Page 1

Durham’s independent student newspaper

Palatinate www.palatinate.org.uk

3

No. 759

Thursday 13th February 2014

| FREE

News: Exam paper error statistics revealed

SciTech: Durachieves 10 ham Juno Award Students took to the Science Site and Elvet Riverside to protest the proposed auction of student debt, page 5

Photograph: DUSAA

College bars fail Police checks 14

19

Comment: Confronting the ‘uni lad’ stereotype

Sport: Success for Durham at Open Karate Championships

Palatinate investigates the cause of the tightened ID policy that has taken effect in college and student bars in Durham Ben Williams On Wednesday 8th January, seven college bars failed an identification check ran by the police, causing a university-wide review of identification policy. The investigation targeted eight student bars, seven of which failed to check the age of two seventeen-year-old girls who were not carrying identification or university campus cards. Following the investigation, college bursars attended a meeting with the police to discuss identification policy and drinking games on college premises. The University Bar Managers Committee has announced that “further to a review of the entry

policy and age verification policy which govern the College Bars, purchases will now require the presentation of both a valid University campus card and proof of age (passport, driving licence, etc.) for each transaction at all College Bars. “The reason for this strengthening in policy is to ensure the continued compliance with the licensing conditions set out in our licences.” So far, several student bars, including the bars at St Cuthbert’s Society, Collingwood College, Van Mildert College and Durham Union Society have contacted their members regarding changes to identification policy. The most significant first time punishment could be as much as a £5,000 fine for the staff member

serving, with the possibility of college bars losing their licenses should this continue.

“as a result of the police operation, the College Bar Managers and Bursars were invited to meet with the police to discuss ... options of working together to ensure future compliance”

Graham Towl As part of the meeting, the police also discussed drinking games in college bars,

encouraging colleges to ban such games, although a final decision with regard to policy has not yet been made. Following the announcement, university spokesman, Professor Graham Towl, Pro-ViceChancellor and Deputy Warden , told Palatinate that: “As a result of the police operation, the College Bar Managers and Bursars were invited to meet with the police to discuss the findings and to discuss options of working together to ensure future compliance. “All the bars must adhere to an entry policy and age verification policy along with procedures on dealing with students who are aged under 18 and those who visit the University for open days.” Continued on page 6


2

Editorial

www.palatinate.org.uk

Oversight and influence: every voice counts The issue of oversight has been a recurring theme in the news recently. Indeed, even for those who might have a lack of interest in wider affairs, and would much prefer just to relax at their college bar after a long day at the Bill Bryson Library, have been directly effected by recent events. New, tightened policy has been introduced into all college bars following a police sting operation. The operation, discussed in detail in this edition, shows the ease with which underage individuals might be able to gain access to alcohol. Whether such illegal behaviour is endemic is not clear, and many have questioned the need for the operation. Oversight is beginning to come to fruition in other ways as well. In the last edition we saw Palatinate’s headline highlight the Vice-Chancellor’s decision to accept another rise in both his pay and overall benefits, particularly poignant in the context of a strike and effective pay reductions of staff.

At the start of this week, we saw this question addressed by the Business Secretary and the Universities Minister who expressed deep concern about the “substantial upward drift” and urged university leaders to exercise “much greater restraint”. Whether any decisive or tangible governmental action will address this remains to be seen. We have seen further student action in the form of protests against the privatisation of student loans, with an open letter from a number of students asking the ViceChancellor to support their cause (published in this edition, below). Palatinate plays an important role in Durham in reporting on events and holding individuals and institutions to account. Equally, it provides a means to promote discourse (even in the form of a comment from the University about the ‘Great Potato Debate’). Strong government in this country ultimately boils down to what you do and say. The people who

speak out and try to change the world do. If you speak out, you too will influence and change the way that we think about things. In staying quiet, you are doing your views a disservice. Every voice counts. Palatinate, as a media outlet, seeks to provide oversight to Durham even perhaps national and international debates. This edition covers a wide variety of debates, news and features. If you disagree with anything written in Palatinate, send us an e-mail. We operate at our best when there is a proper discourse between views and situation. Who knows, you just might change someone’s mind. Ben Hamer

We are writing to demand that you support students and publicly oppose the government’s plans to sell off our student loans to private companies. During his autumn statement to Parliament, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that the government intends to sell off student debt to the private sector, a process which will commence this year. We are extremely concerned that this will lead to an increase in the financial burdens placed on students and graduates. There is a high chance that after the sale the interest rates will be increased. A secret report for the government has confirmed this is the case. Even the Tory Minister for Universities, David Willetts, has made clear to a Parliament select committee last June, it is very easy for the rate of interest to be hiked up: “In the letter that every student gets there are some words to the effect that governments reserve the right to change the terms of the loans.” If the privatization of student loans takes place it is likely that we will pay more each month and we’ll be paying back our debts for longer. In effect, this represents a retrospective hike of tuition fees. Privatisation is about private companies making a profit. National Rail, the Energy sector, Royal Mail and Water companies are

Yours sincerely,

William Pinkney-Baird, Hannah Wade, Thomas Kaye, Giacomo Paoloni, Tom Barker, James Poole, Lucy Sabin, Vlad Novak, Sofia Dimoudi, Jelle Bruinsma, James Poole, Camilla O’Brien, Georgia Ford, Ismay Milford, Robert Bailey, Jamie Penston Raja, Samuel John, Maria Kjersem, Julia Lagoutte, Dan Waghorn, Annabel Walley Page five covers the �������������� Durham Univer� sity Students Against Austerity protest

News pages 3-7 Careers page 8-9

SciTech page 10-11

Business & Economics page 12

Politics page 13

Comment pages 14-16 Sport pages 17-20

indigo

Editorial page 2 Features pages 3

Music page 4-5

Visual Arts page 6 Books pages 7 Fashion page 8-9

Food & Drink pages 11

University response Durham students ask the Vice-Chancellor to to the ‘Great Potato support them in opposing loan privitisation Debate’ all examples of why privatisation is not in the best interest of the public. When university accommodation was privatised the rents rocketed and are still rising. Privatisation is terrible for all of us: we all lose out, while billionaires and massive corporations profit. As students we are demanding that you, the Vice-Chancellor, stand for all students and graduates by issuing a public statement on the university website outlining your opposition to the government’s plans. We believe you have a duty to support students and speak out against this unfair measure which will see students and graduates from this university facing even higher levels of student debt, for the benefit of private companies. We hope we can count on your support and look forward to your response on this urgent matter.

