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Bill Bryson talks fees, litter & literature

The Locker Room All new sports supplement launches

Our impartial party guide helps you decide

Five years as Chancellor

PALATINATE Palatinate, Elections

The official student newspaper of Durham Students’ Union since 1948

Palatinate, Profile

Tuesday 16th March 2010 | Edition 717 | palatinate.org.uk NATASHA CORAL

Future of Riverside Café in doubt

Shakespeare First Folio theft

Local eccentric and Pot Noodle lover Raymond Scott makes his first court appearance on charges of Folio theft Page 4

City’s cultual commiserations

Durham is out of the running for City of Culture 2013, but organisers put on a brave face and promise a year to remember nonetheless Page 5

Durham in disrepair

£93 million needed to fix the 10% of student accommodation now “inoperable or at serious risk of failure or breakdown” Page 6

51.6% say ‘No’ to NUS

DSU disaffiliates, ‘Yes’ campaigners quick to question democratic legitimacy Vincent McAviney

A motion to disaffiliate the DSU from the NUS was passed by a narrow 3.1% margin last week. In the second referendum to be held on this subject in as many terms, students voted 1,295 to 1,217 against the motion ‘Should DSU be affiliated to the National Union of Students?’ A petition calling for the referendum was signed by over 1, 000 students following the NUS’s mishandling of the cancelled Union Society multiculturalism debate with two BNP politicians last month. However, shortly after going to press on our last edition, the DSU issued a statement postponing the referendum “to gather more information and take further guidance on the matter”. After checking the DSU’s Governing Documents officers decided the referendum was legal and could go ahead.

The ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ movements had been actively campaigning around the University for the past week. NUS officials from around the country led by the organisation’s Vice-President of Union Development Richard Budden were spotted handing out leaflets bearing the slogan “You have to be in it to change it” and speaking to students about the benefits of affiliation. Upon the announcement of the result in Kingsgate Bar last Friday evening Mr Budden reflected, “It’s obviously disappointing any time you lose members, particularly with the close margin of this vote and when you consider that in November when the question was first put to students more of them voted and over 80% said yes”. Budden continued, “I’ve already made the Democracy Committee aware of Standing Order 3.2 which states about preference and looking at what takes greater precedent. I was publicly very unhappy first of all at

staging two referendums in a year on the same issue. You do have a situation where if someone’s unhappy with a result once, they can continue all year until they get the result they want, I do think that’s the case in this referendum”. “I wouldn’t be surprised ...if there was another referendum either by the end of this year or the start of next when people really realise the impact [of disaffiliating]. I completely understand people wanting to give us a bloody nose over the BNP multicultural situation. However, I think the vote to disaffiliate has far wider ramifications than just one policy issue and I am concerned about what happens to DSU moving forward without having national support,” speculated Budden. Jamie Scott, administrator of the Facebook group which enthusiastically backed Continued on page 3

indigo

‘The Emerald Edition’ celebrates all things green - the environment and St Patrick’s day! JONATHAN ALLEN

Continued on page 3

The DSU Sabbatical elections see the highest turnout since 2003, but are not without controversial campaign tactics Page 3

Daniel Johnson

The future of the Riverside Café in the DSU’s Dunelm House has been brought into doubt this week, as the Trustee Board decided it is no longer financially viable for the DSU to carrying on running the café beyond this term. YUM, the University’s catering provider, will step in to keep it open, but beyond the short term the future of the café is unclear. Paul Taylor, Deputy Head of University and Colleges Catering, confirmed that YUM will “be able to do something in the short term” to keep food provision in the DSU, subsequent to a meeting with DSU President Natalie Crisp last week. Yet, Paul Taylor told Palatinate that plans beyond next term will be “subject to a business proposal” and remain in their infancy. No major plans for the future have been made, yet the DSU President expects “a proposal” for the shorter term by Monday. The DSU is expected to make a loss of £18, 000 this year and it is because of this that the decision to stop running the café was taken. Natalie Crisp stated that “Riverside Café currently operates at a significant loss, which we cannot continue to subsidise”. As a consequence of being underused, underequipped and lacking investment, the cafe makes a crippling loss of £700 a week. By axing the café, the DSU expects to save £36, 400 annually, dramatically improving the DSU’s financial position. However, concerns were raised by students regarding the quality of service YUM currently provides with the meal ticket system, amid fears that this substandard provision would be replicated in the café. In a DSU open forum on Wed3rd March where the future of the Riverside Café was discussed, students branded the price of YUM food as “ridiculous”, arguing that it fails to represent value for money for students. This negativity towards YUM amongst students means that the takeover of the café is likely to be unpopular. An alternative suggestion put forward at the forum was the possibility of licensing the space out to a company outside of the University like Starbucks.

Newsbox Election results are in


Tuesday 16th March 2010 PALATINATE

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Editorial Favourites, letters, corrections and editorial

PALATINATE Editors in Chief - Vincent McAviney & Liza Miller - editor@palatinate.org.uk

Days get longer, student temperaments get shorter A little over a year ago I wrote a news features article on the 2008 sabbatical elections and a referendum held on the issues of Gaza, decrying the levels of student apathy in Durham. A year on and things have changed considerably. The NUS, aside from bringing us all lovely discounts in shops, has continuously campaigned to improve student life since its creation 88 years ago. This organisation played a crucial role in student-related issues such as the introduction of the student grant system, the provision of cheque guarantee cards and free banking for students, and in the last few months they have scored considerable victories on student housing legislation offering greater protection for deposits and faster repayments. We have now joined the ranks of Imperial, Southampton, Sunderland and St Andrews Universities in disaffiliating from this organisation at a time when students need to stand as united as possible.

Undoubtedly with 50% of school leavers now heading into higher education the system could no longer be funded by the state alone. In order to have world-class universities like the one we are lucky enough to attend, diversification of income is necessary - but footing the bill with students should not be the primary means of doing this. The NUS has been vociferous in its campaign to block the lifting of the cap on tuition fees, something our own chancellor is lobbying for. The NUS, oft criticised for infighting and inefficiency, has come a long way in putting its house in order. Under President Wes Streeting it has become an effective campaigning organisation with its current ‘Vote For Students’ campaign sending politicians into a spin. The more voices behind a cause, the more likely it is that the chorus will succeed; perhaps now is not the best time to disaffiliate. In a little over seven weeks our country will have a new government. Whilst the predictive electoral maths is more scatter-

gram than trending an outright winner, the fact remains that all three main parties are still reluctant to reveal their hand when it comes to future HE financing. So-called ‘grey vote’ issues like crime and pensions are dominating the pre-election headlines because the parties know that proportionally those over 65 are twice as likely to go out and vote than those between 18-25. If we want our issues to be taken seriously in the future then in 2010 we have to turn out the vote. With social networking and new media we should be a generation the parties are desperate to woo and appease. With the highest turnout in seven years in our sabbatical elections and another referendum this term, Durham Students are feeling more politically active. We can only hope that young people across the country are feeling the same on May 6th so that the incoming government, whoever they may be, know that young people can no longer be ignored. - VM

owe a debt of thanks, and also other people who you might not think of. Freshers will not appreciate the great work this year’s DSU sabbatical officers have done, but they have been better than others in my time here. Whilst past sabbs attempted to censor articles that reflected poorly on them, this team actively supported our editorial independence. The good people of DSU have also been helpful, particularly the girls on reception, the porters, fabulous Joe Elliott and his better half, Sarah, and Aspasia, our beautiful marketing manager, who does great work attempting to find enough advertising to keep us in the black. The job of Palatinate editor is widely seen as the most time-consuming position you can hold whilst still studying for a degree at Durham. In a fit of insanity, I attempted to simultaneously perform two other senior roles within my college. Whilst I just about pulled it off, I only did so because of the

I write to you regarding the issue of the underhand election tactics employed by the Liberal Democrats in Durham. Aside from the fact that they align themselves with the Tories here and Labour elsewhere rather than trying to stand on the basis of their own policies, they also send out fairly manipulative campaign materials. I had been considering voting for Carol Woods at the next election but not now on the basis of the two fake newspapers I have

received from her that I find extremely dishonest. Whilst I am aware that using the format of a newspaper or magazine could be useful, the Lib Dems should make sure it is clearly marked that it comes from them. I can only presume that Miss Woods thinks that constituents are stupid enough to not realise. My next assumption, based on there being two similar papers in quick succession, is that the Lib Dems hope people will glance at it and then throw it away as they tend to

Palatinate News pages 3-5 News Features pages 6-7 Elections pages 8- 9 Short Story Competition page 11 Careers page 12 Profile page 13 Comment pages 14-17 Sport pages 19-20

indigo Features page 3-4 Travel page 5 Food page 6 Fashion pages 7-9 Film and TV page 10 Visual Arts page 11 Stage pages 12-13 Music page 14 Games & Photography page 16

fabulous support I received from friends and colleagues. I’d personally like to thank all those from Trevs DUCK and Hex who helped to pick up my slack, and apologise to my housemates for the phantom who seemingly occupied the attic room for the past term, only present during the hours of 12am and 9am. However inevitably, the people to whom we owe the greatest debt of thanks are those who comprise our editorial board, who suffer long hours in a broom cupboard to produce what is genuinely one of the best student newpapers in the country. They come up with interesting articles, lay up their pages and graciously accept the suggestions that Vinny and I give them. All the while, they balance their Palatinate positions with a demanding degree and a semblance of a social life. To everyone I’ve mentioned: thank you, and good night. - LM

Favourites Comment Palatinate, page 15

Election day, home or away?

Our writers debate which constituency is best Features indigo, page 3

Letter to the Editors Dear Palatinate,

15.03.2010 No. 717 Contents

Books page 15

Farewell from one editor, maybe two This is an awkward farewell piece to write, because the future of this editorial dream team is somewhat up in the air. Whilst I (Liza) am definitely penning the final words I will contribute to my beloved newspaper – in an effort to placate my parents and dissertation supervisor, I thought I’d dedicate my final term to academics – my co-editor Vinny is in the running to carry on editing Palatinate next term. The fact that constitutionally our editors are appointed for one term at a time only means that the publication is constantly moving forward and being challenged. Sometimes this leads to jarring and toofrequent overhauls as each editor strives to make their mark, but by and large it means that innovation is never far away. Palatinate is a huge operation, and the people listed on the right are by no means the sum total of the team. There are countless writers and photographers to whom we

To have your say on anything featured visit palatinate.org.uk

with free newspapers. They then hope that constituents will take away something positive about Carol from the first one and that this will be reinforced by the second one which they assume is different. I think that this is particularly manipulative as the Lib Dems put themselves forward as the party that respects the electorate and does not engage in sleaze. Many thanks,

Mike Turner

The worst date ever?

The gloves come off in part two of our series Film and TV indigo, page 10

The end of the Tennant-cy

Palatinate needs you! We’re looking for new editors, photographers and writers so why not get involved?And don’t forget to follow our tweets this Easter. DEPUTY SPORT EDITOR Like what you see in our new ‘Locker Room’ pullout? Why not get involved with Palatinate and join our rapidly expanding Sports section. We are looking for two new dedicated team players to join Raj’s squad. For an application please e-mail sport@palatinate.org.uk.

QUEEN’S CAMPUS EDITOR With the two colleges in Stockton often forgotten about, Palatinate is very keen to increase this vibrant community’s profile and disprove some of the myths! If you are a student of John Snow or Stephenson College why not email editor@palatinate. org.uk for an application form.

EASTER ELECTION COVERAGE Be sure to log onto the Palatinate website during the Easter holidays to find out all of the latest Durham news. We will be launching our election coverage blog, bringing you all the information you need to make an informed choice in 2010.

The TARDIS returns to BBC1 with a new Doctor

Palatinate is published by Durham Students’ Union on a fortnightly basis during term and is editorially independent. All contributors and editors are full-time students at Durham. Send letters to: Editor, Palatinate, Durham Students’ Union, Dunelm House, New Elvet, Durham, DH1 3AN. Alternatively, send an e-mail to editor@palatinate.org.uk

Editorial Board

Deputy Editor Matthew Richardson deputy.editor@palatinate.org.uk News Editor Jodie Smith news@palatinate.org.uk News Features Editor George Stafford news.features@palatinate.org.uk Deputy News Editors Alex Dibble Richard Lowe-Lauri Lucinda Rouse deputy.news@palatinate.org.uk Queen’s Campus News Editor VACANT queens@palatinate.org.uk Elections Editor Jack Battersby elections@palatinate.org.uk Careers Editor Izzy Barker careers@palatinate.org.uk Profile Editor Anna Brook profile@palatinate.org.uk Comment Editors Thom Addinall-Biddulph Alexandra Bottomer comment@palatinate.org.uk Sport Editor Rajvir Rai sport@palatinate.org.uk Deputy Sport Editors Delaney Chambers Ellie Middleton-Ross deputy.sport@palatinate.org.uk Indigo Editors Ally Bacon Rosanna Boscawen indigo@palatinate.org.uk Features Editor Alex Mansell features@palatinate.org.uk Food and Drink Editor Lydia Ashby food@palatinate.org.uk Travel Editor Katy Balls travel@palatinate.org.uk Fashion Editor Antonia Thier fashion@palatinate.org.uk Deputy Fashion Editor Emma Spedding deputy.fashion@palatinate.org.uk Visual Arts Editor Tamara Gates visual.arts@palatinate.org.uk Film and Television Editor Alison Moulds film@palatinate.org.uk Stage Editors Daniel Dyson Sophie Zeldin-O’Neill stage@palatinate.org.uk Music Editors Olivia Swash music@palatinate.org.uk Books Editor Alice Graves books@palatinate.org.uk Deputy Books Editor James Leadill deputy.books@palatinate.org.uk Games Editor Jon Zhu games@palatinate.org.uk Chief Sub-Editor Louise Quarmby sub-editing@palatinate.org.uk Section Sub-Editors Katie Ashcroft, Lisa Paul, Joe Salmon, Mei Leng Yew Website Editor Chris Wastell web.editor@palatinate.org.uk Illustrations Editor Anthonie Chiu-Smit illustration@palatinate.org.uk Photography Editors Jonathan Allen photography@palatinate.org.uk Multimedia Editors Ali Barber Ben Swales multimedia@palatinate.org.uk


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PALATINATE Tuesday 16th March 2010

For even more news visit palatinate.org.uk

Durham News

Kit Kats, law spats and best turnout in seven years

News in brief Van Mildert JCR considers buying fire engine

This year’s hotly-contested DSU Sabbatical elections saw the highest turnout of voters since 2003. But with disqualification and docking, the race wasn’t without controversy

One PR-savvy candidate tried to win support by giving out chocolatey treats to voters

Jack Battersby

After three weeks of campaigning, the results of the DSU’s 2010/11 sabbatical and trustee elections have been announced. Nearly a quarter of all students voted, amounting to the highest turnout since online polling was introduced in 2003. The current DSU Societies and Student Development Officer Ben Robertson expressed his delight at the level of activism shown by candidates and voters. “Lots of preparation went into election week, and we worked hard to ensure every student knew they had the chance to make a difference. The DSU is clearly more relevant to students than ever before”. Publicity across the University’s libraries, academic departments and lecture halls produced one of the most high-profile contests in recent years. In colleges across

both campuses, Senior DSU Representatives worked hard to ensure students voted. Turnout in Trevelyan and Ustinov colleges was four and five times that of last year while Queen’s campus saw a doubling of votes.

“DSU is clearly more relevant to students than ever before” Next year’s Education and Welfare Officer (EWO) Jake Wanstall highlighted the level of enthusiasm shown by those involved. “It was great to meet so many different students across the colleges. Everybody was really friendly, which made the whole

experience a lot of fun”. Reflecting on the demands of campaigning, incoming Societies and Student Development Officer Kristina Hagen said “I don’t think that I’ve ever had a more hectic two weeks in my four years at Durham. This high level of interaction between officers and students is something I’d like to carry on over the next year”. Despite each candidate receiving comprehensive training, a number of election regulations were broken over the course of the week. Following a complaint, Mr Wanstall was ordered to cease the distribution of confectionary alongside campaign material, and was docked votes. However, the most serious offence was that committed by EWO candidate Jemma Cooper from Grey College, who was disqualified for the misuse of mailing lists. In contravention of DSU guidelines, a campaign email was sent out to members of Durham Law Society, urging them to vote for a “fellow law student”. Subsequently, a number of members entered into a heated public dispute over the message, with one individual told to “pipe down” after expressing concerns over Ms Cooper’s methods. After being made aware of the email, the DSU’s Senior Returning Officer was faced with no choice but to expel the candidate over the incident. Mr Robertson maintained that the disqualification took place in unfortunate circumstances, “I know that Jemma did not intend to break regulations and she campaigned with a fair spirit. Making the phone

call to her over the issue was a horrible thing to have to do”. Ms Cooper has since written a statement attacking the “appalling appeals procedure and the striking inconsistency with which the Senior Returning Officer exercises her discretionary powers”.