Inside 757

Film & TV page 10

Letters to the editor Dear Vice-Chancellor Chris Higgins,

Thursday 13th February 2014 | PALATINATE

For a number of editions of Palatinate a debate has raged over college catering and food provided by the University. Palatinate got in contact with the University to see what they had to say about the is� sue. Shona Millar, Director of Catering said: “Our Colleges offer a range of menu choices at breakfast, lunch and dinner. To help students to make the right decisions about what to eat, we have had our menus analysed using the commonly recognised ‘traffic light system’. “This work has been carried out at the University’s Wolfson Institute of Health and Wellbeing, but since the law is about to change in relation to allergy information, we are now exploring a computerised system to assess the nutritional value of our main menu items. “A number of Colleges have student food committees and they provide feedback to the College head chef on a regular basis. In writing the menus, our professionally qualified Chefs draw on their nutritional knowledge and take into consideration: food provenance, key food groups, comments and feedback from students and special dietary requirements.” Note: There is fresh fruit and a salad bar available at every meal. At lunch time either a noodle or pasta dish is offered and every evening there are two vegetarian options and a choice of either meat or fish.

Stage pages 12-13 Travel page 14-15

Vacancies News Features Editor News Features is an exciting section that conducts in-depth investigations that expose the issues around Durham that are most relevant and interesting to our readers.

Deputy Web Editor

Our online team has recently redesigned the website, and we are looking to develop it further. If you have experience in HTML and PHP, we’d love to hear from you.

Letters to the editor

Want to see your name in print on the editorial page? We’d love to hear your opinion on our stories. If you have praise for Palatinate or a bone to pick with us, email editor@palatinate.org.uk. Your letter could appear on this page in our next print edition.

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 University. 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 Editors-in-Chief Ben Hamer & Victoria Ferguson editor@palatinate.org.uk Deputy Editor Charlotte Bransgrove deputy.editor@palatinate.org.uk News Editor Justin Villamil news@palatinate.org.uk News Features Editor news.features@palatinate.org.uk Deputy News Editors Gabriel Samuels, Amal Vaidya, Benjamin Williams and James Poole Politics Editor Marcus Natale politics@palatinate.org.uk Business and Economics Editor Richard Morgan business@palatinate.org.uk Careers Editor Chloe Kopala careers@palatinate.org.uk Science and Technology Editor Sadie Bartholomew scitech@palatinate.org.uk Comment Editor Ellie de la Bedoyere comment@palatinate.org.uk Sport Editors Emily Beech & Madeleine Sears sport@palatinate.org.uk Deputy Sport Editors Thomas Dimaio, Lawrence Holmes, & Dominic Thurlow-Wood Indigo Editor Cressida Peever indigo@palatinate.org.uk Features Editor Francesca Jaworska feature@palatinate.org.uk Deputy Features Editor deputy.feature@palatinate.org.uk Food and Drink Editor Diana Grant-Davie food@palatinate.org.uk Travel Editor Philip Whitehead travel@palatinate.org.uk Fashion Editor Isobel Buckingham & Katie Shuff fashion@palatinate.org.uk Film and Television Editor Aalok Vora film@palatinate.org.uk Stage Editor Emma Dawson stage@palatinate.org.uk Music Editors Sophia Smith-Galer music@palatinate.org.uk Deputy Music Editor Jack Collins deputy.music@palatinate.org.uk Books Editor Kate Wilkinson books@palatinate.org.uk Visual Arts Editor Frances Marsh visual.arts@palatinate.org.uk Chief Sub-Editor Tom Willshaw sub-editing@palatinate.org.uk Sub-Editors Jordan Harries, Jacob Ratcliffe, Charlotte Hogg, Sraddha Venkataraman and Sam Courtney-Guy Online Editor Chris Somers online.editor@palatinate.org.uk Web Editor Rhiannon Mehta web.editor@palatinate.org.uk Photography Editor Emma Werner photography@palatinate.org.uk Deputy Photography Editors Rose Innes, Nicola Todhunter & Emma Wind Illustrations Editor Harriet-Jade Harrow illustration@palatinate.org.uk Blogs Editor Katie Winter blogs@palatinate.org.uk Publicity Officer Olivia le Poidevin publicity@palatinate.org.uk Advertising Officer Christopher Murphy advertising@palatinate.org.uk


PALATINATE | Thursday 13th February 2014

News in brief UNIVERSITY NEWS

SUCCESS IN UNDERGRADUATE AWARDS The world’s only pan-discipline academic awards programme is opening its doors once again, following significant success from Durham students in previous years. Five Durham students won the prizes in 2012, with another two coming highly commended; and two winning and seven Highly Commended entries last year. Participants can be students at any university worldwide and are encouraged to summit pieces of their course work under one of the 25 categories. NORWEGIAN AMBASSADOR TO VISIT DURHAM

His excellency Kim Traavik is due to visit Durham later next week as part of a scheme to develop Durham’s reputation as an international university. The Ambassador will also deliver a keynote speech on climate change and the environment, with Norway currently supplying 60% of its energy through renewable sources. The visit, organised by Emeritus Professor David Ellery, will see students from Durham university music department perform a recital of Norwegian and English music. DURHAM ESTABLISHES INTERNATIONAL LINKS

NEW

Durham University has established two new international partnerships. In the past weeks the university has seen visits from members of staff from the University of Notre Dame (America) as well as the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (India), to promote their research and postgraduate exchange links with Durham. Durham University’s partnership with the University of Notre Dame currently supports the exchange of postgraduate students, and talks are underway regarding the possibility of a combined degree programme.

PHYSICS DEPARTMENT WINS NATIONAL GENDER EQUALITY AWARD

Durham University’s Physics department has been awarded the Juno Practitioner award by the Institute of Physics. The department was assessed on several criteria including new developments to introduce more flexible working arrangements, provision for childcare and a more transparent organisational structure. Dr Alastair Edge, who coordinated the bid, said, “We are delighted with the award, which provides the recognition that we have started the long process of creating an environment that gives everyone the best opportunity to succeed.”

3 www.palatinate.org.uk

Errors revealed in 12.5% of Physics exam papers James Poole A report obtained by Palatinate has found that 12.5% of last year’s Physics exam papers contained errors, the highest of any other department in the Faculty of Science. The report, which was published by the Faculty of Science Education Committee, shows that inaccuracies on six out of a total of 48 Physics papers left students unable to answer questions. Daniel Cochrane, a first year Physics student, said: “the amount of errors in exam papers is absolutely appalling and proves that there is a real need for the Faculty to externally moderate its exam papers.” Other departments within the Faculty were also found to have set faulty exam papers, including the School of Engineering, where 7.46% of papers contained inaccuracies, and the Department of Mathematical Sciences, which suffered errors in 9.28% of examinations. A third-year Physics student, Jonathan Cullen, added to students’ anger, claiming: “this is incredibly frustrating, there should be concessions available to hardworking students who have to endure faulty papers in end-of-year exams.” In its analysis of the data, however, the Faculty of Science claimed

that the statistics were “welcome” as the overall amount of errors remained at the same level as in 2012 after an upward trend of exam errors for a number of years. The Faculty also congratulated the School of Engineering on experiencing a decrease in errors of just 3.84%. Lucy Grant, a first year Natural Sciences student with a double Physics module, argued: “the errors are unacceptable and embarrassing considering the international profile of Durham’s Physics Department.” This news follows the Department of Physics’ promotion from fourth to third place in the Complete University Guide’s 2014 Physics rankings, just below Oxford and Cambridge. One student was shocked by the report’s findings as Simon Rendell, a 2nd year Engineering student, said that “the amount of errors on exam papers surprises me as

summative coursework is always handled in an entirely scrupulous manner.” A first year Physics student, Alex Bow, said: “the Faculty and University could be doing more to reduce errors in examinations.” In response to the errors, Sam Dale, the university’s Deputy Academic Registrar, told Palatinate: “The university takes the matter of errors on exam papers very seriously and these are reported to the Education Committee annually as part of the Examinations and Assessments Report each December. “Following consideration of the report, the University has taken further action to seek to reduce the number of errors. This has included issuing best practice guidance to Departments to enable them to produce exam papers that are accurate and free from error.”

Illustration: Mariam Hayat

Butler runs cooking workshops for local charity Emma Stubbe-Sastre Students from Josephine Butler College have organised a series of cooking workshops in collaboration with the local youth homelessness charity, Moving On. Running from the 28th of January, the three workshops are directed at the charity’s service users as well as students. They aim to teach healthy cooking on a budget and were made possible through Butler’s ongoing collaboration with Durham Indoor Market, where the sessions take place. With Café Cenno providing the venue and Ian Kennedy of IK Fish providing ingredients and instruction, a group of up to ten young people have prepared meals including fish pie and shepherd’s pie at the first two sessions, with quiche for the next workshop. According to Siri Minsaas, vicepresident of the Butler JCR, the idea for the project originated

in the Durham University Charities Kommittee (DUCK) Cathedral Sleepout, which raises awareness and funds for, amongst others, Moving On. Following this experience of quasi-homelessness, she invited the manager of Moving On, Andrew Cowan, to give a talk at Butler last term. His presentation answered questions such as who is in danger of youth homelessness, and intended to break down stereotypes about the issue. Subsequently, a closer collaboration between the college and charity developed, with a focus on attempting to mitigate the effects of the reduction of funds for the charity which affected the ‘Lifeskills’ programme. Lifeskills, currently put on hold, consists of regular group work sessions that cover a wide range of subjects to “prepare members with skills for living independently and offer activities to reduce social isolation.” The subjects include sexual and mental health, employment skills,

personal safety, living on a budget, dealing with debt and bill payment, drug and alcohol awareness, police procedures and law as well as healthy cooking. The latter was tackled by said workshops, with volunteers from Butler College attempting to compensate for the lack of funding by contributing their time and effort. According to Siri Minsaas, bridging the gap between two different backgrounds, university student and service user, was not challenging. The youths bonded over their similar age groups and their shared purpose in attending the session with Moving On. The aim of Moving On is to “break the cycle of youth homelessness in County Durham.” The organization works to improve the health and welfare of young people aged 16 to 25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness by making them “less vulnerable” and giving them “the opportunity to improve their chances of leading happy and productive lives.”

News

Students’ Union President’s Column Dan Slavin

The next few weeks are very important for the Students’ Union, with Student Officer Elections on the horizon and we are also working on our ‘Project: Your Voice’ campaign, which gives you the chance to have your say about your educational experience at Durham University. Student Officer Elections are a unique opportunity that is open to all students, no matter what your past involvement in the Union. Now is your chance to help to lead the Students’ Union and shape Durham University. There are five different Officer positions that you can nominate yourself for, with something to suit a variety of interests. Being a Student Officer is a first job like no other, and I should know! If you are interested, we encourage you to visit our website to find out more about why you should run and what is involved, or speak to the existing Student Officers, who will be happy to share their experience with you. Alongside elections, our ‘Project: Your Voice’ campaign asks you about your educational experience at Durham. We kicked this off on Monday 10th February, with a team of staff going out on campus to interview students, which has been filmed by Durham Student Film. These interviews have been on-going throughout the week at both Durham and Queen’s campus. Alongside these video interviews, we are inviting all students to complete a quick online survey in order to give everybody the chance to have their say. The online survey is open until 28th February, so we encourage you to participate and have your say. All of the results will be combined and a Quality Report will be produced to feed back to the University. Visit the Students’ Union website and click through to our ‘Project: Your Voice’ article to find out more.


4

News News in brief LOCAL NEWS

COUNTY DURHAM EXHIBITION IN LONDON An exhibition which took place earlier this week at the House of Commons was a one-off opportunity to highlight the county’s growing connection with light. The event, hosted by Business Durham, the business arm of Durham County Council, follows the success of the Lumiere festival in Durham City last November and highlights the growing cluster of companies involved in the science of light, imaging, optics and photonics that have made the county their home.

DURHAM CRICKETERS TAKE ON ZIP WIRE FOR AUTISM CHARITY Two Durham cricketers, Gordon Muchall and Gareth Breese, will be launched from the roof of the Stadium of Light in Sunderland to raise money for the North East Autism Society (NEAS) and are hoping to raise more than £25,000. Mr Breese, whose son was diagnosed with autism last November said, “I know first-hand the challenges parents face when dealing with a youngster on the autism spectrum and know how important the work of the charity is.” He added, “it will be terrifying but a fantastic way to mark World Autism Awareness month.”

RENEWED FUNDING TO SUPPORT LOCAL HABITAT

£17,000 worth of funding has been put to use by The Woodland Trust to make Low Burnhall more wildlifefriendly as well as to improve access for visitors. The improvements, funded by Durham Area Action Partnership (AAP) include a number of ‘wet scrape’ areas, which enrich the site for water-related wildlife. The funding has also supported events for families and hundreds of local schoolchildren. The trust has also been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Forestry Commission and County Durham Environmental Trust.

Thursday 13th February 2014 | PALATINATE

www.palatinate.org.uk

DUSTOPS has success with Trafficking Awareness Week Gabriel Samuels Durham’s Human Trafficking Awareness Week invited students to a range of events aimed at highlighting the continuing problem of modern day slavery in the North East. The programme, which took place two weeks ago, was hosted by Durham University Stop the Trafficking Of People Society (DUSTOPS) and included several fundraising events, a night of short film screenings, and culminated with a public petition signing at the Palace Green Debating Chambers. It has been estimated that 10,000 slaves currently live and work in the UK, many of those in the North East, prompting DUSTOPS to emphasise the fact that “slavery is something that happens on our doorsteps.” The society oversaw a ‘Sing Against the Trafficking’ event before hosting a pub quiz with the Feminist Society as part of the Students’ Union’s ‘Give it a Go Week’. On the following Friday a debate on the state of modern day slavery in the UK was held at the Debating Chambers and welcomed speakers from various organisations including Stop the Traffik, The Global Slavery Index and the Stockton-based A Way Out. The week’s well-attended centrepiece was the North-East premiere of the ‘Unchosen’ Film Roadshow on the Wednesday. The free event at Hild Bede’s Caedmon Hall welcomed an audience of over 100 students and locals to watch three short films based on real-life tales of human trafficking. The screening was followed by a

Q&A panel hosted by Gary Craig, Professor of Community Development and Social Justice at Durham University, and Camilla Brown, UK & Ireland Coordinator for Unchosen. The pair fielded audience questions after delivering speeches stressing the importance of such awareness events to the anti-slavery community.