“Making the phone call to her was a horrible thing to have to do” Voters also elected four new students to the Trustee Board, the body with legal and financial responsibility for governing the DSU. Comprising the four sabbatical officers, four student trustees and four nonstudents appointed for their expertise, the board meets several times per academic year. Continued tensions between the University and the DSU mean that the 2010/11 academic year will be extremely challenging for the incoming officers. When they take up their positions on 1st August, they do so with a strong mandate to provide effective and transparent representation for students across the University as well as the responsibility of tackling the DSU’s ongoing financial issues. To see some of the material in contention regarding the disqualification of Jemma Cooper, visit www.palatinate.org.uk

The Results

DSU President: Sam Roseveare Socs & Student Development Officer: Kristina Hagen Education and Welfare Officer: Jake Wanstall DUCK Officer: Martin Dorset-Purkis JONATHAN ALLEN

NUS vote

Continued from front page

the referendum, quickly messaged the group’s followers to inform them of the “stunning upset” and to thank them for their campaigning. DSU President Natalie Crisp seemed geuniely shocked by the result, “Evidently there is a large amount of ill feeling towards NUS in light of the email sent by the Black Students Officer and the LGBT Officer to DSU with regards to the DUS multiculturalism debate. “I hope that when students voted to disaffiliate it wasn’t a knee jerk reaction, and that they considered all of the positive things which NUS give the union. We will now have to ensure that next years sabbatical officers have support and training in place to ensure that they are able to do their jobs adequately.” Durham’s referendum comes after a speight of other universities have gone to the poll over NUS affiliation. Last month an unprecedented 3,500 students at the University of Cambridge voted, with 65% support for staying affiliated. Those who campaigned to stay affiliated argued that a continued association would provide Durham students with a powerful national voice to pursue a number of objectives, primarily the increase in top-up fees being lobbied for by our own Vice-Chancellor Chris Higgins. The result also leaves the future autonomy of JCRs in doubt as they will no longer have NUS guidance on registering with the Charity Commission.

Jess Brown

Van Mildert’s JCR meeting on 21st February featured a proposal to buy a fire engine. The motion, initially suggested by undergraduate Matt Dyson, was described by JCR President Sam Roseveare as “ridiculous” albeit “vaguely amusing”. Dyson argues the vehicle would offer the much-needed space for the storage of valuable technical equipment, including expensive lighting. In response to the rule that motions must benefit the whole JCR, Dyson pointed out that the fire engine could double up as a minibus for the college. College Treasurer Simon Goatcher highlighted the fact that since the vehicle is an HGV, the prospective driver would need to be over the age of 21. He also noted the necessity for training, which would incur further expenditure on top of MOT and insurance. Also proposed to the JCR were plans to buy a new boat for the college boat club, which were approved. The proposal will be addressed by the college’s Finance Committee in the near future.

Extended licensing hours proposed by Jimmy Allen’s Mei Leng Yew

Jimmy Allen’s has been criticised by the University, community groups and local residents after making a bid to extend its drinking hours to 4am. Following discussions with the police, the bid was reduced to 2am. The University has stated that it “is opposed to any extension of late-night drinking, which we feel carries an unacceptable risk of increased anti-social behaviour”. The University’s City Liaison Officer Prof Chris Hutchinson also expressed “concerns about the impact of excessive drinking on the health of young people” and condemned the licence application for “fail[ing] to address issues about public safety and prevention of public nuisance”. Stuart Bowes, Operations Director of the firm running Jimmy Allen’s stated that the company’s primary interest was “to strike a balance between the welfare of residents and sustaining the late-night economy”. He claimed sound pollution was at an all-time low and pointed out that the firm is at the forefront of a new police initiative introducing a minimum alcohol pricing policy to Durham City. The application is currently being considered by Durham County Council.

University to contact students via SMS Alex Dibble

What is the fate of Riverside Cafe? Will it just be another large, empty, difficult-to-book room? Or can YUM finally make it turn a profit?

Continued from front page

However, it is unlikely the University will be fond of this idea as it will prevent societies from using the space after-hours. The is also the question of whether a company would even be interested in taking over the space considering the low footfall occurring through the Union on a daily basis. The University can no longer bail out the DSU as it did last year, when the DSU made a £130,000 loss. Natalie Crisp boasted that

the current financial situation is “a massive improvement on last year” but expressed the need for the DSU to be financially independent. Explaining the closure of the Riverside Café, she added that “the University will not fund another deficit and as such the Trustee Board has got to make some tough decisions in order to prevent DSU from becoming insolvent”. Subsequent to any proposals that DSU receives from YUM, Natalie Crisp con-

firmed that in pursuit of transparency, there will be a second consultation followed by an online poll in order to guide any future decisions made regarding the café. Aware of concerns regarding YUM’s meal ticket system, Paul Taylor could not elucidate the future of the provision, simply stating that it needs to “provide more flexibility”. Send us a tweet - is the DSU now without purpose, or does it still play a valuable role in the life of Durham students?

The University has set up a new SMS service enabling colleges to contact students on their mobile phones in certain scenarios. Texts will be sent in situations when there is an urgent need for the student to come into College or to communicate a last-minute venue change. The service has been established on an opt-out basis. All members of the University are therefore automatically registered if they have provided their mobile phone numbers to Student Planning and Assessment or through the Student Enrolment section on DUO.


Tuesday 16th March 2010 PALATINATE

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Durham News

News Durham

Mel Punton

A 53 year-old man from County Durham appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on Friday 26th February charged with stealing a £1.5m Shakespeare First Folio from Palace Green Library in 1998. Raymond Scott, who describes himself as an ‘amateur bibliophile’, denies all six charges including theft of the folio, handling stolen goods and removing criminal property. In June 2008 Mr Raymond walked into Folger Shakespeare Library on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C and presented the priceless First Folio for valuation. Scott claimed to have found the folio in Cuba, where he had been visiting his fiancée Heidi Rios, a 21-year-old dancer at Havana’s Tropicana club. Experts at the library examined the folio, which has been described as one of the most important works in the English language, and became suspicious that it was the very same folio that had been stolen from Durham University. Upon returning to the home he shares with his mother in Washington, Tyne and Wear, Mr Scott was arrested by County Durham Police and charged with the six offences. The case has been adjourned until 24th May, when the next hearing will take

place at Newcastle Crown Court. The First Folio, dating from 1623, formed part of a library established in 1669 by John Cosin, former Bishop of Durham. It was one of seven books stolen from Palace Green Library in what is said to have been a highly professional theft. The remaining six books, including a fifteenth-century manuscript featuring a fragment of a poem by Chaucer have yet to be recovered.

“He is renowned for his taste for Cuban cigars and Pot Noodles” Speaking in 2008 following the recovery of the stolen book, Vice-Chancellor Chris Higgins was keen to stress that security at Palace Green had reached “the highest standards since the theft ten years ago and we are confident the First Folio will be safe when it arrives back in Durham.” At a previous hearing for the same case in August 2009, Mr Scott arrived at Durham Crown Court in a horse-drawn carriage, accompanied by a bagpiper and a Frank Sinatra tribute act performing ‘My

“I had thought about Julius Caesar, but I don’t look nice in a toga and it’s a bugger trying to find a chariot” said Mr Scott before one of his court appearances

Way’. He was wearing a kilt and drinking a bottle of Drambuie. Scott also recited a lengthy extract from Macbeth off by heart. Speaking from the carriage he said, “It’s a rather dull, grey world, all in all, and I like to add a little colour”. Mr Scott made another court appear-

ance in April 2009 brandishing two guns whilst dressed as revolutionary Che Guevara, presumably because of the location of his ‘find’. He is renowned for his taste for Cuban cigars and Pot Noodles. The provisional date set for his trial is 14th June.

Students bare all to stop sweatshops Savings card CHRIS WILLETTS

Welcome to the end of another endlessly charity-packed term. It all began with a record-breaking series of rag raids raising almost £6,000 for the Haiti Earthquake appeal. Epiphany hurtled on through innovative new events from LOST to tea-dances, through a chaotic and enormously profitable DUCK week, to the recruitment of over 500 students to climb mountains, run marathons, jump out of planes and visit 5 continents this summer with DUCK. All of this translates into serious amounts of money for a huge range of worthwhile causes around the area and around the world. It’s all made possible through the incredibly hard work of the 10-strong Central Exec, who organise everything from bungee jumps to the Berlin Marathon. It’s almost time to recruit next year’s DUCK Exec, and if you’re interested in charity, enthusiastic, have shedloads of initiative and the guts to take on enormous projects and run with them, then we’re looking for you. Elections are early next term, so check out the details on duck.dsu.org.uk. Pre-Easter DUCKing is not yet over – come along to Durham’s Got Talent this Wednesday at 8pm in the DSU to witness acts – from breathtakingly talented to downright bizarre - from colleges near you, or laugh for charity in St Johns at 7.30. And finally, thank you for your generosity, for giving your time, and for helping make DUCK’s events, from ragraids to charity strips, so successful this term.

Lucinda Rouse

RAYMOND SCOTT

DUCK Officer’s Column

Eccentric local in court over First Folio theft

Sophia James

A new initiative has been launched by Durham Markets Company to raise the profile of local traders, with Durham students being offered a range of discounts and offers across a number of participating stalls in the Indoor Market. A prototype student card is currently being trialled at self-catering Josephine Butler College, a move that has proved successful. Traders have reported seeing more students visiting the Indoor Market since the introduction of the cards. Whilst an integral part of life in Durham, with some stalls having been trading for 60 years, it is surprising that such a scheme has only just come into existence, as Durham students constitute a lucrative, but previously untapped market.

SCA Column Jamie Hubbard

This is one of the biggest weeks of the year for Student Community Action. Durham Volunteering doesn’t come much glitsier than the oSCArs, held last Tuesday. This year the event was at Josephine Butler. Around 100 volunteers from across the University attended the evening, at which the coveted Volunteering Palatinates and Community Action’s STAR Volunteer prizes were awarded. Congratulations to the winners, who were presented their awards by the biggest and best in Durham: Chancellor Bill Bryson, Vice-Chancellor Chris Higgins and Mayors Dennis Southwell and Paul Kirton of Durham and Stockton. On Wednesday, Student Community Action volunteers met for the annual AGM, at which the achievements of the last year were discussed and the new exec were elected. This year the organisation has run more than 50 projects and placed more than 350 volunteers. I’d like to say good luck to next year’s exec. SCA is calling YOU to get involved in volunteering! Now is a great time to apply for projects: send off for a CRB check now and be volunteering by next term. Email community.action@dur. ac.uk to learn more or pop into the office on Level A, DSU. Come and see what volunteering can do for you.

for market

ER140 was one of a number of settings chosen to raise awareness for the fair trade campaign

Lyndsey Fineran

Nudity was the theme as the “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Sweatshop Clothes” campaign group brought their project to the streets of Durham. As part of their campaign for ethical University clothing, the group encouraged Durham students to bare all in order to uncover the inhumane source of much of our beloved daily-worn stash. Shots were taken of students walking across Kingsgate Bridge, playing a game of pool, and taking in a lecture. A fake formal was also staged in St Chad’s college library. The publicity project was part of the larger environmental body, ‘People and Planet’, a national student campaigning organisation. Over recent weeks group representatives of the campaign have been collecting signatures for the petition, which will soon be presented to the university procurement department - the body that monitors the source of university purchases.

The basic aim of the campaign is to get Durham University to affiliate with the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), a labour rights monitoring body set up to focus particularly on manufacturers of University and campus clothing.

“Sadly, the people working for our suppliers are often working under slave labour conditions” A spokesperson for the group said: “We believe that this university should necessitate all companies that supply garments bought and sold on campus to respect human rights. “Durham University spends tens of millions on clothing for their staff uniforms, sports teams and branded hoodies. Sadly,

the people working for our suppliers are often working under slave labour conditions, with no union, no healthcare, 80hour working weeks and 5p an hour wages. That’s why we are calling for Durham to bare all and uncover the factories that their suppliers use to the Worker Rights Consortium.” Signing up to the WRC will affect all garments that are bought in the university from stash to staff uniforms and will put pressure on companies that are not certified Fair Trade to improve their standards and maintain basic human rights. Hayley Spann, the regional representative for ‘People and Planet’ in the North East and campaign director spoke to Palatinate about the aims of the events. “The main drive of the campaign is to help people realise, and more importantly put to use, the power they hold as a consumer. ‘I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Sweatshop Clothes’ is a way of taking this power back and putting it to an invaluable and possibly even world-changing use.”

“Students constitute a lucrative but previously untapped market” Durham Market manager, Colin Wilkes, has suggested that students are ‘frightened’ of a less familiar system, preferring to frequent chain supermarkets that provide a quick, convenient, but impersonal, service. Local traders, however are reportedly eager to ‘build a relationship’ with the student population of Durham City. According to Wilkes, this is part of a part of a larger plan to encourage the younger generation of Durham to take advantage of all that local businesses have to offer. If the initiative continues to be successful, then it is thought that it will be extended to incorporate the rest of Durham University’s student body. Colin has said that he is keen to hear from Durham students. He can be contacted at colin@durhammarkets.co.uk.


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PALATINATE Tuesday 16th March 2010

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Durham, national and columns News

City disappointed after losing capital of culture bid Durham has failed in its bid to be crowned the first UK City of Culture. An independent judging panel has excluded the city from its shortlist in favour of Sheffield, Norwich, Derry and Birmingham, which will go on to compete for the 2013 title. Culture Minister Margaret Hodge said she was very impressed with all fourteen bids, and told those not selected to “take heart from what you’ve achieved and continue to work on creating a cultural offer which can be enjoyed by all”. Durham was praised for a well-presented proposal with “elements of national and international excellence”, but judges were worried by the number and size of venues and lack of infrastructure. “Compared to the strongest bids, there is a concern that weaknesses or gaps in Durham’s cultural and visitor infrastructure might constrain its ability to sustain a high-quality cultural programme over 12 months and to generate the economic impacts sought for 2013,” they said. Naturally, many are disappointed with the decision. Durham University Chancellor Bill Bryson regretted that, “there is an energy in Durham and the UK City of Culture title would have been a wonderful chance both to promote that and also improve what goes on in the city”. Yet Durham still promises an “amazing year” in 2013. Paul Gudgin, the bid’s creative director, said, “We already have some outstanding, nationally and international important events lined up.

Despite not being included in the shortlist for City of Culture, Durham plans on making 2013 a year to remember with events and projects

“We have the energy, we have the talent. Our show will go on”. Highlights include the return of the Lumière festival of light, the first Ashes Test match ever held in the North East and a three-month visit of the Lindisfarne Gospels. “These and other major events will attract thousands of people to our region in 2013 and help Durham to become a high performing, culturally rich, inspiring place at the top of the economic league table”, added Gudgin. Several major spending projects are also planned, including a new visitor centre for the Castle and Cathedral, a £5.5 million

transformation of the city Market Place and a host of smaller developments.

“We have the energy, we have the talent. Our show will go on” “Whilst it would have been nice to have the recognition, the fact that we’ve lost the bid doesn’t make Durham any less of a nice place to live”, said Nick Varley, Conservative Party candidate for Durham City. “We

already know we’ve got a strong history and cultural heritage”. Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, added, “Of course we’re disappointed not to make the shortlist because it was a first class bid supported by the whole region, but we’re not downhearted. “This is just a part of a very long journey we have to make to achieve our vision of raising Durham’s profile on the national and international stage and developing our economy and personal aspirations through culture-led regeneration”. Durham is expected to bid again to become UK City of Culture 2017.

Alex Dibble

A recent spate of shop sign thefts has defaced Durham’s town centre. Bypassing the shops’ products, criminals instead targeted their signs, leaving several high street stores, including Topshop, bereft of their distinctive markings. Vandals removed the ‘T’ and ‘P’ from above the entrance to Topshop in Silver Street, in a series of visits to the store under the cover of darkness. Dorothy Perkins and H Samuel were amongst other properties targeted in Silver Street by the crooks. The damage was carried out during three consecutive nightly visits in which a different part of the sign was removed each time. Chief Inspector Paul Anderson of Durham Constabulary said, “Whether this is youngsters playing a prank or something else we are not too sure. We are following a number of lines of inquiry as well as CCTV footage”. The police are also considering the possibility that the thefts are a student prank since specific letters have been taken. An-

derson said: “We will be liaising with the universities once we have identified who is responsible” and “taking appropriate action against them”. “If anyone has any information please let us know before we start knocking on people’s doors”.

“This is a criminal act that has cost time, money and inconvenience for the shops affected” The serious nature of the incident was emphasized by Anderson who stressed, “It is a criminal act” that has cost “time and money” for the shops affected as well as causing serious inconvenience. Anyone with any information should contact the Durham Constabulary on 0345 606 0365. NATASHA CORAL

Shops around Durham City Centre have been targeted by the surreptitious thieves

Universities have been urged to explore ways of combating the use of ‘smart drugs’. Students have turned to drugs that improve cognitive performance in increasing numbers, especially during exams. Barbara Sahakian, professor of clinical neuropsychology at Cambridge, said that Universities “should have some strategy or active policy” to address the substances, which are bought mainly over the internet. They are usually prescribed for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Discussions surrounding the drugs, such as ritalin and modafinil, have focussed on the ethical and practical dilemmas they pose. “Some students feel it is cheating,” said Sahakian. “It puts pressure on them to feel they have to use these drugs when they don’t really want to”. However, Vince Cakic, University of Sydney psychologist, said last year that banning the drugs to maintain a level playing field would be comparable to declaring private tuition illegal as well. “Smart drugs would be nearly impossible to ban,” he warned, adding that “the pressure to succeed is very real” when future career opportunities are at stake. The issues arising as a result of the use of ‘smart drugs’ have been likened to those created by performance-enhancing drugs in sport. “If the current situation in competitive sport is anything to go by”, said Cakic, “any attempt to prohibit the use of nootropics will probably be difficult or inordinately expensive to police effectively”. Surveys in the United States indicate that 16% of students at university are using ‘smart drugs’. Online chatrooms are now devoted to how to best use drugs for academic benefit. The fact that the majority of students purchase the drugs over the internet “is a real concern”, said Prof. Sahakian. “They are not aware of what they are getting, or how it could affect them”.