Featured DUSSTOP Events

‘Sing Against the Trafficking’ open mic night Joint pub quiz with Feminist Society

North-East premiere of ‘Unchosen’ Film Roadshow

“The Unchosen night was a great way of getting our message out there” said DUSTOPS president and Grey College student Joely Charlton. “We were so glad all these people came, including so many members of the local community. “Thanks to that event we are hoping to make a sister community group for locals in Durham, who will be responsible for running DUSTOPS operations during the university holidays. It’s a postive development.” DUSTOPS also used the week to liaise with a variety of community services to encourage the clamp down on slavery in the area. On the Monday, members of the society went to 15 separate Durham taxi services to discuss trafficking issues and distribute information from Stop the Traffik. Joely added: “Taxi drivers represent a frontline service and often

unwittingly come into contact with trafficked victims who use their vehicles. If we can work with taxi companies to prevent that and ask them to keep an eye out for potential victims, it could really help our cause.” DUSTOPS was established by students in October of last year and was founded on the conviction “that people should not be for sale.” The society already has over 200 members to its name and has overseen a range of charitable events since its inception. The total eradication of Durham City’s ‘slavery footprint’ is one of the society’s key objectives and it is already one of the University’s most vocal groups, from organising energetic flashmobs in Market Square to leading a troop of students on a silent protest around the City. Joely said: “We’re so pleased with how our HTA week went, as we had hundreds of people engage with the slavery issues that matter, which was great. “I think the most important thing for us to do is to challenge the misconception that trafficking happens only in certain countries in the world, when it’s a global crime that occurs in every single country on earth, including Great Britain. “If we can make even the smallest difference to the lives of trafficking victims in the North-East, it will all have been worth it.”

P

To see all the latest news, visit www.palatinate.org.uk

FORUM SET UP TO PROTECT DURHAM CITY CENTRE Last week saw the first meeting of the Durham City Neighbourhood Planning Forum (NPF) at Durham Town Hall. The forum is one of several NPFs which have been created across the country under the Localism Act 2011 and emerged amid anger over the £200m development of the Mount Oswald golf course. Chair Muriel Sawbridge described the forum as “a great opportunity for local people to have a say in shaping the future development of Durham City.”

Members of DUSSTOPS took part in a flashmob in Market Square

Photograph: DUSSTOPS

DUCK Chair’s Column Naz Atkinson Hi everyone! So this week has been the most exciting, fun and bizarre week that I have spent with DUCK in my four years here. On Monday, DUCK Week 2014 started and things have just gone slightly mad! Last Friday we held our weekly exec meeting. Not to downplay our meetings, but on an average week they consist of cake, ‘deep intellectual charity chat’ (we like to think!) and organisational matters. In this particular meeting however, we spray painted a car cover yellow, stencilled on ‘DUCK WEEK’ and several duck logos and just had the best time! Not only was it exhilarating in that we felt like graffiti artists/gangsters (we don’t get out much) but at one point the police stopped by! As it turned out they had come to move on the intoxicated man who had thrown himself on our construction but for a short while it could not have been more thrilling. ;) On Monday we opened DUCK Week 2014 in style! 4,000 muddy ducks from last year’s Annual DUCK Race were hauled up to the Science Site, poured out and washed. We spent a fantastic day scrubbing ducks, encouraging volunteers to take part with the slogan, ‘take a break, wash a duck’ (not our best…) and shouting about Library Fines. Thanks to all those of you who took part in the washing, have paid your library fines for charity or spread the rumour that we were peeling potatoes! Finally on Tuesday THE BIG DUCK went up outside the Library! Tuesday morning was spent running around Durham sourcing tent pegs, special adaptor plugs, rope, cake and cable ties but finally, at 11:30am, our DUCK hatched and we couldn’t be prouder! I love DUCK because I just have the oddest experiences of all of the time and I would recommend it to anyone (I would also recommend going to see the BIG DUCK!) GET INVOLVED! dsu.duck-chair@durham.ac.uk


PALATINATE | Thursday 13th February 2014

News in brief NATIONAL NEWS CAMBRIDGE STUDENTS LAUNCH ‘WAGES NOT WINE’ PROTEST Around 50 Cambridge University students gathered outside King’s College last month to protest after it was revealed that the college spent £338,559 on wine for fellows and students last year. The ‘King’s Living Wage’ group organised the protest and voiced their fury at the college’s employment of 123 people for less than the living wage. A Freedom of information Request submitted by the Daily Telegraph also revealed that the university’s total wine bill for the last academic year came in at just under £3m.

NEW GRAMMAR SCHOOL TEST SAID TO TEST FOR ABILITY RATHER THAN AFFLUENCE In an effort to cut down on excessive tutoring for young students trying to get into top grammar schools, many institutions are designing new and innovative tests to measure pure ability, a move which may foil parents paying for expensive tutor sessions. The new tests are expected to focus on information that could be reasonably learned in primary school and does not require a ‘test-taking technique,’ one of the things that can improve scores without increasing understanding. However, the new system is proving highly controversial.

MICHAEL GOVE URGED TO TAKE ACTION ON FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION PETITION A campaign that gathered 130,000 signatures has insisted that Michael Gove, the education secretary, take action and inform head teachers that they should begin training their new staff about the horrors of genital mutilation. Gove has so far refused to comment on the petition, ignoring the fact that Scotland’s government has already taken action and has written to all the head teachers in the country. Comments are expected to be forthcoming from the secretary’s office, but as yet nothing has been heard.

UNIVERSITIES SHOULD “PULL THEIR SOCKS UP” TO IMPROVE GENDER INEQUALITY The Chair of the Commons Science and Technology Committee, Andrew Miller, has said that “an awful lot more could be done” to help women in scientific careers. Miller made the comments after he published a parliamentary report highlighting that just 17% of professors working in science in the UK are women. The news comes after Durham University’s Department of Physics was awarded the Juno Practitioner status last month for improving gender equality in both its staff and students.

5

News

www.palatinate.org.uk

University of Notre Dame and Norwegian ambassador to come to Durham Kirsty Walter Durham plays hosts to two visitors this month; dignitaries of the University of Notre Dame and the Norwegian Ambassador His Excellency Mr Kim Traavik.

University of Notre Dame From 2nd to 6th February, a team of senior academics and members of the international executive office from the University of Notre Dame were hosted by the University.

“there are tremendous synergies between our two institutions” Professor Paul Murray

The event was arranged by Professor Paul Murray, Director of the University’s Centre for Catholic Studies. Murray said: “We are delighted to welcome our colleagues from Notre Dame to Durham once again. “There are tremendous synergies between our two institutions and we look forward to building on these going forward.”