A spokeswoman for Universities UK insisted that “universities take the issue of drug abuse very seriously, and would have grave concerns about students taking drugs not proscribed to them. “Not only is this illegal but is also poses health risks to those students”. Instead, she urged students under pressure to seek ad-

“Surveys indicate 16% of students at university in the United States are using smart drugs” vice from counselling and welfare services offered by the institution, or their GP. The ethical problems remain, however, and “this is something that universities should at least discuss”, said Prof. Sahakian. “Should there be urine testing? These questions have to be looked at”.

SOPHIA JAMES

Sign-stealing pranksters target Brain-boosting drugs on rise Topshop and Dorothy Perkins Sarah Ingrams

Natalie Crisp PAUL SCHARFE

Richard Lowe-Lauri

DSU President’s Column

I’m going to use this column as an opportunity to outline exactly what is happening with regards to Riverside Café. I think that it is really important to keep all of you informed about what is going on and why certain decisions have had to be made. When my predecessors made the difficult decision to close the DSU shop, the one criticism which came up time and time again at the start of my term in office, was the lack of consultation with students. This is something I am exceedingly keen to avoid. In essence Riverside Café is not currently profitable. DSU is projected to have at the end of the year an £18,000 deficit, and as such cannot subsidise a failing commercial venture. The trustee board took the difficult decision to close Riverside at the end of term. Whatever happens, the union cannot continue to run the café and as such I am now carrying out a consultation with students to discover what they would want from the space. University catering, in the form of YUM have offered to take over the café, however I want to make sure that this is what students want. As such in order to discuss this issue and answer any questions which anyone may have had I held a consultation event which was open to all students and publicised in my university-wide email. The overall consensus from those who attended the event was that this would be a preferable course of action if YUM was able to provide some kind of hot food provision in the café, alongside the usual sandwiches and salads which are provided on the science site. The possibility of getting another external company to take over the space was discussed, however due to likely restrictions on the use of the space it was decided that this was not an acceptable course of action. Following this consultation event I met with the head of University Catering and discussed the situation. Should students ultimately decide that they want YUM to take over the café it was confirmed that in the short term sandwiches and coffee could be available from Riverside next term. A redevelopment of the space over the summer would then ensure some hot food would be available from the start of next year. Societies would still be able to use the space, and it could still be used on a Friday and Saturday night for Planet of Sound and Revolver. Ultimately though, I still need feedback from all of you. I will be holding another consultation event on Wednesday 17th at 3pm, in DSU to discuss all of this with students. There will then be an online poll on the DSU website, giving students the opportunity to decide if they would like YUM to take over Riverside. I hope this makes the situation as clear as possible, and as ever if anyone has any questions, comments or queries they are more than welcome to get in touch by emailing me at dsu.president@ durham.ac.uk.

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Tuesday 16th March 2010 PALATINATE

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News In Focus

Want to get involved with the newspaper or website? E-mail editor@palatinate.org.uk

Report reveals Durham buildings in state of disrepair

10% of student accommodation is now “inoperable or at serious risk of failure or breakdown”, and may cost as much as £93 million to repair. Palatinate investigates whether the university is willing or able to supply the money These are challenging times for British universities. £315 million in Higher Education funding cuts, top up fee increases, too many students, the lack of jobs for graduates. It would seem there’s another problem to add to that list; the very buildings we live and learn in are falling into a state of disrepair. Top institutions around the country were found to be unsuitable for current use, according to findings published in the Guardian. 41% of the lecture theatres and classrooms at the London School of Economics were found to be unsuitable, and at City University, 41% of student accommodation was branded unfit for purpose.

“The university is sixthworst in the UK for the condition of residential buildings” The problem is also felt much closer to home. A database collated by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) reveals that in the academic year 2007/08, 10% of the student accommodation at Durham University was classified by surveyors as condition D, defined as “inoperable or [at] serious risk of failure or breakdown”. This figure puts the University at the position of sixth-worst in the UK for the condition of residential buildings, joint with Aberystwyth University and the Uni-

rently classed as condition D. The annual reports found on the University’s own Estates & Buildings (E&B) website offers conflicting statistics. One claims that in 2006/07, 10% of colleges were condition D while another says 6%. One report says that in 2007/08, the figure was 4% but the latest datasheet from 2008/09 states that the figure has been constant at 10% since 2006 to 2009. The HEFCE datasheet printed by the Guardian reveals that in 2007/08, an estimated £17.7 million was needed to upgrade all the affected areas in the University from condition D to B, when a building is deemed to be “sound, operationally safe and exhibits only minor deterioration”. This sum is significantly less than the figure recommended by chartered surveyors from Drake and Kannemeyer, whom carried out a condition survey for the University in July 2009 and put the maintenance liability at £99.3 million. As part of a ten year action plan, draft budgets put forward by E&B included a recommendation that £1.9 million be spent on refurbishing colleges and £860,000 on improving academic buildings in the year 2008/09. However, the department was only given approval for approximately 20% of the funding they needed to carry out this “high priority work”. Projects at some colleges have already been put on hold due to a lack of sufficient funding for capital spending projects. In a recent email sent to the whole college, Van Mildert President Sam Roseveare informed students: “At the start of the summer, before Easter Term 2009 ended, I walked around Wear [an accommodation

UNIVERSITY MEDIA OFFICE

Mei Leng Yew and Jodie Smith

There are fears that the university’s Gateway Project is taking money away from much-needed repairs to student accommodation.

LORNA UNWIN

However, the upgrade program has not run smoothly. E&B has “identified severe shortfalls in contractor performance and quality of service” with regards to the ‘Legionella and Water Hygiene’ contract. The

“The department was only given approval for approximately 20% of the funding they needed to carry out ‘high priority work’.” DAN JEFFRIES

Aside from discouraging finalists from moving back into college, buildings in disrepair can also lead to safety concerns for the first year students who live in them. In his recent annual report, E&B Director Peter Robinson warned that the delayed refurbishment “potentially leaves the University at risk”. At the current level of funding, it will be 46 years before the University can be declared “safe”. However, Chris Higgins is adamant that “none [of the buildings] are in a dangerous condition or represents a risk to staff or students. We have recently invested £11m in an award-winning block of teaching facilities [and] every year we refurbish student rooms in one of our 16 Colleges”. There is currently an annual program in place to refurbish existing college rooms each summer. In 2008, £2 million was spent on Grey and Aidan’s while plans are currently being made for Castle and Hatfield rooms during summer 2011.

“Vice-Chancellor Higgins said ‘there is little value in comparing our estate with those of wildly different institutions” The castle is in need of constant maintance, but it is not the only building in need of repair.

versity of Northumberland at Newcastle. According to the HEFCE, only 2% of the University’s non-residential buildings, a term which includes lecture halls, laboratories and libraries, were deemed condition D compared to the University of Newcastle’s 10% and Imperial College London’s 12%. Commenting on the results, Vice-Chancellor Prof Chris Higgins said “there is limited value in comparing our estate with those of widely differing institutions [due to] the University’s unique architectural heritage.” He also said “the statistics quoted in the HEFCE report are somewhat out of date.” However, it is difficult to ascertain exactly what proportion of the University is cur-

block] with the College Officers, in order to review the state of repair of the block. As I recognized that this block would experience more problems than other blocks, I decided to live in it, in the hope that I would be approached more often about specific issues there.” He continued: “It is clear that something has to be done in this block, and it was placed at the top of a priority list. A £120k limited scale project had been planned, and work was due to commence in the summer of 2010, ready for the new intake in Michaelmas 2010. On Tuesday I was told that this refurbishment program was not being implemented, because of cut-backs across Colleges division.”

Other completed projects include replacing specific stones in the Castle walls that had eroded to three-quarters of their original size, leaving the main balustrade wall in the Fellows Garden in danger of collapse. Both the lighting and electrical systems were replaced in Hild and Bede College and the Assembly Rooms while four fire detection systems across the University were changed, including one at the DSU. In Hilton Cottage, St. Cuthbert’s Society, all the walls received a full internal re-plastering and at the Al Quasimi building, the entrance area was retiled following concerns over their “dangerous state” when wet. Van Mildert, Trevelyan, St. Mary’s, Collingwood, Hatfield and Ustinov Colleges have also benefitted.

department is also under increased pressure because last year the Chemistry Block, University College, Palace Green library and the Calman Learning Centre were all given a Display Energy Certificate of G, the least efficient rating possible. It is clear that money must be spent in making the University safer as well as more energy efficient. In the midst of recent concerns about Higher Education funding, however, will the University really be able to sustain their building maintenance whilst financing the £60 million ‘Durham Project’? The Gateway plans will see a new library extension, the relocation of the law department and staff offices and a law library, and the Mountjoy building will be extended and have a remodeled approach. Preliminary work on the Durham Project began in Summer 2009. The £1.4 million work included modifications to the interior of the Main Library and the removal of trees from the Science Site. Work on the project could be completed in 2012, and the university says: “the Project is a major catalyst in achieving our strategy to enhance our standing as one of the world’s leading research-led Universities, and will ensure that we continue to attract the best staff and students from around the world to contribute to and diversify the University and the wider community.”

“Will the university really be able to sustain their building maintance whilst financing the £60 million ‘Durham Project’?”

Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Higgins calls the report “out of date”

It is hoped that the project will be able to progress without a detrimental effect on maintenance of the centuries-old buildings and sites that the university also owns. As to whether this is possible, we can only wait and see. However, one thing is certain; it won’t be easy in the most difficult period that UK universities have witnessed for many years.


PALATINATE Tuesday 16th March 2010

7

News In Focus

Read this and other detailed stories online at palatinate.org.uk

DSU: The Deficit Student Union

Looking back on years of crippling financial mismanagement, George Stafford asks whether the Durham Student Union is finally capable of looking after itself

The DSU is projected to make yet another loss, with an anticipated £18,000 deficit at the end of the year. It has now been confirmed not only that the DSU shop will not be returning as ‘Greg’s Luscious Garden’ or any other name, but that Riverside Cafe is also set to shut due to its loss-making operating costs. These closures were meant to help pull the DSU finances out of the red, but the Union is once again facing a black hole in its budget. In reaction to the closures, DSU President Natalie Crisp insisted that the DSU no longer considered commercial activities to be their main point of focus, pointing to a national trend that has seen a number of student unions discontinue unprofitable commercial ventures: “A student union’s legitimacy and worth is proved in the services they provide to the student body, things like welfare. For us that’s the Nightbus, the accommodation office, the representation that we provide, the student development we facilitate through societies and DUCK; those kind of things, instead of using our block grant to prop up failing commercial ventures”. Yet the decision to close the shop and cafe is much more a result of financial necessity than principled re-allocation of resources. Last year’s triple figure deficit and this year’s projected £18,000 shortfall have forced the DSU’s hand in closing the com-

mercial operations, a decision that has been years in the making due to the DSU’s repeated financial mismanagement. The failure of the Union to keep itself in financial health is not a new phenomenon and can be traced back roughly ten years, when it began to experience year on year losses due to increased commercial competition.

regulations. Unsurprisingly by June 2005 the DSU accounts were £305,000 overdrawn. There are two main reasons why such a huge debt was allowed to amount. The first was that sabbatical officers of the DSU are, by their very nature, in office for a very short term. The ability of presidents and treasurers to spend money and not be accountable for the debt just twelve months later was a recipe for overspending disaster. As current President Natalie Crisp notes, “It was very easy for presidents to look at the short term.” The second was the sheer inexperience of the sabbatical officers who were in charge. As Ms Crisp laments, the sabbatical treasurer was “a student who had just graduated, who had no requirement to have even a concept of numbers”. Students who had no experience in finance, who may not have even have taken a relevant degree, were suddenly put in charge of the accounts of an organisation with a turnover of over £1 million.

“Last year’s triple figure deficit and this year’s £18,000 shortfall have forced the DSU’s hand in closing the commercial operations.” The Union’s reaction to this challenge only served to compound the problem. On 23rd June 2003 the DSU Council assented by ‘general aye’ to Treasurer Andy Beales’ plan to take out a staggering £200,000 loan to make improvements to the building to help revive the Union’s commercial operations. This included a new balcony that was declared unfit for use when it was completed, as it failed to comply with health and safety

“In June 2005 the DSU accounts were £305,000 overdrawn.” IAN WILLIAMSON

The solution? The university’s YUM catering empire continues its expansion

To solve this, a new system was put in place in 2005 whereby a Board of Trustees was created to make sure the Union spent money responsibly, and a professional accountant took over the role of the sabbatical treasurer. He was reportedly “horrified” by what he saw on the books. However, the new arrangement did not prove to be effective for long. Last year the DSU had once again accrued a shocking deficit, this time of £137,000. Fortunately, a generous university has always been on hand to help a DSU that tends to get in debt regularly and deeply. The University offered to write off the deficit, on the condition that it would be the very last time it would do so. In order to make sure that it would not need to bail the DSU out again, the University leant heavily on the Union to stop conducting loss-making activities, leading to the closure of the shop at the beginning of this academic year. The

number of societies, not to mention Planet of Sound and Revolver, the building should remain the home of the DSU. As relocation or disaffiliation were dismissed as financial solutions, it seems that cuts will be the way out of the red. Although reluctant to explicitly express the intention, Ms Crisp implied that cutbacks would be DSU’s chosen method to cut the deficit, after ominously hinting, “We are looking closely at the internal structure of the DSU”.

“The sabbatical officers themselves have already tightened their belts, choosing not to attend conferences and training events.”

It should be noted that the sabbatical officers themselves have already tightened their belts, choosing not to attend conferences and training events. Ms Crisp hopes that their department will finish the year £4,000 under budget. Indeed, although their financial management skills should be subject to criticism, it is important to remember that the DSU staff are a committed group whose claims of achievement this year are well supported. We’ve had the biggest ever fresher and

JONATHAN ALLEN

JONATHAN ALLEN

Dunelm House’s brutalist architecture will have to be matched with brutal cutbacks if the DSU wishes to balance its budget this year

Chairman of the Board of the Trustees at the time, Andrew Young, claimed “we had a gun to our heads”. Following the closure, the sabbatical officers and the Board of Trustees thought that shutting down the unprofitable shop would be enough to rebalance the books. One board member, Tim Hardman, even thought that there would be a £10,000 surplus. However, the DSU is once again facing a predicted deficit of £18,000. This does not look too bad in comparison to the shortfalls of previous years, but only because previous black holes have been so very large. President Natalie Crisp discussed possible ways of reducing the debt in an interview with Palatinate. Firstly it was suggested that there was a rather striking correspondence between the projected shortfall and the cost of the DSU’s membership of the National Union of Students: both figures are roughly £18,000. However, Ms Crisp suggested that disaffiliation would probably not help the Union’s finances, as the University would simply provide less money in the first place. Most of the Union’s funding comes from the University, which bases its three year funding agreements with the DSU on what the Union needs money for, and it was implied that if the Union does not need money for affiliation, it would not continue to receive the same amount in order for it to be spent on something else. It was also suggested that, if the DSU intended to focus on services to students such as the accommodation office and night bus rather than commercial ventures such as a

First the shop, now the cafe: the DSU insists that empty rooms like this are being used by students

shop or cafe, the Union could save money by moving to a smaller building. This is the money-saving strategy employed by the Cambridge Union.

“Last year the DSU once again accrued a shocking deficit, this time of £137,000.” The President disagreed with such a suggestion by pointing to the many uses that Dunelm House provides, suggesting that “students make use of the whole building” and that they are “hiring out every single room in the building regularly”. Ms Crisp suggested that, as it was the home to a great

re-fresher fairs, the highest number of society applications, and DUCK is projected to raise more money than ever. The DSU’s lines of representation with the university and the JCR have been enshrined and the highest number of votes in a DSU election has been cast. The Vice-Chancellor has praised the competent running of the DSU in these matters personally. Needless to say, all of the above stands forfeit if the DSU becomes insolvent. However, thanks to the university’s committed support, it is unlikely that this will never happen. Vice-Chancellor Higgins told Palatinate that the DSU “will always continue” because the services it provides are “critical to our University’s distinctive student experience”. It seems the University will always be there to pick up the tab for the DSU’s spending binges.


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Tuesday 16th March 2010 PALATINATE

Read more about the upcoming general election at www.palatinate.org.uk

News and Information Elections

Elections Candidates go head-to-head in the City of Durham

DSU, local and national election news Non-partisan coverage of candidates

Jack Battersby

General elections decide who gets to form the government of the United Kingdom. Anyone over the age of 18 is eligible to vote, providing they are not a foreign national, a sentenced prisoner or a member of the House of Lords. Across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, a vote takes place to decide who gets to take the 646 available seats in the House of Commons. Each seat corresponds to a local area – such as Durham City, Central Ayrshire or Boston & Skegness. These constituencies make sure that every locality is able to send someone to represent them at a national level.

“Just over 3,000 votes separate Labour from the Liberal Democrats” In order to win a seat, a candidate must gain the highest number of votes out of all those who stood for election. If only one person stood, they could win simply by voting for themselves. In practice, around five candidates usually stand in each constituency, representing the main political parties and smaller fringe groups. However, even in hotly contested areas, a successful candidate does not need to win a high proportion of the votes to secure their place in parliament. They simply need to win more support than the next most

popular candidate. A winner often receives only around 30 to 40 per cent of the popular vote.

“2010 could be a landmark election: Durham has not changed hands since 1935” Where do political parties like the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats fit in? Before a general election takes place, each of the major parties select a candidate to stand for them in each constituency. A large party like Labour is able to field candidates in every seat. But smaller, less well-known parties like the Green Party may not be able to achieve this. In most constituencies, there will be a three-way contest between the major parties. In addition, members of organisations such the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) or the British National Party (BNP) may stand, as can any individual who does not represent any party. Although many of the alternatives to the three main parties represent extreme political views, candidates often fight for election over a local issue, or simply as individuals seeking a place in parliament. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, nationalist parties offer an alterna-

tive to voters. The Scottish National Party currently holds seven seats, whilst Plaid Cymru in Wales holds three. In Northern Ireland, both republican and unionist parties hold a number of constituencies. In the House of Commons, those elected as members of a political party are grouped together. Providing that a party can command more MPs than all of the other parties combined, a government can be formed. In 2005, labour won 356 seats, more than that of the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and other parties. If the totals are closer, then a coalition government may be formed, to allow two parties to work together to pass legislation. However, UK general elections tend to produce strong decisions in favour of a single party, so this rarely happens. University students living in colleges or private houses fall within the Durham City constituency. This includes the city centre area, and many surrounding villages and suburbs such as Sherburn or Framwellgate Moor. The contest in Durham is one of the closest in the country, with just over 3,000 votes separating Labour from the Liberal Democrats. Traditionally, the area has been a Labour stronghold because of support from the historic mining communities. However, in 2005 the Liberal Democrats doubled their share of the vote, with students showing hostility towards the incumbent Labour Party over the introduction of tuition fees and the continuing war in Iraq. 2010 may well be a landmark in the history of Durham City: it has not changed hands since 1935.

JACK BATTERSBY

Ahead of an expected May 6th general election, Palatinate spoke to the candidates competing for your vote

Parties are permitted to spend up to £30,000 campaigning for each parliamentary seat

Casting your vote As the general election approaches, make sure that you are registered to vote. College residents Your college office will register you to vote in the Durham City constituency. It is also possible to use a postal ballot to vote in your home constituency. Livers out In order to vote in Durham, you must register at your current residence. Livers out are also eligible to vote in their home contituency. Visit www.aboutmyvote.co.uk for more information

Roberta Blackman-Woods

Labelled as “the woman who gets things done”, Vincent McAviney finds Durham’s MP has more than delivered

Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods was elected to Parliament in 2005 having previously worked as a Lecturer at University of Newcastle and Dean of Social and Labour studies at Ruskin College, Oxford. In her first term Roberta has stacked up an impressive record of achievement including: five new Sure Start centres, new schools and an Academy with universal free school meals for primary school children, a new hospital, extended GP opening hours, a new NHS dentist and increased support for pensioners with frees bus travel, the winter fuel allowance and pension credit. When Palatinate met the busy MP at her constituency office in the Viaduct she was personable and passionate about getting her message out through positive campaigning, “The

student vote is extremely important. Students are resident here for a quite considerable time and they and the university add a huge amount to our local economy.” “But the university doesn’t only add to the local economy by employing people or spending money, the students bring a huge amount to Durham in terms of cultural activities and in particular diversity because they diversify our local population. I think that needs to be built much more into the county council strategy for the future.” When asked whether she thinks there is an issue with students voting in this constituency over home Roberta played down the issue, “I think its entirely a matter for them and they might want to think about where they have the greatest commitment personally.”

Turning to a question at the forefront of students minds, Roberta is keen to make her position on HE funding known, “Personally what I want to see is a whole range of different options for student funding being considered, I think that’s the best way to take this forward and I really like the Brown review because its an independent panel and its really looking at the detail of student funding and trying to come up with a set of proposals to take us into the future. I would hope whatever government there is next will take notice of it.”

“I want to see a whole range of different options for student funding considered” Touching on the economy Roberta staunchly defends her party’s handling of the economic crisis, “We gave help to many families and businesses during the recession. For young people there was the future jobs fund which provides a training place for all 18-24 year olds out of work for six months, I’m particularly pleased about that measure as I argued really strongly for it.”

“I have also personally been a strong supporter for increased manufacturing and green jobs through my role as Deputy Minister for the region. That’s in Nissan and wind turbine manufacturing which I’m hoping will get investment into the region.” Talking about here priorities for the next five years Roberta has clear aims, “My number one priority is jobs. For years I have been trying to get One North East and the council to put knowledge transfer from the university at the top of its agenda so Durham is really well placed for those high level manufacturing jobs. “I haven’t got there yet but its coming! We are talking about advanced manufacturing, low carbon, life sciences, creative and digital because they really are the key ones for the region and I want Durham to be at the forefront of that.” Reflecting on her first five years in office, Roberta is particularly proud of bringing in universal free school meals for primary school children, “This has had such an impact on tackling child poverty and helping all families. But it also does a lot more than this, because the schools are using local farmers resulting in a boost for the local economy whilst reducing the carbon footprint of the meals”. Asked about her next priority she responds instantly, “Protecting invest-

ment in education because I strongly believe we have to keep skilling people and I don’t want money to be taken out of education. “Increased investment in universities, particularly in science is key. I have worked a lot with the science departments at Durham to try and iron out some difficulties where there were problems.”

“In her first term Roberta has stacked up an impressive record of achievement.”

In the long term Roberta believes she can help deliver a bright future for the city, “I want to have a regeneration plan for Durham that is very much about enhancing our built environment and brings life and vibrancy back in to the city centre. More shops filled and a wider offering of night time entertainment so its not all about drinking. It should be much more about a varied culture for the city that meets a wide range of tastes. “For students I really want to see our Universities much better connected to both our regional economy but also us benefiting from the international links.”


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PALATINATE Tuesday 16th March 2010

Follow us at twitter.com/palatiELECTIONS

News and Information Elections

Carol Woods - Liberal Democrats

TweetMinster

A three-time parliamentary candidate with a decade of experience in local government

Carol Woods is a politician who puts local interests first. A local councillor since 2003, she has an extensive record of campaigning on issues affecting Durham City and the surrounding villages. Standing as a parliamentary candidate in 2001 and 2005, she oversaw a near doubling of the Liberal Democrats’ share of the vote. Meeting Palatinate in the Riverside Cafe of Dunelm House, she believes that 2010 could be the year the balance is tipped.

“This is a great place. It has got some great history and a lot of culture. But we need more infrastructure.” “It is hard to find anything that Roberta Blackman-Woods has done to make

a change. I cannot see that she has fought for her constituency on the big things like jobs, inward investment and regeneration”. Echoing the concerns of Conservative candidate Nick Varley, she attacked the voting record of the incumbent Labour MP. “She is just lobby fodder, doing exactly as her party tells her. Voting in favour of changes to the tax rate has been extremely damaging to this constituency. That is not standing up for the people of the City of Durham”. Ms Woods is keen to appeal to the mood for change amongst the electorate. “We need to go back to our tax system and political culture and create a more level playing field. Our policies will make Britain a fairer place to live”. Indeed, she strongly advocates her party’s campaign for a change to the electoral system. “If we had a proportional system, we could get rid of safe seats and make sure we got a better quality of politician. Currently, 50% of seats across the country never change hands. Many people feel

their vote does not count”. This radical agenda is matched in her views on higher education funding. “I am 100% behind abolishing tuition fees. It is a key issue for this constituency: education is the how we can build on the skills of the population and take ourselves out of the recession”. Her position is stronger than that of the National Union of Students (NUS), which is currently pressing for parliamentary candidates to pledge that they will vote against increasing top-up fees. “As a Lib Dem, I would like to go further than that. The burden of debt should not be a turn-off to those wanting to go to our universities”.

“If I am elected, the interests of Durham will always come first” Like many in her party, Ms Woods hopes that students will not be turned off by the announcement that the Liberal Democrats no longer pledge to immediately abolish tuition fees after entering government. “What we have said is to live in the real world and be realistic. However, with a phased system, we would make sure that current final-year students can benefit from the removal of fees”. Well aware of the constituency’s economic complexities, she hopes to balance the interests of students with those of the wider community. “You are our future, and we have got a great university here which

produces people who will go on to shape the country.

“The Liberal Democrats no longer pledge to immediately abolish tuition fees after entering government” “But there are probably more people aged over 50 in this constituency – they form quite a large sector of the population”. Ms Woods expressed concerns over the impact that Post Office closures in the semi-rural villages surrounding the City would have on older generations. In light of the recent failure of Durham’s bid to be the UK’s ‘Capital of Culture’ in 2013, it is clear that there is more work to be done to regenerate the area. “I think this is a great place. It has got some great history and a lot of culture. But I think we need more infrastructure, inward investment and regional development”. With strong local credentials and an energetic team, many believe Ms Woods presents the only serious alternative to Labour in the constituency. “I will fight for all the people of this area, including students” she says. “If I am elected, the interests of Durham will always come first”. It remains to be seen whether her message will be powerful enough to dispossess Labour for the first time since 1931.

Nick Varley - Conservatives

A twenty year old student hoping to become the youngest ever Conservative MP finally given the candidacy in November 2008. But his success was marred by a se- “We need to avoid a ries of negative comments on the website situation where we ConservativeHome.com. “There may be some people who are jealous of the position I am in. I certainly reduce the number of recognise that my age may be an issue for some, but the people who know me per- people attending sonally have been extremely supportive”. His campaign in Durham is centred university” around attacks on the record of incumbent

In 2008, Nick Varley beat off competition from a City banker and a senior NHS professional to become the Conservatives’

for parliament from 21 to 18. However, he faces competition from Emily Benn – daughter of veteran Labour left-winger Tony – who is three months younger and attempting to overturn a Conservative majority in the constituency of Shoreham, Sussex.

“The student vote can win or lose the election “Despite his Tory for any candidate” instincts, Mr Varley has youngest ever parliamentary candidate. Two years later, he has got serious ambitions of winning the seat for the Tories for retained a strong sense the first time since 1922. Speaking to Palatinate in his constitu- of loyalty to ency office on Old Elvet, what is immediately evident is that Mr Varley fits very university-goers” few political stereotypes. “I have always been interested in politics and the news”, he says. “Before the 2005 general election, I realised that I agreed with what the Conservatives were saying. So I joined the party, and took things from there”. In 2005, a change in the law reduced the age at which candidates could stand

His modest, down-to-earth approach clearly impressed party officials and the local Conservative Association. Whilst still studying for a degree in law, he was put through a rigorous selection process to test his public speaking ability and media savvy. After a series of interviews, he was

Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods. “She just does what she is told by the whips. She has represented Durham by simply following the interests of her party and Gordon Brown. I do not think she has exercised good judgement in promoting constituency interests”.

“I will not vote in favour of a rise in tuition fees, regardless of what my party says” Speaking for many in the Conservative Party, Mr Varley highlighted his discontent with economic management since 1997. “Labour was handed one of the best economies in Europe. Now, we have rising inflation and a huge public deficit. We have had an unsustainable boom based on personal and government debt. For me, the record is disappointing. Locally, he believes the student vote holds the potential to win or lose the election for any candidate. “Without doubt, if those at Durham University all voted the

same way, they would be extremely powerful. The key issue – as with young people generally – is getting them engaged in politics. Even if it is just a couple of hours spent Googling each party, people have to sit down and make the effort”. Despite his Tory instincts, Mr Varley has retained a strong sense of loyalty to university-goers. “I will not vote in favour of a rise in tuition fees, regardless of what the party says. I would like to stick with the current level: everybody now recognises that free education just is not possible”. With the ongoing review of higher education, there is growing belief that the cap on tuition fees will be lifted. “The political reality is that no party wants to have to raise fees” said Varley. “Apart from the unpopularity it would bring, we need to avoid a situation where we reduce the number of people attending university”. Straight-talking and moderate, Nick Varley is at the forefront of the modern Conservative movement. Above his desk, two posters present an accurate reflection of his party’s hopes for the future. Winston Churchill for strong leadership through difficult times; David Cameron for the friendly face of 21st century government.

Jack Battersby

How important will the internet be in deciding the result of the 2010 general election? If Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign is anything to go by, UK political parties underestimate it at their peril. It is clear that the Democrats pioneered effective use of new-age social networking. For every knock on a door, it is possible that there were a hundred e-mails sent. For every leaflet handed out, countless Facebook groups, Tweets and blogs. History will judge the American experience as a watershed in political campaigning. But whilst younger generations needed very little persuading to flock to their computers, parties were forced into maintaining some of the more traditional methods to appeal to older voters. Campaigners could not leave it all to the internet: they had to spend some time in the real world. Politicians in the UK are all too wary of this. On the surface, their stick-in-themud tendencies are understandable. In 2005, nearly twice as many pensioners as young people voted. Why risk alienating the older demographic by abandoning age-old methods if young people are not going to turn out and cast their vote? But embracing the internet does not have to exclude campaign perennials. Parties can effectively maintain an online presence for very little cost. Indeed, if they do it well enough, party professionals can substitute their own efforts for those of internet users. Persuading an individual to forward an e-mail is infinitely easier than putting together a door-to-door campaign team. Perhaps one of the most important effects of new-age social media has been the acceleration of the news cycle. When a story is made public, it is quickly turned inside out by Twitter and the blogosphere. That means that the public no longer relies on a single source for a story, such as a newspaper or a television news programme. New social networking outlets become places for a wide range of individuals and organisations to present their take on the news. Take the recent controversy surrounding ‘bully Brown’ – allegations made about the Prime Minister’s overbearing style of management. As the story broke, my Twitter feed came alive. First came the BBC’s take on the story. Above that, several major tabloid and broadsheet newspapers. Then two of my friends posted comments on the allegations, whilst a few bloggers began advertising their websites. By the evening, I could have identified hundreds of separate sources for the story. If ‘bully Brown’ is anything to go by, it is clear that political parties can no longer rely on traditional media outlets to get their version of the news heard. Follow us at: twitter.com/palatiELECTIONS for more news & views in the run up to the general election. Want to write for Elections? E-mail the section editor at: elections@palatinate.org.uk to join the mailing list.


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11

PALATINATE Tuesday 16th March 2010

Check out more articles at palatinate.org.uk

Short story Competition

Short Story Competition What can you do with 1,000 words? Quite a lot, it seems... Palatinate set you a challenge: wow our judge Bill Bryson to win a signed copy of one of his books. We had loads of great entries, but here are the top picks

First Place: Benigno Alfa and the Kids by Rosa Rankin-Gee Benigno Alfa was like a fat Fagin. Except he wasn’t Jewish. He was half-Italian, half-Indian, a third Scottish and a quarter Kilburn. That added up to more that one person, but like I said, he was very fat. I met him in a midnight blue restaurant. I thought I was going on a date, but when I turned up this big fat man was at the table too. He had a huge veal escalope on his fork, and he talked to me in French. I avoided his eye. It wasn’t just that he was fat, he had a hole in his cashmere. It’s one or the other, you can’t do both. My French was shit. “You’re English.” he said.And so was he. He was from Kilburn. And so was I. “I once wrote a story about a nuclear bomb destroying the whole world except for Kilburn,” I said. “Anyway, why here, Benigno? Why Paris?” “This place. This is mine. Restaurants.” And he called out for cheese. I was 21, unemployed and I asked Beni if I could have a job. I started the next day. Not at that navy restaurant, but up the road in a former printers, white and windows, on a curved corner, snow dome winters and greenhouse summers.

This is how it was: we got paid in tequila and tips and by tricking the till. We were all young. There was Sam the Teeth, who liked red wine too much, and Meryn, bra-less breasts and eczema. Leonardo, this beautiful Argentinean revolutionary in white t-shirts, and tiny Aubine, unreliable and aggressive to customers. Wore the prettiest dresses though. I don’t have time to name them all, all these other young people. But there were dreadlocks and old denim, freckles, lots of accents and smokers and sexualities. And Beni was always there, tucked under a table, in a corner, in a hat, with an English breakfast and a glass of claret. He left the beans, but never the claret. He introduced me to everyone. “Sheyna, this is the best girl from North London you will meet. Treat her well. Upset her and I’m docking your pay.” And Linus. “Linus, meet Scarlett. Tell her she’s beautiful. Linus is going to build me a boat from the very best Norwegian wood, aren’t you Linus?” Beni called us ‘the kids’. I sat with him when it was quiet. On youtube, he played me Seu Jorge, and it made my nose sting. He was paper-thin when he was younger. I only ever saw one photo, but you can

tell he could have had any girl in the world. The trouble was we never got paid properly. The moneyman was Alessio from the midnight restaurant. You went to see him down in the kitchens, by the big fridges. He didn’t know any of our names and always said “So, Marie…” to me, even though Marie was black. I was too English to stand my ground. We’re not good at talking about money. I asked for mine apologetically, and apologised again when Alessio said there wasn’t any. I came back from Alessio once, crying. The walk was so cold and my cheeks looked like they’d been scrubbed with a Brillo pad. “Beni, it’s not fucking funny any more. It’s all smiles and Seu Jorge and tequila here. All I eat are these fucking fatty chips, and I’ve got to pay my rent tomorrow and I can’t.” I wiped my nose on my fur coat. “Look,” he said, and he looked left, then right, like he was crossing the road. He patted at his chest like he was smoothing down an invisible tie, left hand, right hand, left again. “Look,” he said, “I promise. On my honour, kid. I promise you’ll get your money tomorrow.” And his eyes went kind of dewy and I said OK, and yes, fine, I’ll go and get

you the ketchup. A pretty bad day was when the old barman Karim stole my iPod. He was Barbès born and bred. Second-generation Algerian: face gutted with acne scars, permanent Kangol cap and slick shoes.