Durham and Notre Dame consistently rank in the World Top 100 universities, making the peer institutions suitable partners. The Universities have already developed links between their respective faculties of Arts and Humanities and of Science. The focus this time has therefore been on identifying links in Chemistry, Physics and research institutes within the Faculty of Science. The aim of the visit was for the universities to discuss how best to collaborate and develop a partnership. It is hoped that this will favour research projects and postgraduate provision. Further potential benefits – for both universities – include longterm collaboration on research initiatives and the regular hosting of Notre Dame faculty and postgraduate students. Collaborative degree programmes are also a possibility. Durham’s teaching fellows are already considered to be some of the best in their respective fields, but this would allow for the international sharing of expertise. Notre Dame (in South Bend, Indiana) is recognised in North America as a prestigious institution. Its strengths in research and teaching, and a highly rated student experience, have earned it this status.

The University of Notre Dame also has a reputation in Europe and Asia as a proven research institution and a serious option for non-American students. Proud of its ever-increasing international outreach, the University was proud to welcome these honourable guests.

protest organisers, this auction would likely come with a hike in student loan interest rate caps, leaving more students in a precarious position as they attempt to pay loans back.

Woods, the MP for Durham, calling for her to address the issue. William told Palatinate: “We haven’t received an official response yet. I believe she’s requested permission to sign an early-day motion to stop the privatisation of student debt, but so far she hasn’t done anything about that.” The form itself of Wednesday’s protest was, for many, jarring. The organisers see this as a good thing. “The basic symbolic idea was that we would wear the pound sign masks to represent the way we’re seen by the Government – we’re not seen as people, we’re seen as money,” Tom told Palatinate. “I think what we’re trying to do at the moment is more of an information campaign. It’s one thing to simply hand out leaflets - if there’s some kind of visual display as well it does attract people. “I think it’s quite important to have something eye-opening and shocking,” William agreed. “We wanted to really get our message across.”

The Norwegian Ambassador Durham University will welcome His Excellency Mr Kim Traavik on 21st and 22nd February. He will meet Norwegian staff and students here. There will also be a recital of Norwegian and English music, performed by Durham’s students.

University of Notre Dame

The ambassador’s visit has a strong focus on Norway’s reduction of its contributions to global warming. Renewable energy sources account for nearly 60 per cent of Norway’s consumption, with hydroelectricity constituting the major renewable energy source. After taking part in a scientific poster symposium at Van Mildert College, the dignitary will give a lecture entitled ‘Climate Change and the Environment’. The visit has been organised by David Ellery, Professor Emeritus in the Royal College of Defence Studies and Chair of the Van Mildert Association.

Photograph: Wikimedia

Students stage protest against austerity Justin Villamil

Durham University Students Against Austerity (DUSAA) staged an unexpected protest against the privatisation of student loans last Wednesday. The protest, which featured masks with pound symbols painted over them, signs, and megaphones, attracted much attention, and organisers considered it a resounding success. “I think it’s really good to see things like this happen, because people in Durham don’t tend to be very politically involved,” an organiser who preferred to be identified only as William told Palatinate. “People have to understand that this is our future we’re talking about and it is very important.” The protests, which follow a current Government plan to auction off £20 billion of UK assets, including a large number of students loans, are ongoing. According to analysts and the

“the ViceChancellor is paid more than the Prime Minister”

William, organiser of the DUSAA protests “I think there are a lot of people that are opposed to that, it is a huge issue,” an organiser named Tom told Palatinate. “So what we’re trying to do is set up a structure that enables people to take a stand.” Last term, DUSAA released a petition to Roberta Blackman-

In the long run, Tom and William plan to collaborate with larger student organisations and the next particular issue for them is the staff strike. “There’s going to be further action. We’re not exactly sure what that action will be. We’re going to be taking a bigger role in the ongoing strike, because it’s hugely unfair,” William told Palatinate. “The Vice-Chancellor is paid more than the Prime Minister and seventeen times as much as the lowest earning employees, and you still have many people on a zerohours contract. It’s quite bad.” “I think that’s one of the major objectives,” Tom agreed. “The means to do that is to bring students together and force organisations like the NUS to take a stand on this.”

P

To see all the latest news, visit www.palatinate. org.uk


6

News News in brief NATIONAL NEWS

LSE LEANS TOWARD LIFTING CLASS SIZE LIMIT According to a recently reported piece in Times Higher Education, the London School of Economics (LSE) is considering lifting their class size limit, even in the face of increasing student protests. Concerns amongst the student body lead many to believe that lifting the limit would lead to class-to-lecturer ratios that would not be beneficial for discussions or in-depth learning. Despite these voiced concerns, LSE appears poised to lift them, but any time frame is, at this point, mere speculation.

NATIONAL TEACHERS STRIKE SET FOR MARCH 26TH A national teachers strike has been announced for the 26th March. Protesting pay, conditions, and pensions, teachers in England and Wales are set to walk out in protest in the third national strike since 2011. The last talks that occurred between the NUT (National Union of Teachers) and the Government was back in October of 2013, and, according to the recent BBC report, was mostly fruitless. According to the report, the Government began on a conciliatory foot, but then proceeded to throw up a series of roadblocks in front of protesters. There is no word yet on what senior officials plan to do in response to the planned strike.

PRIMARY SCHOOL SPORT GETS £750 MILLION PLEDGE David Cameron has recently announced a new pledge of £750 million for primary schools, which will recur yearly until at least 2020. This move represents an additional £150 million on top of the intial pledge several years ago, and has been extended for another five years. This outreach into primary school sport is focused around promoting wellbeing and healthy lifestyles, a report has stated. The extra funding is also intended to be an additional legacy of the recent Olympic games. APPRENTICESHIP VACANCIES UP 24%

According to a recent article by the BBC, apprenticeship vacancies in England are up by 24%. The information comes from the National Apprenticeship Service, which also noted that, although vacancies have increased, applications for these vacancies have also increased by a staggering 43%; a signal of a weak job market. The NAS has insisted that more has to be done to increase the number of spaces available for individuals who want to work, but so far nothing has occurred.

Thursday 13th February 2014 | PALATINATE

www.palatinate.org.uk

‘Take your Time to Sign’ Campaign criticised Tom Fenton The Durham Students’ Union (SU) has come under attack from first year students for its handling of the ‘Take Your Time to Sign’ campaign. The campaign was launched this year because of past problems with students signing contracts with landlords too early. According to the SU, 81% of students who sought ‘support and advice about their health and well-being in private accommodation’ signed in November. Grace Abel, the Community Officer at the SU, told Palatinate: “The Take Your Time to Sign campaign was developed following feedback from the Students’ Union advice service and the counselling service. “These services had identified that many second years were unhappy with their housemates, having rushed into signing for a house only a few weeks into their first year. “The aim of the campaign was to try and give first years the confidence to wait to see how their new friendships developed, before committing to signing for a house. This would help to make sure they have a happy second year.” She concluded: “An in-depth review of the campaign, undertaken by StuRents, identified that in November 2013, 321 properties were signed for, in December 2013, 655 properties were let and in January 2014, 893 properties in Durham City were let. “The summary of the representative research read that the campaign definitely raised awareness of taking time to sign with a large number of students waiting to sign contracts until January.” However, many first year students have slammed the campaign, reporting that most of the best houses had been taken by second and third years in the previous term. A first year student from St Aidan’s said: “Those who took their time to sign found themselves panic signing Continued from front page

“Immediately after the meeting all college bars were reminded of their responsibilities and a subsequent review meeting of all Bursars and Bar Managers took place to evaluate the present policies and training provided to staff; these will be updated and communicated as required.” The new restrictions will have a particular impact on students who come to Durham whilst they are still underage, particularly Scottish students, whose school system is significantly different.  One undergraduate student, who was under 18 when she arrived in Durham for Freshers’ week, told Palatinate “I saw no resistance at all to alcohol whilst underage. “The college bar staff were

because the housing stock was just too small after the Christmas break.” Another first year student, who did not wish to name his college, agreed: “People panicked in the last few weeks and even went as far as to take whole days off of lectures in order to do house viewings, hold meetings, and sign because they were so worried they would get the worst pick, or be living miles away from facilities or anyone they knew.” He added that he had skipped one lecture to search for houses. The student told Palatinate that he had taken a “very relaxed view towards housing” until after his January exams had finished because of the campaign. However, by the second week of January, he said, “the choice of housing was severely reduced. We even went into some estate agents to be told that they had nothing left at all! “In all, whilst the campaign was important in making people thoroughly consider their housing and housemates, it went far too far by pushing the waiting into mid to late January. I will be house viewing before Christmas next year and signing at the latest within the first week back after Christmas.” According to the Union’s campaign, ‘many landlords release their good houses in January,’ which one student described as “utter rubbish.” He told Palatinate that one estate agent told him that “we had been lied to.”

“those who took their time to sign found themselves panic signing”

Fresher from St Aidan’s Dawn Pirie, a Senior Estates Manager at JW Wood Estate Agents, confirmed to Palatinate: “We release all our houses at the same time, normally around November time.” Peter Smith, director at Bill Free Homes, agreed: “The impression was given that there were loads of houses released on to the market in January;

supposed to have pictures of underage students behind the bar, but no action was taken towards me. “I have to admit that this made me feel a lot more secure and settled, as I thought being underage would exclude me from social events. All in all it didn’t really affect my social life, yet I can’t help feeling it should have.” The news comes after students of the University Music department received an e-mail urging them not to take part in the recent NekNomination video drinking game.   The e-mail asked students to delete videos appearing on their Facebook accounts should they have participated, and sanctions have also been taken against some extracurricular groups.

this was not the case. “I felt that this was something that was overplayed  by the housing talks. We did put a house on our site in January but only because it was newly acquired.”

“feedback [from those who waited] ... has been very postive” Grace Abel

One student from Van Mildert told Palatinate: “There is a disparity between the market and what we are being told.” Ms Pirie added: “We’ve see quite a few first years who only started looking after Christmas being a bit surprised with what there is because obviously there isn’t that much to choose from. “We’ve had quite a few parents ring up and asking why isn’t there anything left around the science site after Christmas for example.” Although Grace Abel from the Students’ Union told the paper that “the feedback we have received from students who did take their time and waited before signing has been very positive,” Palatinate has found only limited support for this year’s campaign. A student from Van Mildert, who contacted the Students’ Union in on the first day of epiphany term, said: “In my experience, the SU were very prompt in looking at my housing contract. “They replied to me within two and a half hours with guidance about clauses and other general information.” Another student from Collingwood told Palatinate: “They said they would return the contract within 30 minutes as they already had an identical copy and this is exactly what they did.” However, a second year student from St Cuthbert’s Society who is heavily involved in Durham Students’ Union, recommended that people be wary of the SU. He described them as “incompetent, disorganised and letting students down.”

He continued: “They put blocks in front of students from fulfilling what they want to do and contradict their own tagline of ‘enabling students’ and instead make it harder for students to do what they want to do.” Another first year student, who had received a slow response from the Durham Students’ Union’s contract checking service and so lost a house he wanted to sign, said: “The Student Union has, with their campaign, undermined confidence in its own questionable abilities, caused unnecessary student stress and many students I have spoken to are now asking whether it is even helpful to them.” However, Veronique Peacock, the Accommodation Officer in the Colleges Office, said: “The University fully supports the Students’ Union in their ‘take your time to sign’ campaign believing that it is in students’ best interests to consider seriously and carefully all the factors involved in signing a tenancy agreement.” Both Dawn Pirie and Peter Smith agreed that it is important for students to take care when signing for houses early on. Peter concurred: “We do feel it is important for students to know the members of their groups that they are going to be living with” Veronique Peacock concluded: “The University Accommodation Office is available to assist any students seeking private accommodation for 2014/15 with their search and a variety of properties are currently available to let throughout Durham. “A new voluntary accreditation scheme for Student Landlords developed in partnership with Durham County Council is due to be launched later this year that will provide students with additional assurance when seeking private accommodation.” Grace Abel from the Students’ Union added: “If students are worried about finding houses, we encourage them to come and speak to us in the Union. “The Union’s advice service will be happy to help, or they can visit the University Accommodation Office.”

College bars must now check for ID Photograph: Emma Werner


PALATINATE | Thursday 13th February 2014

News in brief INTERNATIONAL NEWS

NEW YORK CITY MAYOR TRIES TO INCREASE CITY TAXES TO PAY FOR PRIMARY EDUCATION New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio is puting his political capital to the test as he tries to push through higher taxes in order to fund primary education programs. DeBlasio, who follows on the heels of pro-business mayor Michael Bloomberg, is said to be having a tough go of it. In order to secure the necessary funds, however, the new mayor will have to fight state governor Andrew Cuomo, who vehemently opposes new taxes. However, according to DeBlasio’s office, funding can’t come soon enough, as the city struggles under poor education rates.

FORMER CHILEAN EDUCATION ADVOCATE AND STUDENT REVOLUTIONARY GAINS PARLIAMENT SEAT

Camila Vallejo, a former student revolutionary and education activist has taken a seat in the Chilean parliament despite the fact her views directly oppose theirs. As a member of the Community Youth, Vallejo lead Chile’s University of Chile student federation in marches as recent as 2011. Now 25 and a mother, she has taken up a post as a Marxist in parliament in order to combat some of the exploitation of higher education in Chile, calling it a ‘for-profit sham.’ RWANDA SETS SIGHTS ON TEACHER TRAINING AND EMPLOYABILITY With primary school attendance rates at essentially 100%, the Rwandan government is now focusing money and resources on the teachers themselves, to shore up the quality of this desperately-sought education. According to a recent report from UNESCO, Rwanda is one of the top three best performing for reducing out of school populations by at least 85% over the last five years - a title the country shares with Laos and Vietnam. However, according to some independent observer organisations, the rapid enrollment program has stifled a great deal of education advancement.

25% OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN DEVELOPING WORLD ILLITERATE According to a recent UN report, the developing world is marked by higher rates of illiteracy and substantial development possibilities lost because of this. Calling the problem the ‘illliteracy legacy,’ many UN programs are now focusing on illiteracy as a means of economic growth and further development.