“Ca va, meuf?” he said as he walked in. He’d been fired so many times. But they couldn’t get rid of him because they owed him so much money. He’d come in with a friend who only had gold teeth and they’d eat lamb tagine out of take away foil and drink our vodka. “They owe me thousands,” he told me this particular day, “just give me twenty from the till.” “I can’t Karim,” I said, “it’ll get docked from my pay.” He ordered a steak, and when I was mak-

ing a coffee, he stole my iPod and ran out, cold tagine kicked all over the floor. After the second winter in the snow dome, I had to leave. I was getting calls every day from Credit Mutuel, and my dad said he’d pay for my Eurostar home. Beni had lost his spot in his corner. He came in less now, once a week maybe, and didn’t stay for booze or breakfast. The grapevine said he was fighting with Alessio, or suicidal...both, I don’t know. He never answered his phone any more. I sent him a text saying I was leaving, and that I needed my money. And that I missed him. He called, on the tinny work phone. “Scarlett, throw yourself a goodbye party in the restaurant. Invite all the kids. I’ll come, and I’ll get you your money. On my honour girl, I’ll get you your money”. I could hardly hear him. The party got out of hand. We ate smoked salmon out of the fridge and kissed. We smoked inside and made long island ice teas with way more than four spirits. Beni never came, and so I never saw him again. But around midnight, he sent me a message. Look behind the ketchup bottles he said, I said I would. He’d left me an envelope.

some sort of context.” “Not necessarily,” he said. “Look at this part.” They both edged closer to the monitor, and there was a few seconds silence as they read. “I mean, this exchange could be between a builder and a foreman; it could be between the CEO and a manager in a Fortune 500 company; it could be between Hitler and Goebbels in the Führerbunker, for all we know. It’s better if there’s no context, in a way - allows the reader to imprint their own meaning on a story, or something wanky like that.” “But even then, there is at least some context, surely? Even if the characters per se aren’t tied down, the relationship between them in a way tells you who they are? I mean, in this part, like you said, it could be a foreman and a builder, or a CEO and a manager, but it’s always going to be a boss and a subordinate - because that’s the dynamic you’re creating with your dialogue.” There was a long pause. They each took a sip from their respective glasses. “Listen,” the writer said, finally. “It’s two in the morning - I’m halfway towards being drunk, and I’ve got to get this done pretty

soon. I don’t really have time to start discussing the deep philisophical issues surrounding the medium of the written narrative. I just want to try to fit this to the word limit, to be honest.” “Well, that’s another point - is there any universally accepted way to stretch it in the middle? I mean, this always seems to happen when I write to a predefined word count - I always end up a few hundred words either way, but with a fixed beginning and end, so the middle of the text suffers terribly, either from being summarised down to the very bare bone of the argument, or from being padded out to the extent that everything is just packed with fatty adjectives and meaningless asides,” “Fatty adjectives?” “Oh, you know what I mean: big, impressive-looking ones, which show off the size of your dictionary but are only really there, in the end, because they’ve been crowbarred in to bring up a word count which is sadly lacking.” “Ah, right - you mean filler words.” “...Quite possibly, yes.” “Yeah - you’ve got to be wary about those. They’re good in some situations, but if you use too many, you just end up look-

ing like you’re showing off. You mentioned asides - they’re the best way of filling up space, in my opinion. You just ramble on for as long as you can, trying to stay linked to the topic in hand - however tenuous the connection is, it’s fair game as long as it’s there - and by the time you’ve finished, you’re hopefully a lot closer to where you want to be.” “Yeah, I’ve always found they work well especially if you can keep them running for a while.” “Right. Then, once you’ve finished with those, you find yourself, often unexpectedly, pretty close to the end, and having to squeeze your prepared ending into a tiny amount of words.” “And then you actually have to come up with some sort of method of ending the thing, which is always a bit of a challenge.’ ‘Yeah - with something like this, I really think you do have to get the reader to think about what you’ve just done. I mean, if you’ve just written a novel, you can end poignantly, and they can just sit back and reflect; but something like this, you’ve got to end like you started - abruptly - so they can finish reading and then sit forward and think ‘what the hell just happened?’”

“This is how it was: we got paid in tequila and tips and by tricking the till. We were all young.”

Second Place: Untitled by Matthew Palmer “Well, you’ve got to start abruptly, you see. If you spend too much time on pointless exposition you’re half-done before you’ve even got started.” “But surely you’ve got to set some sort of scene?” “...You haven’t really got time, to be honest. Maybe you’ve got enough time to describe a landscape, if you’re one of those Tolkeinesque writers who can spout a thousand words just explaining how lovely the grass is with the breeze blowing through it and still have thoughts to impart on the matter, but wanting to give the reader a good sense of who your characters are - where they’re going; what they want: their dreams, hopes, aspirations, and all that bollocks - all in a thousand words, is pretty ambitious.” “Yeah, I suppose. I mean, what’s-hisname spent hundreds of pages trying to explain Raskolini-thing, and all I really got was that he was mental and vaguely manpretty - so what chance’ve you got?” “Well, exactly. I mean...wait, hang on, when did you read Crime and Punishment?” “Had to, for a class, a couple of months back. Well, I say read - I read the first few chapters, then most of the summary at

the back of the book. Think I got the gist, though.” “Right. I think there was a touch more to the character than your analysis suggests insightful as it was - but I see where you’re coming from. I mean, Dostoevsky was meant to be a psychological genius, and it still took him ages to get any character established to his satisfaction.”

“I say read - I read the first few chapters, then most of the summary” “So if you’re not going to elaborate landscape design and you’re not going to do a huge amount of character development, what are you going to do?” “Dialogue - dialogue’s the key to a short story. If you can get a good dialogue going, you can build the relationship between the characters in implicitly without ever telling the reader exactly who these characters are.” “Well, you sort of do have to explain who the characters are, surely? You need

On a suburban street, two masked men seize a young woman. They bind and gag her and take her to an abandoned, soundproofed apartment. Her kidnappers, the coldly efficient Vic and his younger accomplice Danny, have worked out a meticulous plan. But Alice is not going to play the perfect victim – she’s not giving in without a fight... To celebrate the release of ‘The Disappearance of Alice Creed’Palatinate have teamed up with distributors CinemaNX to bring you an exciting competition. Prizes include tickets to see the film as well as signed merchandise. To enter simply answer the following question: Which James Bond film did Gemma Arterton star in? a) Golden Eye

b) Quantum of Solace

c) The World is Not Enough

Email your answers to competition@palatinate.org.uk. Competition closes 23/03/10.


12

Tuesday 16th March 2010 PALATINATE

News and Information Careers

Careers Careers Column

What sort of activities and responsibilities does a job as a Marine Engineer Officer for the Royal Navy entail? “Royal Navy Marine Engineer Officers lead the team of skilled technicians who keep the ship running. They take responsibility for the ship’s hull and engines, as well as the power, water, air and hydraulics systems. In an emergency, they also lead a damage-control and fire fighting team, reporting directly to the Captain. The mission – and the lives of the men onboard – depends on their technical and management skills. You also have a strong responsibility for the welfare of your team; everything from their professional career development and personal issues to disciplinary matters and just someone to talk to.” Did you always think you would become part of the armed forces? What motivated you to join? “It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. The sense of pride and adventure really fired my imagination. As I got older I found I had a talent for engineering and the Royal Navy had roles that allowed me to challenge my engineering skills as well as giving me the adventure and variety that I was looking for.”

What is the best part of your job as a Marine Engineer in the Royal Navy? “Aside from the adventure, great travel, excellent sporting opportunities, unique professional challenge and superb salary? It must the teamwork: I work as part of close knit crew and I trust my shipmates with my life, as they do me with theirs. You make friends that will last the rest of your life. I also gain a great satisfaction and feel proud for being part of something that makes a real difference worldwide.” For more information on Officer engineering careers in the Royal Navy , visit www. royalnavy.mod.uk/careers or call 08456 075 555

The jobless graduate’s careers guide

Some words of wisdom on how to avoid becoming a jobless, planless finalist

Are Durham students prepared to leave the castle walls and set foot in the real world?

Matthew Brown

T

here is only one word banned in our all-finalist house this year, and that is the dreaded C-word: careers. After two and a half years of Peter-Pan style trepidation over the future, I am starting to wonder whether this ostrich approach to careers is a good idea. Surely it is time to get our proverbial heads out of the sand and get involved? People might see the irony of taking careers advice from someone who, as we approach the final push, remains jobless after only a few, tentative attempts at applications, and those with jobs already planned out are welcome to look away now. However, having experienced the pressures of bal-

ancing lengthy job applications with a dissertation and last-minute attempts to boost a decidedly thin CV, I am a stronger careers advisor than most. And in an increasingly competitive jobs market, graduates should draw on all the help they can get.

“Start thinking about what is important to you in a career ”

My first piece of advice is to start thinking about careers as early as possible. Whilst agreeing with Clare Nadal’s piece from the last edition that primary school is slightly excessive, I wish my schools had done more to at least get me to think about my options

at an earlier age. Add together careers advice at secondary school amounting to little more than ‘concentrate on your studies and a career will sort itself out’, and a disposition not naturally inclined towards pro-activity, and you almost inevitably end up, several years later, with decent academic results but no job. Start thinking about what is important to you in a career - money or job satisfaction, private or public sector - and have a look at job descriptions on the direct.gov. uk website. These are difficult questions to face, but the sooner you start thinking about answering them, the less likely you are to end up in my wayward boat. Secondly, and probably most importantly, get pro-active. Whilst it is not worth sacrificing your degree for this, you hear a suspicious number of success stories from people who did not do particularly well with their degrees as a result of doing huge amounts of extra-curricular, and have gone on to become sickeningly successful and/or ridiculously rich. Jeremy Vine got a 2:2 from Durham because he did so much work for our very own Palatinate. Plus, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry spent so much time being funny at Cambridge that neither got the first they were capable of, the former gaining only a third. Unless you are absurdly articulate or comic I am not suggesting you ditch the degree in order to devote your time to searching for your big break - it is about finding the right balance - but it is an unfortunate fact that a decent degree alone is unlikely to land you a good job. Luckily, Durham is the perfect place to bolster that CV: get involved with DUCK, join a college society, help in the community with Team Durham, write for Palatinate, talk for Purple Radio, and get funding for your travelling during the holidays. A cen-

tral aspect of modern applications is competency questioning, and these are exactly the things you need if you do not wish to be deemed incompetent. Instead of all that, of course, you could just ask daddy to get you a job at the firm, but my third (and bitterest) piece of advice for those not fortunate enough to have those sorts of connections is to use the ones you do have. Sometimes you might have useful links without even knowing it, so ask around; if your third uncle twice removed’s love child works at Accenture, then it is worth at least politely enquiring if he or she can get you any experience.

“Durham is the perfect place to bolster a CV ”

Which brings me to my final piece of careers advice: work experience. Not only will getting a taste of a real working environment help you to decide whether it is right for you, it will also put you in the types of situations which employers look for when testing your competencies. It is notoriously difficult to get a placement or internship at the moment, but to state the obvious, the more you apply to, the more likely you are to get something. Use all the elements at your disposal to (preferably metaphorically) beg, steal or borrow your way to some experience. As well as using contacts, look on employers’ websites to see what they offer, bombard them with e-mails if they do not seem to offer much, and go into local businesses and plead. Work experience, whilst often unpaid, will recompense you in valuable life experience and interview gold. Preaching over, I am off to start following my own advice. Happy hunting!

Teach First: a “truly transformatory programme”? A charity that aims to tackle unemployment and a lack of inspiring teaching with one stone Catherine Adamson

“I am challenged, stimulated, excited, and never bored”: Ruth Elborn, a 2009 graduate from St Chad’s College, is teaching Citizenship in a challenging inner-city school in London through Teach First’s Leadership Development Programme for graduates. Teach First, an independent charity launched in 2002, takes exceptional, highcalibre graduates and places them in a rigorous six week summer institute to begin training, before entering classrooms around the country in September. In a two-year programme they gain a PGCE and the opportunity to study a Masters in Education. What is the purpose of this exactly?

“The mission: to transform graduates into inspiring teachers” In the UK, the biggest indicator of a child’s academic performance is parental wealth. Pupils who are eligible for free school meals have roughly half the chance of getting 5 A*-C GCSEs compared to their wealthier peers. But, research shows that an effective teacher is key to raising the achievement of these pupils. The mission of

Teach First is to “address educational disadvantage by transforming exceptional graduates into inspirational teachers and leaders in all fields”. This is without doubt a difficult task and Teach First teachers take on an enormous amount of responsibility from the beginning. Elin Morris, a 2006 graduate from University College, says she has gained “unparalleled leadership experiences in and out of the classroom, and a fearlessness that can only be developed through teaching physics to a class of thirty-plus bottom set pupils” from her Teach First experiences. However, with this inspirational experience comes the challenge of teaching. Elin continues, “the biggest challenge for me was overcoming the pupil apathy and disaffection I faced in my classes… you have to learn to fail very early on… it might feel like you are not making progress or that the challenge is insurmountable”. Teach First has gained support from all main political parties, teaching unions, graduate organisations and over eighty leading employers. Speaking in 2008 Gordon Brown stated that “teachers help to move young people from what they are to what they can be. Teach First is changing the world” while Secretary of State for Schools Ed Balls claimed Teach First was a “truly transformatory programme”. The 2008 Ofsted Report stated that

Teach First teachers “were judged by inspectors to be amongst the most exceptional trainees produced by any teacher training route” and in 2009 Teach First gained eighth place on the coveted league of the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers, an immense feat for a charity. With the programme expanding this year, currently recruiting 630 participants

and aiming for 1,000 by 2013, there seems to be no stopping Teach First. Elin Morris, now a graduate recruitment officer, describes Teach First as “challenging, rewarding and inspirational”. Ruth Elborn, who is still in her first year in the classroom, states that it is “madness, but worth it”. To find out more information about Teach First please visit graduates.teachfirst.org.uk TINA Y.LIN

What qualities would the Royal Navy look for in someone who applied to work for them as an engineer? “The breadth of equipment that you are responsible for is one of the biggest challenges: In a space of 10 minutes you could be dealing with problems with everything from the main propulsion to heavy electrical generation to sewage disposal and galley ovens – the ability to think on your feet and rapidly assimilate lots of information into a plan of attack is essential. You will also be called upon to lead your team, sometimes in periods of stress and danger, and you will need to motivate them to give their best; we’re looking for that leadership potential. Most importantly a sense of humour and the ability to not take yourself to seriously is also vital for getting through the tough times!”

The latest news in the graduate jobs market Advice from the Careers Advisory Service

CHRIS TAYLOR

Careers opportunities: The Navy The Royal Navy’s recruitment campaign hit Durham’s Science, Engineering and IT fair on the 10th February, advertising potential careers for graduates. Captain Davis-Marks says the Royal Navy is after “Technically minded graduates who feel that they need a new challenge. We offer a top choice in graduate recruitment with some of the best training in the world ranging from aeronautical engineering to electrical, systems and marine engineering.” Lieutenant Paul Reeves, a Marine Engineer Officer in the Royal Navy, attended the event and agreed to answer a few questions for Palatinate:

Follow us on Twitter @palatiCAREERS

Teach First’s mission is to “address educational disadvantage” by providing inspiring teaching


13

PALATINATE Tuesday 16th March 2010

Check out our archive of interviews at palatinate.org.uk

Interviews Profile

Profile Bill Bryson: from travel writer to familiar face in Durham Look inside the minds of today’s big movers Interviews with those shaping the world

To mark the fifth anniversary of his appointment as University Chancellor, Palatinate caught up with the American author to talk about his tenure, his environmental and organ campaigning, and his latest book

Vincent McAviney

T

he day before my interview with Bill Bryson I had been working in the library when all of a sudden a clatter of whispers informed me that the man himself had been spotted. Such is the affection for our chancellor that students around me started making unnecessary trips around the library to try and spot the writer. As I entered the Marriott Hotel to meet with Bill I thought about the numerous times I had seen our Chancellor. As a fresher I first encountered him in the dining hall when he sat down at our table to ask us for our organs - not right there and then, but for his highly successful ‘My Friend Olly’ donation campaign. During the next two years I had seen him at different events before he finally conferred my degree to me last summer with a handshake. Sitting down to finally talk to him properly I hoped that the colourful and witty character conveyed in his works was the real Bill. As we sat down, my fears that he wouldn’t be the astute and engaging American I expected were quickly put to rest as he interviewed me with genuine interest in who I was, the places I had grown up and my time in Durham. Indeed, we got so immersed in chatting about trekking through Europe I forgot I was meant to be the interviewer. I opened things by asking him how he has found the somewhat mysterious position of University Chancellor, “I can hardly believe its five years! It’s just gone amazingly quickly. It’s the most marvellous thing, I mean I really, really love Durham”. Bryson enthused in his unique AngloAmerican accent, “I think the students are just fantastically adorable, I really mean it, they’re just such nice people. You have to bear in mind that as a writer I live a very solitary life and most of my existence is just at home in Norfolk - my kids have grown up now, so most of the time its just me and my wife and I have a very happy life. But there’s something quite wonderful about coming in and just being exposed to all this energy and all this stuff that’s going on”. So it’s not a chore having to come up here each term? “It’s not a duty no, absolutely not, it really really doesn’t feel like that. Even things that I thought would probably be a bit tedious like congregations are not at all”. Even though you have to preside over fourteen identical ceremonies? “I had no idea what it would be like to shake 3,000 hands and to go through 14 ceremonies - I had assumed it would become quite tedious but in fact it doesn’t. “The thing you really do realise as every kid comes up to the stage is that they are an individual and I am there for this moment when most of the time their eyes light up and they realise ‘OK, wow I’ve made it, I’ve done it, this thing that I’ve been working on for three or four years I’ve finally achieved and this is the moment of recognition of that’. And I’m there on the stage seeing that expression on their faces and you don’t get tired of that”. When we turned to the more serious issue of university funding I raise a comment the newly appointed Bryson had made in support of increasing fees in his first interview with Palatinate five years ago, “That was kind of misinterpreted - what I said, and I’m actually really grateful to have the chance to clarify that, was that I come from a place where you pay a lot of money to go to university.