7

News

www.palatinate.org.uk

Students push for living wage Anissa Alifandi Two colleges are to vote on their involvement to increase pressure on the University to pay the Living Wage to all employees. St Mary’s and Trevelyan will propose this issue in upcoming JCR meetings, whereas University College has already passed a Living Wage motion put forward at the turn of the month. The latest Freedom of Information data reveals that around 12.5% of permanent University staff and more than 90% of contracted workers are paid below the Living Wage. This national figure, regarded as the amount necessary to cover basic cost of living is calculated by The Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP, Loughborough University) and was announced in November 2013 as £7.65 per hour. Many consider the statistics a surprise, particularly as the last edition of Palatinate revealed that Vice-Chancellor, Professor Christopher Higgins, recently accepted a £14,000 rise in overall benefits. Previous efforts by the trade union UNISON to encourage the University to implement the Living Wage have been somewhat fruitless. Letters and even a Valentine’s surprise to the Vice-Chancellor last year were responded to with thanks, but no salary increase. Questioning the moral obligations of higher education institutions to society and highlighting the report, “How can universities support disadvantaged communities?” UNISON have publically condemned the University. Authored by three Durham academics, including Deputy Vice-

Chancellor, Professor Ray Hudson, it states that universities should “set an example to other employers by promoting good practice, such as ensuring that all employees are paid at least the Living Wage.” Later mentions of “corporate social responsibility” seemingly contradict the University’s current position, as they claim payment of this wage is not feasible to guaranteeing job security for all staff. Where it is reported that six of the most senior University academics earn six-figure sums, some employees are still partially reliant on state benefits.

“[Universities should] set an example to other employers by ...ensuring that all employees are paid at least the Living Wage” UNISON Paper

In the face of strike action by academic staff, however, the equality of workers at lower pay bands has at least captured the attention of the student body. Anna Rømcke Høiseth’s successful presentation of the ethical reasons behind the issue led to University College’s JCR sharing her concerns over unfairness at the undervaluing of employee contributions and conveying a message of support to staff affected. The movement saw activity as early as last November, as the

Durham University Labour Club (DULC) hosted a fully-booked talk on the topic by Professor Jane Wills (Queen Mary University, London), a leading researcher in labour supply and politics and member of the policy committee at the Living Wage Foundation. The DULC’s online petition has also amassed 601 signatures, with comments calling for fair and dignified treatment of employees. Furthermore, at the end of January, the Student Union assembly meeting approved a new Living Wage Society (DULWS) dedicated to raising awareness of the issue on campus. Explaining the prospective benefits of its cause, Matthew Wright of the DULWS supports the claims in the online petition, stating that Living Wage employers report increased productivity and reduced absenteeism. Wright believes that through information provision activism will ensue, reflecting his opinion that students do not care about the negative impact. Pledging to “work with the University as much as possible, to highlight the advantages and good-sense of implementing this policy”, the society aims to promote equality and prosperity within the wider community as well as obtaining accredited Living Wage employer status for the University. The Ethical and Environmental Committee agreed, declaring that the University is not wholly fulfilling its welfare responsibilities to staff and resolving to actively campaign to remedy this. Speaking to Palatinate, Professor Hudson highlighted the need to consider the true meaning of a Living Wage stating that “more sophisticated” methods are required

to calculate such a figure. The National Living Wage is applicable to the whole of England, excluding only the capital, so there is scope for further research into working out more appropriate regional sums. In addition, he emphasises the pension scheme offered to University staff which amounts to a 12% contribution from the institution. Although UNISON argue that lowest paid workers already experiencing cutbacks due to the welfare reforms tend not to opt in to such packages, the Deputy Vice Chancellor prefers to look at the bigger picture. Hudson argues that a continuing rise in life expectancies should be taken into account and he asserts that “inadequate state pensions” will lead to individuals becoming increasingly dependent on private pensions, the financial obligation of the University.

£7.65

Hourly ‘living wage’ rate proposed

Expressing doubts as to the future of this debate, Professor Hudson stresses the little evidence of unrest amongst staff and the (arguably) ‘normal’ routine despite meeting on the day of a strike. However, as more students become conscious of the Living Wage and the potential for the campaign to gain momentum becomes more probable, this hotly-debated issue is likely to see interesting developments in the coming months.

DU Electric Motorsport begin build of 2014 car Andrew Dawson DU Electric Motorsport (DUEM), one of the University’s newest clubs, have commenced the build of their 2014 entry into the Formula Student competition run by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers to design a prototype racing car. Universities from across Europe enter, with last year’s winner coming from Zurich. Top UK universities include Bath, Imperial College London & Oxford Brookes. However a British team has never won the competition. In 2013 an Electric power car won the competition for the first time, perhaps the first time an electric vehicle has beaten petrol vehicles in motorsport. DUEM formed by the joining of two separate teams: the Solar Car team (DUSC) and the Formula stu-

dent team. DUSC was set up in the early 2000s, and the team have previously raced their Solar Car in North America and Australia, and won ‘Best New Team’ at the 2007 North American Solar Challenge. The Solar Car had been developed over the best part of a decade, making small incremental improvements. The Formula Student team was created in 2010 to enter the popular IMechE competition, as many other top engineering universities are involved, including Cambridge, Nottingham and Sheffield. In their first year, Durham competed in the ‘design only’ class 2, and finished an impressive 7th; the highest placed new team. Last year, the two teams decided that a combined team would be bigger, more successful and give a better, more varied experience to its members. Both projects will

The DUEM 2014 car

Photograph: DUEM

be worked on, but only one competition will be entered each year. With a team of more than thirty students, many from engineering, but also studying less obviously related degrees such as Economics, many different skills are needed and developed from marketing to electrical engineering. With two electric cars, the team also feels strongly about developing ideas and support for a greener future. This year DUEM is entering Formula Student with the designs

complete, evolving from previous years to incorporate the experience of the Solar Car team. Actually turning ideas into reality is the most exciting phase of any project, and DUEM has commenced this at New College Durham where, together with local students, the steel chassis is being welded. The plan is to have a rolling chassis by the end of term, and then to take the finished car to Silverstone in July.


8

Careers

Thursday 13th February 2014 | PALATINATE

www.palatinate.org.uk

Empowering women in the workplace

Chloe Kopala discusses gender imbalances in the business world, companies’ efforts and DUWIB Chloe Kopala

“Women are not making it to the top of any profession anywhere in the world - the numbers tell the story quite clearly” said Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg in her 2010 Tedx Talk. During 2008 and 2012, the share of women across CEOs in Standard and Poor’s 500 companies remained at four per cent - a staggeringly low figure in today’s world.