“The case I always cite is my daughterin-law’s father who’s a cop in Chicago, so comes from a very blue collar background and they had three children and put them all through university. It would have cost him about a quarter of a million dollars to put three children through university on a policeman’s pay. That’s insane, so the point I was making here was, when people start talking about a couple of thousand pounds, particularly a place like Durham where most of you come from pretty good backgrounds, perhaps the moaning is exaggerated. So I was just trying to put the argument in a bit of perspective”. Bryson spoke candidly and unscripted on the issue, contradicting the position of our Vice-Chancellor by saying that “by making people pay just over £3,000, a lot of people can afford it. But for some people it does actually give them a bad debt and I think it’s wrong to send people out into a world at the age of 21 deeply indebted.

“I think it’s wrong to send people out into a world at the age of 21 deeply indebted.” “It’s hard enough to get on in life anyway, and how much difference is this going to make to the system because the fact of the matter is if you really want to fund universities properly through tuition fees you are going to have to charge like America does. Then you are going to have this colossal debt. So if all you’re doing is leaving people with debts of fifteen or twenty thousands pounds you are only going to make a marginal difference to the quality of the university, and you are going to make some people suffer a lot. So in that sense I don’t think that tuition fees are a good thing”. “But having said that if you do want to have world class universities in this country then you are going to have to figure out some way to pay for them and clearly, because you know just how much American universities have, and if we are going to compete with those here, for my mind the real answer is people have got to be persuaded to be more generous in giving. Particularly alumni, it’s a big part in American universities and I’m not at all embarrassed to be going to them and asking for money in the Chancellor’s Appeal every year. Essentially to say ‘Give what you can’, because I think everybody can give something even if it’s just £25 or so. We have to break this idea that universities are completely state funded because that’s just not going to happen - the state is going to have to fund it up to a very high point but then all the additional stuff is going to have to come from somewhere and you are either going to do it through tuition fees, which I think is not a good road to go down, or through some kind of giving”. In his 2008 Panorama programme ‘Notes on a Dirty Island’ Bryson stated that he had spent a lot of his adult life “moaning and complaining” about problems but that for once in his life he would try and do

something and make a difference. He has since been involved with the Campaign to Protect Rural England and is keen to talk about environmental issues in Durham. “I think Durham students and the institution really need to face up to the fact that - it’s not by any means an exclusively university problem - but there is an awful lot of Friday night drink-related litter. I think students must generate tons of empty plastic cups per year, most of which end up in bushes!” When asked if he thinks the university is doing enough to go green Bryson responds, “I don’t really know if they are doing enough, but what I do know is that the university seems to care very much. All of these initiatives, the environmental fair when I was here in January for instance, shows it’s something that the university really cares about and I was asking somebody how we compare to the others [universities], and they said ‘Pretty good, but we could still be doing a lot better’. Durham’s pretty good at recycling waste I guess, but not as good as it could be at other things like conserving fuel and reducing electricity usage”. “You really can’t do like for like comparisons though with a university where much of it was built in the medieval period and historic past compared with a modern university. The answer to a question like that though is that we can always do a whole lot more, all of us individually and collectively, but I really am convinced that Durham is taking it seriously and wants to do a lot about it”. Those going on in years at Durham will remember the Chancellor’s energetic campaign ‘My Friend Olly’. When I asked Bryson about

the campaign he re-

sponds enthusiastically, “Just before you came this morning I had a meeting with a lovely woman named Jane Pavet who is a university employee, and she is going to be looking after it. The problem we had, as with any sustained campaign, is that you get a certain amount of momentum going and then you all graduate and bugger off and

“I had no idea what it would be like to shake 3,000 hands - I thought it would get tedious but it doesn’t” you really do have to go back to square one. “So what they have finally realised is that we need for there to be somebody within the university who is a custodian of this campaign so that when the next people come in it already has a certain amount of momentum and you can just pass the baton rather than starting all over from scratch”. “It’s such a good thing because it takes so little - a very high proportion o f

people would be very happy to join the organ donor register, they just don’t get around to doing it. And the best people to get on the organ donor register are young people because if you do die and some of you do, your organs are young and strong and exactly the sort that people need. I think it would be wonderful if Durham was a model for other universities to follow”. Coming to the end of our time Bill is full of praise for the winners of our short story competion (p11). When I ask him if he has been working on any more bestsellers he lights up. “I’ve just finished my new book actually. The book comes out at the end of May, just in time to give as a graduation present actually! Coincidentally” he says (with a rye smile). “The book is going to be called At Home: A Short History of Private Life and the whole idea is that I have been promising my wife for a long time that I would do a book where I wouldn’t travel a lot and go away, and I thought ‘Well what I am going to do? Particularly after I’ve done A Short History of Nearly Everything what am I going to do now!’ “And then I thought ‘Oh, I’ll just treat our house as a universe!’ We live in an old rectory in Norfolk and I’ll just wander around it and write a history of all the things that constitute it. So the whole idea is that I go from room to room in our own house and I write about the history of those rooms so that the bathroom is a history of hygiene, the kitchen is the history of cooking, whatever’s the subject that’s relevant to those rooms. “I thought it was going to be really easy and fun to do, but it turned out to be an enormous undertaking because when you set out to write the history of cooking, that’s quite a big subject - and that’s just one chapter!” At the end of our interview Bill was being whisked away to go and visit something exciting on the Science Site, but took the time to ask me about my research, he asked questions and wished me luck, and though I didn’t get another degree with this handshake, it was nice to meet a literary hero who exceeded my expectations.


Tuesday 16th March 2010 PALATINATE

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Comment Featured article

Comment From the Union This is my last column as president, and I’d like to use it as an opportunity to reflect on the last term – everyone and everything that have made it special. This term has been unusually busy: the furore surrounding the cancelled multiculturalism debate swallowed three weeks of my time, answering press questions, getting hate mail, meeting the police and having to make some really tough decisions. I’ve also had loads of great experiences that have taken up my time – taking speakers to Klute, showing an ambassador around the Cathedral, organising bands, making curry for everyone on General Committee and having dinner with some really interesting people. But I’ve been really fortunate to have had an amazing team of people around me who have made the challenges easier and the good times even better. My first thanks goes to them: thank you to everyone who has been on standing this term, everyone who has been an officer, everyone who works in the Union office and bar and everyone on gen comm. You have been supportive, impressively professional and kind, and without all of you, the Union couldn’t function. I have learned, this term especially, that there are some really exceptional people in life: people that stick by you through good and bad times, keep you sane when no-one else seems to be, drink tea with you when you need a break, are always on the end of a phone, and make you laugh – intentionally or otherwise. During my time at the Union I have been lucky enough to meet, work with, and count among my closest friends, Ed, Mhairi, Will, Sam and Rishi, and I especially want to say thank you to all of you for being so wonderful. I really value your friendship. I couldn’t have asked for a better farewell debate: last week we had four excellent speakers, including our own Tim Finlay and Kitty Francis, Steve Nolan, a European debating finalist, and Peta Todd, a Page 3 girl for the Sun. Peta shattered every stereotype and made the debate one of the best I’ve been to.

A hung parliament could be good for the UK

The prospect has been causing market jitters, yet there are advantages we should consider Alexandra Bottomer

T

he financial markets have been wobbling recently. No, I am not referring to the meteoric vibrations which shook the globe following the collapse of Lehman Brothers. I instead reference the somewhat more modest fluctuations of markets anxious about the prospect of a hung parliament in the UK. For most voters in the UK, the last hung parliament, following the February election of 1974, is a distant and dusty memory of eight months of indecision and inter-party squabbling which led to a second snap election in October of the same year. The second set of results were barely any more conclusive than the first, with Labour having a three-seat majority. Their tiny lead was eroded by by-election defeats, resulting in a weak minority government trampled by the rise of the Tories under Margaret Thatcher. Here endeth the history lesson. The country may have little recollection of the political waverings of the mid-1970s; however, the financial markets memorize times of turmoil with far greater accuracy than any disillusioned voter. The Cabinet Office has published a draft ‘rule book’ in an attempt to avoid controversy should a hung parliament arise. It works on the principle that the old government would act in a ‘caretaker capacity’ until it becomes apparent who in the new Parliament commands the confidence and authority to form a new government. In these circumstances, the Prime Minister would not be allowed to make any important decision which could hinder any future government. This strategy would seem nothing short of sensible to the average voter, if not a little dull. The markets, however, are somewhat more dubious about the prospect of a government which is politically and constitutionally impotent and as such is unable to dispense some much-needed fiscal Viagra, in the form of strong financial policy.

“The UK is unique in its desire to form a government within Upcoming Events hours of a confirmed election result” There is one more thing coming

up this term. We are having a big St. Patrick’s Day bash at 24, with free cider and Guinness, live acts, and the bar open ‘til 2am. I hope to see lots of you there, celebrating Ireland or simply an end to essay deadlines for the term. I’d like to wish Rory White-Andrews, our incoming Easter President, all the luck in the world next term. He has some excellent debates and speakers, and an amazing garden party lined up, so I’m looking forward to it! I know that he will do a stellar job. I would like to encourage everyone to check out his plans for next term. I would also like to wish luck to our Schools’ Debating Competition conveners with the competition this coming weekend.

Our writers discuss topical matters This edition: Is it right to vote at uni?

In a country still constitutionally bound to the monarchy, some have suggested that in the event of a hung parliament, the Queen should abandon her traditional non-political stance and personally select the Prime Minister from the candidates put forward by the coalition parties. This is absurd. I wholeheartedly embrace the advantages of a non-political head of state; to undermine this would be to undermine the established role of the monarchy as it has developed since the beheading of Charles I. The Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, has said that if a hung parliament arose in the present political climate, it would be Gordon Brown’s duty to stay in office until a stable government was reached. Regarding the political role of the Queen, O’Donnell stated that it is “the re-

sponsibility of the Prime Minister to ensure that the monarch remains above politics and that when the Prime Minister resigns it is very apparent who the Queen should be calling to produce the next hopefully stable government”. The international credit ratings agencies have the power to downgrade the colossal debt carried by our government if they see evidence of successful implementation of austerity measures. All three parties are currently promising to introduce a variety of methods of budget austerity in order to reduce the mammoth deficit the country is begrudgingly facing. Darling’s December pre-Budget report proposed a ‘Four Year Plan’ which states the proportion of spending cuts and tax increases, yet fails to address where cuts will be made or a more long-term strategy of economic repair.

SIMON GREIG

Anna Birley

Debate with us on Twitter @PalatiCOMMENT

“It is the Lib Dems who hold the key to unlock the potential of a hung parliament” Indeed, there is some rationality in markets’ fears; there is a strong correlation between a high Labour poll rating and Stirling falling in value against the Euro. Correlation, however, does not imply causation and the whole situation could be attributed to jittery, recession-bruised markets trying to dictate political policy. Yet, it could be argued that the markets have a right to be a little uneasy. Decisions need to be taken over a long-term plan for economic recovery soon after the next general election and whilst all parties are united in an austerity policy, they are also united in a crisis of indecision. The markets fear that with a hung parliament, the parties would adopt polarised positions, resulting in financial dithering over whether to tax or spend. From this analysis, it is not the continuation of a Labour government which the markets baulk at most but instead, an indecisive, oscillatory economic strategy. The one factor that is being overlooked is the amount the world has changed since 1974. In 2010, there is no reason why a coalition government should not be forced to function. Indeed, it may be a positive development in a country which lacks a codified constitution and whimpers at the prospect of constitutional reform. Germany has one of the strongest economies in the European Union and it exists in a state of perpetual governmental coalition. Greece, by contrast, has floundered under what was perceived as a ‘strong’ oneparty leadership. Moreover, since 1970, ten of the largest fiscal consolidations in member states of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have occurred under coalition governments. Britain has been force-fed the idea that so-called hung parliaments spell doom for the nation. Indeed, the very word ‘hung’ engenders images of political stagnancy, death and paralysis. Furthermore, as we are repeatedly told that, historically, hung parliaments are a disaster, I would point doubters to the fact that the Second World War was won under a coalition government. Additionally, this country has functioned with a minority or coalition government for 34 of the last 100 years.

A hung Parliament could lead to much more accountability inside the Palace of Westminster

Regardless of an individual’s political bias, in the current political landscape it is the Liberal Democrats who hold the key to unlock the potential of a hung parliament. Nick Clegg requires 75% of his MPs, including all of his major prospective ministers, to be in agreement before he could lead his party into a coalition. He has already stated that he does not want to enter into coalition but, in the event of minority government, Clegg would have to discuss the situation with the party commanding the largest political mandate. Despite present polls, the Conservatives seem the more likely party; moreover, it would be madness for the Liberal Democrats to enter a coalition with a Labour minority government made possible by the unfair ‘first-past-the-post’ voting system which is traditionally abhorred by the Lib Dems. A single-party government elected on ‘first-past-the-post’ grounds is totally unrepresentative of the total vote. Labour presently holds 57% of the seats but only 36.4% of the vote. If a coalition government was sensibly formed upon a sound model of proportional representation, Parliament itself could be made stronger due to the executive’s reliance on the benevolence of the legislature. This would produce a powerful, yet suitably tethered government; free to make sensible reform with neither the legislative nor executive power to bury civil liberties, human rights and, ultimately, common sense under an avalanche of bureaucracy and red tape. In a country famed for its ‘no-nonsense’ attitude, common sense seems to be somewhat lacking in our antiquated governmental system. Already, civil servants

are beavering away to produce guidelines which would effectively strangle all of the attractive possibilities created by a coalition government. In 2010, both the media and the markets move a great deal faster than their 1974 counterparts. The UK is unique in its desire to form a government almost within hours of a confirmed election result. Perhaps, in the lack of a clear majority, the best course of action would be to allow political parties time to negotiate a workable compromise.

“This is a rare chance to break from tradition and embrace the idea of real political change” In a nation fuelled by the relaxation and clarity brought about by a cup of tea, we should perchance avoid the furore following an uncertain election result by encouraging our elected representatives to boil their kettles, sit down and discuss the opportunities presented by coalition calmly and sensibly. I would welcome a few days of debate if it resulted in the formation of a coalition government injected with gumption and impetus, rather than political inertia and inaction until the next election is called. It seems the country, however, would rather ‘hang’ around in anticipation of a snap election, rather than grasp the rare opportunity to break from tradition and embrace the chance for real political change.


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PALATINATE Tuesday 16th March 2010

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Debate Comment

Should students be allowed to cast their vote at university?

In the run-up to the election, students must choose between voting in their home or their university constituency ROGIRO

Thom AddinallBiddulph YES

NO

I

I

should begin this article with that perennial favourite of comment, ‘full disclosure’. I have already voted at university, specifically indeed in Durham. Not in a general election; I didn’t turn eighteen until September 2006, far too late for the last election. However, I did vote in the 2008 election for the unitary authority, in Elvet ward (for the Liberal Democrats, should you be interested). I also fully intend to vote in the City of Durham constituency on 6th May this year, assuming that is when the general election shall be held. I do not believe that I am doing anything wrong by doing this. Firstly, I’m applying for a PhD and will most likely be here for a long time to come anyway, but even if I were, say, graduating in July, I would still vote here. This stems partly from a fundamental problem in our system of government.

“There is a strong argument that, were we merely voting for a local MP, students should not be allowed to vote at university” We do not have separation of powers in the United Kingdom, that is to say a fully separate executive and legislature, as the United States has. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this state of affairs, into which this is not the place to go. The upshot, though, is that you are voting simultaneously, with only one vote, for your local MP and for the national government. There is a strong argument that, were we voting merely for a local MP, students should not be allowed to vote at university (unless, of course, they live in the same constituency as their university), as the vast majority of us are here for only three or four years. But this is not the case: we are voting also for the party we want to form the executive. There are significant issues with this; you might want Labour in power nationally, but detest your local Labour candidate, and have a dedicated, hard-working Conservative MP whom you wish to support. In my case, my home constituency is Finchley and Golders Green, part of which used to be Margaret Thatcher’s seat. It unexpectedly went Labour in 1997, and remained so in 2001 and 2005. However, the incumbent MP is, wisely, standing down and, thanks to boundary changes, the seat is notionally Conservative. I am a committed Liberal Democrat, and it is entirely pointless to vote Lib Dem at home- it’s a straight Tory-Labour fight, which Mike Freer, the extremely unpleasant Conservative, will win. In Durham, though, the Tories stand no hope, whereas the Lib Dems have a real chance of defeating Labour. Even one seat could make a vital difference to the national picture: for my party, every extra seat makes us stronger, especially in the event of a hung Parliament. Though it is a nice idea, the simple fact of the matter is I am not voting just for the candidate I think will represent Durham best, and be the best constituency MP. I am voting for someone who will not only deal with the bin on Gilesgate that has not

Freddie Myles

Many students consider university to be their home - should this impact their voting choices?

apparently been emptied this year, but will also cast a vote on issues of great national importance, up to and including war. I am not defending the system as it is, but it is not about to change, and these are national issues on which I can vote from wherever I am in the country. I would have absolutely no problem with someone born and brought up in Durham, living in student accommodation in Golders Green, and voting for Mike Freer. Arguments against students voting at university also tend to assume students are inherently ignorant and local-wary, and will vote without a care for their university town. That may be true of some of us. But if we were to disallow anyone who does not think properly before voting, we would disenfranchise, I suspect, rather a lot of people, most of whom mean perfectly well. The way we seek to reach those who vote for the BNP is to reveal the hollow, ugly core of the party and the benefits of what they oppose. There is no reason why we could not make a similar effort to make sure students know what local issues are, and to think about them as well as national policy when voting. Besides which, we do actually live here, and many of us know very well what issues the town faces, because after all we are students- we are quite likely to be politicallyaware, and my opponent in this debate will not be the only person to think about the other residents of Durham. Finally, we must also remember that,

considering that we are voting on national issues, we are voting on behalf of students. We may not be students for much longer, but a new class begins every year, for whom we should have some concern.

“I do not mean to suggest that all students must vote at university, but at the very least give us the option”

recently attended a documentary screening, which included footage of Gala Day in 1960’s Durham. Bathed in midsummer sun, mining communities marched through the same streets that I would cross on the way home. Proud families laughed, looked on, collected at the Racecourse Grounds to listen to and cheer Harold Wilson standing up for the workers, standing up for the Durham pits. Now, if we care to look at the sheaves of election literature left unclaimed in student mailboxes, we find candidates campaigning to keep middle-class students’ higher education (H.E) fees down. We find candidates promising to spend more time than ever promoting student politics, promising to make traffic by-law changes around the Union key policies. Who can blame them? This is simply savvy electioneering on the candidates’ parts, with every Durham student automatically added to the local electoral roll. A few hours of photos-ops with the student council might stick in the minds of whichever students remember to drop into the church hall on 6th May. But this isn’t representing the community, nor is it promoting the best interests of the people of this city. Students’ concerns can be better represented by their voting at home; the Durham politicians should be the concern of the Durham residents. Students pass through, usually, for three years, and take little or no part in the functions that matter politically. Students do not pay more than minimal tax in Durham, and do not receive state benefits. Issues of H.E funding have nothing particularly to do with the interests of Durham, and can be as well-voiced from any other corner of the nation. The infrastructure of the city, the public spaces and retail outlets, will not have to be lived with for the rest of the students’ lives. Take the case of the new Tesco, permitted to open on Silver Street over the past summer (this may not strictly be the territory of the MP, but my argument also applies to the council). For passing students, all told here for perhaps eighteen months, this was a convenient slice of metropolitan life amongst what can seem, for students raised in larger cities, a rather lacklustre choice of shops. Let us say, for argument’s sake, that this Tesco was destined to push the other grocers around the town centre out of business. Whose voice should matter more when Tesco applies for its retail license? The sellers of Durham market, whose families have lived in the area for generations and who themselves will keep a stall until retirement? Or students?

There were university constituencies in the past, but there are none these days, so we cannot vote in a ‘student constituency’ per se. If we only vote at home, who is going to vote on behalf of students? In student towns, candidates know they have to appeal to students; if we all voted solely at home, no one would give a second thought to the needs of students (again, in the USA this might be different because of the wider prevalence of local community colleges). Higher education is vital to our society for a host of reasons, not least economically-speaking, and so it is important that we remain as a clear constituency that candidates must pay attention to, as indeed our candidates here in Durham are. I do not mean to suggest all students must vote at university, but at the very least it is right to give us the option. For many Durham is a working class city; the stustudents, voting in your university town dent body in Durham is predominantly will be far more useful than voting at home. middle class.

“Students at Durham should, when matriculating , be given some information about the city they have come to live in”

Surely the MP representing Durham should reflect the values of those who live here their whole lives, rather than support the interests of those whose income support (i.e. Daddy) likely lives outside of the constituency? This relates to a wider problem in Durham; that of the lack of the respect that is shown, often unintentionally, from the students to those who make Durham their permanent home. I recognise that years of work have been put in to lessen the friction of the homecounties invasion, and I understand that much of this effort has been successful. Nevertheless, seeing boys across Market Square in their pyjamas pulling each other’s trousers down for laughs, or girls telling the shopkeeper she has a lovely accent in their most patronising voices possible, is not an edifying sight.

“Students’ concerns can be better represented by their voting at home; the Durham politicians should be the concern of the Durham residents”

Students at Durham should, when matriculating, be given information about the city they have come to live in. They should be informed of its history, the foundations of its peoples, its values. Students can form a major role in a vibrant community; providing fresh voices and views, motoring the economy, keeping the streets full of energy. But they also must remember; we are only visitors here. We do not have as much right to the future of Durham as those who live here, those whose views should be represented in parliament. Yes, of course the university is a huge part of the community, and the economic hold it has in so far as the staff who live here lend it a great importance to the area. The interests of the university rightfully remain significant in any election campaign, via interests of the not-always -fantasticallypaid local staff members who work and run the institution across decades of intakes. But a student’s interests, at any one particular time, do not deserve precedence. This is not to say students do not deserve a voice in the city. My argument is rather that this should come through the conduit of the interests of the enduring power bloc that is the university administration. At the documentary I attended, residents evoked their own memories of past Gala days. They told touching stories of afternoons in the sunshine, on crowded streets, celebrating their city. Then, one voice, “it was a wonderful time, they were our streets then”. An audible groan of agreement ran through the audience. I felt embarrassed, and humbled. The city of Durham deserves an M.P. who can represent its true, permanent interests. If you have not already, I urge you to switch your residence in the electoral register to your home constituency. I have already done so, and look forward to welcoming Durham’s next M.P., who I am sure will treat all visiting students with the hospitality characteristic of Durham’s people.


Tuesday 16th March 2010 PALATINATE

16

Comment Opinion

Share your views with the Palatinate readership at palatinate.org.uk

Why funding bodies should pay us to write about Chaucer A new focus on proving the ‘usefulness’ of academic research, especially in the arts and humanities, is dangerous

T

he crucial flashpoint in the current higher education debate has been academic resistance, especially from the arts and humanities, to changes in the way research funding will be awarded. From 2013, in all subjects, 25% of funding for research will depend on a criterion called ‘impact’. Academics will have to prove, in advance, that their research is going to be of some kind of benefit to the wider community, more or less defined in cash terms. For scientists, this criterion will make ‘blue sky thinking’ hard to justify. But imagine if your area of expertise is Chaucer: you are unlikely to have any hope of winning that 25%, and you will certainly be expected to try. Even if it’s only 25% of any funding grant that’s at stake, you cannot do 75% of a project on Chaucer and 25% on applications of Chaucer to banking. So it seems the whole character of academic practice in the UK is under threat.

“To attempt to disguise academic research as a public service is a terrible compromise” This planned new funding regime is part of the context for the lecture delivered in Durham recently by Prof. Rick Rylance, the Chief Executive of the AHRC (which distributes roughly a 100 million pounds

a year for postgraduate research). His message was one of hard-headed economic austerity, arguing that arts and humanities academics will have to start proactively demonstrating their usefulness if they want to continue to receive government support. Prof. Rylance is forced to walk the line between academic interests and government thinking, but his attitude is troubling. It is very easy to see that traditional academic evaluations of research are not related to economic values. They are delivered unto us by the history of our subjects, and their ultimate source is the pursuit of truth. The $64,000 question is to what degree the pursuit of truth should be supported by the state - yet to attempt to disguise academic research as a public service is a terrible compromise. Part of the argument against the way things are going is that arts and humanities do have economic benefits, but that these benefits depend upon economic excellence as traditionally conceived. Rylance told us, for instance, that two billion pounds per year can be traced to foreign students who come to Britain to study - they come because British universities are among the best in the world. What we need, above all, is perspective. There might or might not be some distant economic benefits in maintaining Chaucer experts, but we certainly cannot prove that there will be in any given case. The solution is to request that the government should indulge academic research for its own sake, but to accept a reduction in the level of that indulgence in the medium-term, so that indulgence as a principle will be sustainable through our budget troubles. Of course, where businesses or organisations are able and willing to act as patrons for ‘useful’ research, they will continue to do so. Although I broadly disagreed with his

GETTY

Chris Wright

Peter Mandelson has ploughed controversially through higher education funding, leaving the arts especially in jeopardy

approach, one aspect of Prof. Rylance’s message was pertinent. He ended his talk with a puzzle. Why is it that arts and humanities academics are so pessimistic? Why not be a bit more civic-minded and address political subjects more constructively? The answer, I think, is a mistaken moral qualm about contributing to the analytical processes involved in making policy. If you survey the intellectual history of the last century, you will find brilliant socialists of many kinds, not to mentions a fair number of anarchists and fascists. Contemporary political coordinates are firmly liberal and capitalist, and it seems that today’s brilliant thinkers often prefer to wash their hands of the whole business. Meanwhile, policy makers in liberal democracies have to take

extremely complex decisions, and the discourse on which their thinking rests is that of politicians, civil servants, ‘think tank’ re-

“Why is it that arts and humanities academics are so pessimistic?” searchers, journalists and propagandists for private interest. The individuals with the best chance of understanding the world are academics, but they play a subservient role. To opt out of policy thinking is to leave the decisions to a class of people who have excelled in obtaining power and influence,

but not necessarily in the pursuit of truth. It’s not clear that there’s any moral or humane basis for leaving national policy to such people. The really terrifying reality is not that they are a sinister capitalist conspiracy: it’s that they do not know what they are doing. Academia is the only institution with the intellectual resources to fill the vacuum. This role should not be tied to funding for research, but it should form part of the unwritten contract between academia and the nation, the basis on which funding is made available for pure curiosity. This, ultimately, is the lesson of the spats between Mandelson and academia. It is possible to disentangle yourself from the public sphere, but the public sphere will not return the favour.

Award ceremonies: no country for discriminating men

There are far better things to be spending time and money on than the decadent love-in of the BAFTAs and Oscars

Award ceremonies bemuse me. Not the most profound bemusement, I admit, in this time of worrying political bowel movements or world famine, but a bemusement nonetheless. Let me explain. Some years ago I happened to be in London on the evening of the 2003 Baftas. I’d been granted an afternoon of freedom from boarding school, and stumbled out into the starry mainland of our beloved capital. And there was the red carpet, the panicky organizers scampering about importantly and an impressive collection of radioed and ear-pieced bouncers perfecting a look that could only be catalogued as ‘moody stare’. Much to my disappointment, I couldn’t wait the three hours until the thing was due to begin. But the taste was enough. It was power, glamour: the crowds patiently serried in against the security railings, trying to nail that high C on the second movement of their symphony of whoops and wails. All waiting for the immortals to descend from their Olympian heights. Enchanting. It had all the finery and glitz one could ever want from London. The cool southerly breeze bristled with a very British gentility. It was a night that demanded tuxedos and dresses more expensive than most thirdworld defence budgets. It promised style.

DAVIDLOHR BUESO

Matthew Richardson

In fact, the flashy persiflage of the red carpet as a whole is wonderful. It’s the apogee, the apex, the Parnassian peak. But…and I fear it’s a rather big but. Of almost Susan Boyle-like proportions. The fun plunges into disaster when the ceremony begins. The mood fribbles and leaks away. All the end-of-term excitement is replaced by the tedium of a last assembly where even the Head of Physics seems determined to deliver a Marlovian soliloquy. Baftas 2010 was no exception. Poor Jonathan Ross looked like he was trying to do breaststroke in a pool full of yoghurt. Out he flopped, bouncing around with his usual tiggerish enthusiasm only to be met by a roomful of marble-faced lip-zippers. And Vanessa Redgrave! Her speech was almost Ciceronian in its labyrinths and curls. Few word-users other than Shakespeare can claim to be for all time, but that night Redgrave’s pleonasm nearly got her there.

“Award ceremonies are only any fun if you are receiving a prize”

Are the Oscars worth the fuss made of them?

And here is where my burgeoning bemusement was conceived. The product of a rather unfortunate encounter between a free Saturday night and a broken remote. Put simply: I cannot understand the point of televising award ceremonies. Not the Baftas, Brits, NME awards, British soap

awards, National Television, South Bank Show or Spectator gong-givings. Nor, blasphemous though it may be, even the sybaritic, Sandra-Bullock-speeching Oscars. The school simile seems appropriate. Because award ceremonies are exactly like the worst kind of school prize-giving. Ties for sport, cups for academic achievement, all manner of badges, bouquets and banquets for effort and tryingyour-best. Something like a graduation ceremony, one imagines. And anyone who has endured, screamed and snored through any of the above knows that they are only fun if you are receiving a prize. Nothing is better, in fact. The only prize I’ve ever received was at the age of eleven. For effort. Few moments since can surpass the heady ecstasy of tearing open the exclusive, for-my-eyes-only letter informing me of the school’s decision; the cloying mock humility about how touching it was just to have some recognition after those long, dark years of being neglected by the staff room; and then that bright, golden Wednesday afternoon when all my friends headed off for PE while I and a select group of other effortful and earnest pupils were bussed to the local book shop and allowed to choose our prizes. Magical. As was the day itself. I’ve rarely been cleaner, so scrubbed and flannelled by my parents who were determined I outgleamed all others on the assembly stage. My hair was combed, my shoes shined. There was the rather tricky socks-down versus socks-up dilemma (we were still forced

to wear shorts at this stage) and the unnervingly intricate choreography – walk up, smile, right hand out, on no account let it be the left hand, shake hands, chat, walk off.

“The equivalent of an end-of-term assembly is not the stuff of bracing public broadcasting” When the time arrived we ‘prize winners’ were marshalled through to the reserved front row. I gave a cursory wave to the rest of my class who were sectioned off at the back of the hall, and then ran through a few versions of the oh-not-another-prize look. And the whole thing was perfect. For me. However, I imagine it sent most others – the unworthy non-winners – into therapy. And the same, I fear, is true of award ceremonies. The only person who enjoys the Bafta for Best Editing or Oscar for Best Live Action Short is the winner, and perhaps their partner or parents. I’m not much of a Reithian, but surely sitting through the cinematic equivalent of an end-of-term assembly is not the stuff of licence fees and bracing public broadcasting. We should demand more from TV. And not be content with such dross just because it has a few early-evening hopes that the rest of the night doubtlessly fails to deliver.


17

PALATINATE Tuesday 16thMarch 2010

Browse our archived opinion pieces at palatinate.org.uk

Opinion Comment

Overpopulation: the unspoken secret of global warming Will Greenwood

C

limate change has become a subject of predilection for many journalists, but some aspects of it are very rarely covered by the media. It seems to many, that globalisation and long-distance trade go against all green logic. Yet, as few people are aware, buying tulips from Kenya is less harmful for the environment than buying the same flowers from Holland, for the very simple reason that heating a greenhouse for weeks in the Netherlands releases more carbon dioxide than a single flight from Nairobi to Europe. Similarly, Toyota’s Prius and other hybrid vehicles pollute more than most other vehicles on the longterm (when taking into account the impact of batteries’ manufacture and recycling). The real issue with climate change, its number one cause, is very rarely debated. Global warming has been caused by, and will forever be exacerbated by, population growth. Geological evidence suggests that we should be currently living an ice age, had humans not started releasing huge quantities of methane by farming in the Fertile Crescent five to seven thousand years ago. Imagine the impact of agriculture given our present population! The consequences of population growth go much further than farming. Having several children simply multiplies one’s carbon footprint. A higher world population adds pressure on resources, food and energy but also on land. As Danish analysts have already realised, it is impossible to feed the whole country on bio production since it needs much larger surface areas and its output (because

it is less intensive) is significantly lower. As more people populate the earth, pressure on water also increases, and observers predict the emergence of wars for the control of water, similar to wars for oil. But some areas might suffer water shortages without conflict. California is thus facing a serious challenge as the water levels of the Colorado River are desperately diminishing, because of the irrigation of millions of acres without sufficient input from mountain snow. If it is no secret that humans are overwhelmingly responsible for climate change, what is much less publicised is that its consequences will affect humanity much more than nature. The predicted human toll linked to rising sea levels, natural disasters and droughts, is alarmingly high. Millions will suffer from famine, flooding, hurricanes, landslides, wildfires, heat waves and disease outbreaks. Until rather recently, climate change has often been seen as some vague concept that does not really matter. It only seemed to affect glaciers, polar bears and some distant disappearing islands. This has been an unfortunate diversion.

“Global warming has been caused by population growth” Telling us that some animal species will disappear because of global warming has been counterproductive because people get use to the idea and soon forget about it, when they do not simply go and buy a fur coat. Similarly, rainforests are often heralded as the earth’s lungs. Yet some scientists consider that most of the planet’s oxygen is produced by plankton, in a process gravely endangered by the increasing

LUCY BOWES

We are fighting the effects of overpopulation on the environment, rather than seeking a real solution to the cause

Exponential population growth cannot be sustained.; overpopulation will result in conflict for those battling for control of global resources

acidity of oceans (because of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere). The emphasis on deforestation as a major cause of global warming tends to shift the blame on illegal lumbering in developing countries (for our garden furniture), away from the seriously polluting (but profitable) activities of industrialised nations. All this is interesting but what can you do to tackle global warming? Of course you should switch of the light when you leave a room, and turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, but it goes much further than that. Use your car in the most efficient way and favour public transports. Improve the insulation of your house when you leave uni (this is a very profitable investment too). Be a responsible consumer who does not buy strawberries in March and reduce your red meat consumption,

given that raising cattle uses grain and therefore huge quantities of water and, on top of that, cows release methane, a greenhouse gas twenty times as harmful as CO2. Our governments, on their part, should support congestion charge initiatives, invest into renewable energies research and integrate green concerns into development aid.

“A profound reappraisal of our consumption culture is necessary”

But these measures will have a very limited impact, no matter how motivated you are. The real decision that has to be taken is the implementation of large-scale birth control in countries with a rocketing popu-

lation (many European nations have declining populations and the age pyramid is worryingly unfavourable: there is the need for higher birth-rates or immigration). Secondly, a profound reappraisal of our consumption culture is necessary. We can, and should, increase recycling, but this uses energy and fails to address the root of the problem. We should question our culture of profit and constant economic growth, which unavoidably leads to intolerable levels of waste. We have to stop buying large quantities of poor quality cheap items. Instead we should buy fewer, more expensive, but also more durable items. To tackle the waste of resources and energy, we will have to blend economic and ecological concerns and unless we soon act decisively, humanity will slowly destroy itself and nature will then regenerate, as it has always done.

The Nigerien coup will not help its poverty-stricken people

The latest military coup is yet another sign of political instability in Africa being ignored by the apathetic West SIGMA DELTA

James Funnell

It would not have taken much to miss the media coverage of Niger’s latest military coup d’état. It did not help that the former French colony failed to tick any boxes of originality, with its events unfolding in the classic style that has been witnessed time and again across post-colonial Africa. Yet it seems that the real origins of this inattention lie with an ever increasing, and ever concerning neglect of African affairs. More than ever before, Africa is in danger of gradually sliding off the world map. Africa’s share of world output is ever declining due to the expansion of the newly industrialised East Asian countries. The end of the Cold War has given rise to a severe de-prioritisation of Africa, with world players no longer content to jostle for strategic ideological outposts on the continent. Although the military junta has explicitly expressed its purpose of restoring ‘democracy and good governance’, the weight of history is truly stacked against them. Even if Niger does manage to defy the odds and successfully implement democracy through its transitional Supreme Council, the question of the military will undoubtedly cast a shadow over future proceedings, with fear of a future repetition likely to remain ingrained in the minds

Despite its natural beauty, Niger’s poverty is unlikely to be ameliorated by the military coup

of any newly-elected politicians. Certainly none of them will be cutting the government defence expenditure or thinking about ending conscription any time soon. The Nigerien case is, in many ways, mirrored across the continent, where the military has incessantly haunted post-colonial African governments since the first days of independence. Its extraordinary impact is demonstrated through a recent comparative study, which calculates the long-term political ramifications of the African military. Remarkably, statistics for the presentday levels of governance and stability of African states have been found to be directly and negatively correlated to the existence of a military on independence. Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Swaziland, and the Gam-

bia, are all on average far better off today than countries such as Niger, Kenya, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In light of the persistently negative terminology of corruption, greed, and vice that is typically thrown around in the West to describe African regimes, there is a great risk of forgetting the true nature of African independence. Although the shackles of colonialism were finally broken in August 1960, Nigerien leaders were faced with an immeasurable and somewhat impossible task on independence. They inherited a minimalist colonial state to which any sustained democratic and inclusive political culture was completely alien. Their economies were completely reliant on the continued demand for a nar-

row range of export commodities. Their people lacked adequate education and healthcare. Their country lacked infrastructure and suffered from harsh climatic conditions. The list naturally goes on. The vision of following in the footsteps of their former colonial masters pervaded Africa on independence, with Western schooled African leaders intent on implementing their own industrial revolution. Ambitious programmes of import substitution industrialisation were launched through a common African and Western consensus, but simply could not be supported by the underdeveloped state of African agriculture and the weak capabilities of the inherited state. Almost universal financial collapse after the world economic crises of the 1970s was, therefore, in many ways the logical end product of the fragile economic growth that greeted African decolonisation. Although only those on the conspiratorial left would assign the blame to neo-colonialism, it is equally clear that the West could be doing a lot more to help the landlocked West African country. France, the former colonial landlord, continues to retain effective control over its rich uranium resources, as well providing the lion’s share of its military funding. The externalisation of economic management under the IMF has forced through a harsh programme of privatisation, state cutbacks, and trade liberalisation, which threaten the poorest in society. They also have the potential to aggravate humani-

tarian emergencies, such as the notoriously catastrophic famine of five years ago. For the vast majority of African countries, sustained economic development continues to be a distant goal on the horizon. When all is said and done, the longterm impact of ploughing international aid into the continent will be marginal, and do little to push Niger along the path of political stability and sustainable development. After all, the effects of development aid are widely proven to be dependent on the governmental policy of the recipient.

“Africa’s share of the world output is ever declining due to the expansion of the newly industrialised East Asian countries” What is really needed is all that Western government’s are currently unprepared to concede: multilateral debt cancellation, trade justice, and less external economic meddling. It is only through these changes that Niger and its African neighbours stand a realistic chance of breaking the vicious circle of political instability and economic decline that has plagued the continent since independence.


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19

PALATINATE Tuesday 16th March 2010

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Sport

Collingwood suffer scorching defeat to Van Mildert On an unseasonably warm afternoon, with firm conditions underfoot, both sides were presented with an ideal opportunity to build phases and play with fluency. With an electric all-round performance, Van Mildert’s openside flanker Phil Mundy led a spirited victory over Collingwood. Scoring a hat trick, Mundy was a thorn in the side of Collingwood throughout. His dynamic opportunism in attack set a sturdy platform for fly-half Chris Grant to play some great rugby.

“With an electric allround performance, Phil Mundy led the way against Collingwood” Grant delivered three drop goals in an assured all-round display to delay Collingwood’s title celebrations. Despite a nervy start from both sides, strewn with handling errors, it was Collingwood that opened the scoring with a moment of sheer quality. Van Mildert made their task even more difficult. After outside-centre Paddy O’Driscoll was sent to the sin-bin for a brainless late challenge on Charlie Sindrey, Collingwood began to assert themselves. Strong running around the fringes from the forwards began to take its toll. Although Van Mildert defended bravely, the numerical advantage eventually forced infringements. Presented with two straightforward penalty opportunities, Magee stretched the lead to thirteen points with half an hour gone. Van Mildert switched their attentions from desperate resistance to clawing their way back into the match.

A clever kick by Ollie Hammond, a constant threat from scrum half, wrested a territorial advantage and from the resulting line-out, Mundy opened his account to cut the gap to eight. After an efficient catch and drive, Mundy needed no second invitation to peel away, bringing his side to within three points. There was still time for more before the interval, and when the openside took advantage of some very average tackling to collect his third score, Van Mildert had snatched an unlikely lead as the referee blew for half-time. Unfortunately for Collingwood, even a verbal thrashing from their coach could not break them out of a Mundy-induced shell shock and, five minutes after the restart, Van Mildert captain Mike Hazelton bypassed the flimsy guard defence to secure an unlikely bonus point for his side. From this point, Grant took over admirably and directed proceedings with aplomb. Cleverly maintaining territorial pressure with a sensible kicking game, he ensured that his opponents had to endure a barren second period whilst keeping the scoreboard ticking over consistently.

DELANEY CHAMBERS

Charlie Morgan

“I am really, really excited about the role. I want to get everyone proud of sport again”

Collingwood couldn’t make their numeric advantage count against a solid Van Mildert side

Bailey v Hill matches decided by penalty shoot-out drama ANDY RUDLIN

Back row: James Webb, Ben Warwick, David Thomas, Graham Lovell, Ben Walker, Joe Collingwood, Si Higgins, Craig Warren Front row: Tom Vose, George Toms, Andy Rudlin, Charlie Smith, Rob Gopinath, Alex White Keeper: Chris Pye

Back row: Alec Houston, Will Brooke, Oliver Pell, Richard Wood, Martin Plowden, Harry Cox, Will Hanson, Will Bruce, James Caffyn Front row: Charlie Chalkly-Maber, Rupert Bright, Doug Simon, Jack Oakshatt (c), Charlie Homewood, Simeon Bridgewater, Calum Brazier. Keeper: Ollie O’Donnell

Hugh Anderson-Elliott

own D. The sixth corner brought an equaliser, the initial shot hitting the post and Hild Bede’s Milly Bacon ending the subsequent confusion emphatically from close range. A penalty shoot-out was called and after both teams scored at their first attempts, it was Bailey and Hatfield keeper Katie Ford who was the heroine, saving three Hill flicks in a row to clinch victory. The Men’s match started at a swift pace and it was the Bailey who took the lead early on with a sharp flick from Hild Bede’s James Caffyn. However, a fast break down the left saw Alex White equalise for the Hill, and they were in front soon when White’s goal-bound shot was cheekily claimed on the line by George Toms.

The Men’s and Women’s Bailey hockey teams managed to repeat last year’s double over their Hill counterparts, but both the required penalty shoot-outs to claim victory. First up were the women, and it was the Hill side who started with style and the determination that the occasion merited. Strong tackling in the centre of the pitch resulted in Hill and Collingwood striker Hannah Sissons running through the heart of the Bailey defence before finishing confidently past the keeper. The restart appeared to be the closest the Bailey were going to get to the Hill goal as

their dominance continued, and a succession of short corners followed with Hobbs of St Aidan’s looking dangerous from the top of the D every time. Two good saves from keeper Katie Ford, a lucky deflection over and a generously disallowed goal from the referee kept the Bailey side in the contest. The second half saw the reinvigorated Bailey women get stuck in, and the game became scrappy, depriving the Hill midfield of the time or space to orchestrate proceedings in anything close to their peerless first half performance. It was instead the Bailey who won a remarkable succession of short corners, refusing to allow the Hill defence out of their

Delaney Chambers

Last Friday saw Hild Bede’s Kat Henderson beat off stiff competition to be elected as Althetics Union (AU) President for next year. “I’m feeling really, really excited about the role”, she said, upon discovering she had won. Team Durham elections were not publicised thoroughly, and campaigning was limited to verbal communication, with every form of Facebook campaigning and literature disallowed. She found this difficult, but attempted to speak to as many people as possible. Henderson said about the run-up to the election: “because it wasn’t very well publicised, it was just kind of getting the word around”. She made an effort to go to colleges and sports training sessions to cover as much ground as possible. It was a very contested race, with four qualified students running for the position. Kat was not confident of the outcome of her run for the job when entering the race. “I wasn’t confident at all going into the election”, she said. The main threat to her hopes came in the form of Benji Dawes, president of Durham University Boat Club and a fellow Hild Bede finalist. “Obviously Benji is a Hild Bede student as well, and I was really worried about him. “I think Benji was my main competition”, she said. Dawes finished second after Henderson.

“Even a verbal thrashing from their coach could not break them out of their shell shock” Amidst all of this, even the yellow card shown to Van Mildert prop David Evershed could not loosen his side’s grip on the match. Collingwood will have been extremely disappointed with the manner of this defeat, especially due to the fact that they played a quarter of the game against fourteen men.

Kat Henderson appointed new AU president

But once again the lead did not last as Calum Brazier brought the Bailey level, and they took a deserved lead ten minutes later when Charlie Chalky-Maber of St John’s finished off a smoothly worked break with a precise swivelling shot into the far corner. It was a night when no team was destined to win outright, and soon after some lacklustre Bailey tackling allowed Hill a two on one, which Aidanite Alex White duly converted for his second of the match. The spectators were again rewarded for their attendance with a penalty shoot-out. Five penalty takers held their nerve before Hatfielder Ollie O’Donnell pulled off a magnificent diving save to give the Bailey their second win of the night.

Henderson’s enthusiasm for the role enabled her to succeed through extensive campaigning, and she intended to take advantage of the opportunity to represent Durham. With her experience as a treasurer and working for PricewaterhouseCoopers, Henderson took a financial outlook on her future as AU president. About her plans, Henderson said: “I think it’s important to bring the National Governing Body on board”. Henderson is enthusiastic about helping every club get the vital access to the support they need from Team Durham. “Especially for the smaller clubs who don’t really have support, it’s important to get the message out”. Katie Sykes, the current AU president, succeeded in regenerating enthusiasm for sport in Durham, especially at the college level. Henderson plans to continue down this path. “I want to continue the success that Katie has had with college sport because she’s been really good at that this year”. Henderson has a vision of how her role is going to be as sabbatical president. “I see myself having a good relationship with all the clubs”. Henderson plans to establish a connection with as many levels of Durham sport as possible. “I think it’s important to have an opendoor policy, so I plan on seeing how the clubs are getting on and giving as much support as possible”. Henderson is proud to represent Team Durham, and plans to inspire “a buzz about sport again”.

If you fancy having a go at sports writing, email us now at sport@palatinate.org.uk to get more details.


Tuesday 16th March PALATINATE

20

Sport Back page

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Sport

JONATHAN ALLEN

Inside: First edition of The Locker Room, Bailey triumph over Hill in Hockey, new AU President and college rugby Teams unite to pay tribute to deceased student DUBC bring in 130 BUCS Durham AFC and University College AFC triumph in competitive Jordan Harker Memorial Match points at Head Ed Sidgwick

Rob Pettican put in a superb individual performance as a combined University and Castle side beat Linthorpe 4-1. The match’s competitive manner would have made Harker proud

Joel Butler

All three of Jordon Harker’s former clubs combined to pay tribute to the Castleman who tragically passed away last term. Durham University Men’s Football Club and Castle College AFC combined to record a 4-1 victory over Linthorpe FC on an emotional and bitterly cold night at Maiden Castle last Wednesday. Team Durham played the first half of this commemorative friendly match against Middlesbrough side Linthorpe FC, enjoying the upper hand in the early exchanges. Durham were unlucky not to score in the first few minutes after creating several chances. The first half quickly settled into a rhythm, with Durham dominating possession and Linthorpe counter-attacking when they could. The home side looked threatening down the wings, and Jordan Williams kept constant pressure on the defence. Durham had a shot tipped over the bar after good play from Ash Vasey. Durham took the lead in the fifteenth minute as Rob Pettican’s hard work on the left wing resulted in an own goal from Linthorpe defender Steven Brown, who turned a low cross into his own net under

pressure from Williams. Durham continued to dominate proceedings and could have been further in front had it not been for some dogged defending and profligacy in front of goal. Pettican was at the heart of Durham’s attacking threat and shone on the left, while Durham’s front six ran the Linthorpe defence ragged. Linthorpe did gain a foothold in the game as the half progressed, with the impressive James Harland nearly catching the Palatinates on the break on a couple of occasions, but they found clear chances hard to come by. Durham remained on top, but the home side still lacked the cutting edge to double their lead, despite some promising play. A second goal eventually came for Durham on the stroke of half time: another left wing cross was converted after clever attacking play out wide from Rob Pettican and Martin Jones. Durham captain Martin Jones was clearly pleased with the tribute his team had paid to Jordan in the first half. He said: “there was a lot of emotion in the game. As a club we wanted do a good job on his behalf. “It was a difficult game motivation-wise as we didn’t know what attitude to take into

the game, but we’ve done Jordan proud, and obviously we’re pleased”. The second half saw Jordan Harker’s college team take to the field, following entertainment from Grey college cheerleaders during the interval.

“There was a lot of emotion in the game... we wanted to do a good job on his behalf”

The second half was a more evenlymatched affair, and end-to-end football ensued. Castle were clearly frustrating their opponents, as Linthorpe striker Nathan Summersgill was the first player to receive a warning from the referee and the visitors were guilty of a string of niggling fouls. Just as Linthorpe appeared to be gaining some control of the game, Castle scored the third goal of the evening. A long-range drive had evaded everybody in the box to find the bottom right hand corner of the goal. A 68th minute left-wing cross was converted from close range after a mistake from Linthorpe goalie Matty Lickard, who was

having a torrid evening. Linthorpe didn’t let their heads drop and continued to attempt to break down their opposition, but Castle were content to sit back and contain their opponents for the remainder of the game, and defended well. Madhu Krishnan in particular went about his defensive duties excellently. Linthorpe scored a late consolation through Summersgill, who was the only bright spark in an attacking line that had failed to seriously threaten the Castle goal. The University College AFC captain helped to explain the meaning of the game to all involved, saying: “Jordan was obviously massively popular around college. “Tonight is an opportunity for the college and the University to do something he had a massive passion for. “Out of a tragic event there’s potential to do something positive and light-hearted to honour his memory”. Castle certainly did their best to stick to that, offering a cameo appearance to ‘Burgekamp’, who put in a stunning, if comical, performance at right back in the dying minutes of the game. It was clear throughout the game that the performance and attitude of the players, as well as the result, served as a fitting tribute to Jordan.

British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) Head, which took place over the weekend of the 20th-21st February in Peterborough, is annually a major focus for every university boat club. The Durham athletes put in some great performances, garnering a total of 130 BUCS points out of a maximum of 160. Conditions were well suited to the Durham athletes, with snow covering the ground and temperatures rarely rising above zero. Saturday saw the Freshers’ squad competition, where the Men’s coxed four put in a stellar performance, securing second place. After a solid race and officiating that raised questions, the Men’s eight were surprised to find that they hadn’t made the medal rostrum. The Durham Women’s eight and coxed four also put in solid performances, but did not come away with medals. On Sunday, the senior squads were given the opportunity to show their strength. The Women’s squad, who have been dominant in past events, put in another impressive performance. The first eight won the championship category with a comfortable margin of more than 30 seconds ahead of second place. The Women’s quad and second eight also triumphed in their categories. The Men’s squad faced some very tough competition from rivals Oxford Brookes and Imperial College. Particularly notable performances included the Men’s coxless four, who prevailed over local rivals Newcastle to win gold.

“DUBC have assisted Durham in climbing in the BUCS rankings, but have much to do before Head of the River”

The Men’s quad and the lightweight quad also performed well, placing second and third in their respective categories. The Men’s top eight came in second behind Brookes, and will have to ensure that they up their game in order to be victorious in the upcoming Head of the River Race on the Thames. With the addition of this impressive tally of points, DUBC have assisted Durham in climbing in the overall BUCS rankings, adding 130 points in one weekend. The boat club has much to build on coming out of this event, and is looking forward to the Head of the River Race, which sees Palatinate crews pitted against some of the best student and senior crews in Europe.


Palatinate Issue 717  

Palatinate Issue 717

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