“The share of women across CEOs in Standard and Poor’s 500 companies remained at four per cent”

It has been over forty years since the Equal Pay Act was introduced, but it is clear that gender inequality in the workplace is still a major issue in the UK and around the world. With the UK Government announcing that it wants one quarter of all directorship in FTSE 100 companies to be held by women in 2015, Lloyds bank pledging that forty percent of its senior job roles will be occupied by women at the end of the decade and Barack Obama’s state of union address in January highlighting gender pay inequality; it seems that women in business is a hot topic and a major issue for firms globally. Is this just about political correctness or does it make economic sense? Vince Cable has argued the latter: “The evidence is clear - those businesses with diverse senior management make better decisions and that is reflected on the bottom line.” Furthermore, a recent report by the Commons Science and Technology Committee revealed that a meagre one in eight jobs requiring advanced science, technology, engineering or maths skills went to women and warned that the UK risked failing to find enough workers to fill vital jobs in science and industry without increasing the number of women in these areas. There is an array of evidence to suggest that the employment of women on an equal basis would allow companies to make better use of their available talent pool, with potential implications of national economic growth. In their

“a ‘motherhood penalty’ is estimated at fourteen percent across the OECD countries” OECD report (2012)

survey of companies’ performance, with a focus on innovation, Dezso and Ross (2011) found that female representation in top management can improve performance whilst McKinsey (2008) highlight that companies with three or more women on their senior management team score higher on all nine organizational dimensions that are positively associated with higher operating margins. Many prestigious companies are focusing on women’s networks, as there is still a social concept that deters women from entering high positions in the business world; a thought highlighted when looking at a study completed by Batsh and Yee in 2012, which showed that among a sample of sixty Fortune 500 or similar-sized companies, only eighteen per cent

contracts with more flexible working hours. In doing so and through offering ample opportunities for women in the workplace, one will discover if discrimination is still present in the economy or the lower representation of females simply highlights the freewill of women in making a lifestyle choice to dedicate time to child-bearing and child-rearing. So how can students become more actively involved in learning about this controversial topic and help to tackle the gender imbalance in the workplace? Durham University Women in Business (DUWIB) is a relatively new society that was founded in 2010, with the concept being a spin-off from Oxford University Women in Business (OXWIB). The society not only aims to empow-

“If discrimination is still present in the economy or the lower representation of females simply highlights the free-will of women in making a lifestyle choice”

ception just over two years ago, the society has had enormous success and has seen incredible growth, with over three thousand members and an impressive array of sponsors including PwC, BlackRock, IBM, Goldman

Durham University Women In Business 2013-2014 Photograph: Ella Gould

of entry or mid-level female staff aspired to reach a top-level management position at that company versus thirty-six percent of male staff. Pregnancy and child-rearing are arguably some of the biggest causation factors, with many women believing they have to choose between gaining positions of responsibility or starting a family. In an OECD report (2012), it was stated that “The wage gap increases steeply during childbearing and childrearing years, pointing to an additional ‘motherhood penalty’, estimated at fourteen percent across the OECD countries.” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director at the World Bank, has spoken about the gains to society by recruiting more women through the multiplier effect: “Gender equality is smart economics because investing in women promotes economic growth as well as social progress.” It is imperative for governments to remove obstacles that make it hard for women to combine work with having children; for example by offering parental leave and child care, and creating

“Investing in women promotes economic growth as well as social progress” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Managing Director at the World Bank er enterprising students to expand and sharpen their understanding of business and entrepreneurship, giving them the skills they need to become future leaders, but also encourages companies to strive for positive change through creating a more supportive environment in the workplace so that female employees can flourish and reach their full potential. Although the society is geared towards females, men are also encouraged to join in order to promote diversity and the importance of gender equality in business. Since its in-

Sachs and Linklaters. Their student members boast an enviable array of internship experiences and graduate offers from firms such as Goldman Sachs, J.P.Morgan, Citi, Allen & Overy, Procter & Gamble, KPMG and Condé Nast. The activities of DUWIB cover a broad scope, and aim to encourage participation from students spanning a range of degrees and year groups. Networking events are organised to encourage a sense of unity, interactive seminars are held which focus on educating and encouraging a platform for the enterprising young females at Durham University and DUWIB encourages female speakers and company representatives to lead events and recount their paths to success. These activities foster and encourage a platform for the enterprising young females at Durham University. Past events have included an Accenture Interview and Assessment Centre workshop, a BlackRock ‘Coffee chat’, an HSBC Women’s brunch and a J.P.Morgan Women’s tea event. These provide the opportunities for

members to network with influential female mentors, build lasting connections and relationships within that company, and ask questions within an open and less intimidating environment. To make aspirations realistic and attainable, it is important that females in today’s society have role models that are not only influential and successful, but are also grounded, humble and with the openness to admit the hurdles they met on the way to their success. Certainly, the Co-President of DUWIB is also a role model for students in demonstrating the value of exploiting these Women Events. Although Natsumi Bolton was initially rejected from the Goldman Sachs Spring Week, she was placed on the waiting list, kept on their system and later invited to a women’s event. She exploited this opportunity to network, build relationships with HR and gain advice for her application. Natsumi stresses the importance of taking initiative to attend these events, adding “It doesn’t matter whether your parents have connections or not, it’s down to your efforts to meet employees at networking events and build relationships. This is how you can differentiate yourself from other candidates, and people you meet at these events are more than willing to help you with your career goals.”

“It was purely because of networking, the preparation I undertook beforehand and learning from the rejections I got” Natsumi Bolton Co-President of DUWIB

She was offered a summer internship and was able to successful transfer this into a full-time offer in Equity Sales that she will take up once she graduates this year. “It was purely because of networking, the preparation I undertook beforehand and learning from the rejections I got.” She adds that her interest and participation in these women-focused events aided her in her cover letter and during her interview, as she was eager to demonstrate her interest in gender equality. To discover more about Durham University Women in Business, please see their website on www.duwib.org. uk or visit their Facebook page by searching “Durham University Women in Business.”


PALATINATE | Thursday 13th February 2014

9

Careers

www.palatinate.org.uk

The many faces of Law: from whistleblowing to country creation Richard Calland, Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town, discusses his career

This is the final interview of an interview series with ex-editor of Palatinate which took place over the summer vacation.

How did you get involved in academia? I was a barrister for seven years before I went to South Africa. I only went to the academic side in 2007. There was effectively a twentyyear period in between. I started off with a bit of everything and at the end it was mainly employment law and child abuse. In the early 90s I had an early midlife crisis, as I like to call it, I became a bit restless with this country. Politically and socially and I needed a change. I went to South Africa in early ‘94 in order to work for the Africa National Congress (ANC) during the election. I’d been quite active in the Labour party in south London and the Labour party had an informal agreement with the ANC that people who had certain skills would be able to work with the

Were you always interested in working in another country? When I was at Durham there was a lot of student politics around Nicuragua, Palestine and South Africa. There was a huge amount of energy in the Students’ Union from the traditional ‘lefties’. Those of us interested in politics, like myself, were often much more interested in what was going on in home: Thatcherism. When not at fine wine, port or black tie dining socieities one would find time to go to the picket line and learn about real politics.

“I became a bit restless with this country, politically and socially and I needed a change”

What else were you involved in at Durham? I was Sports Editor of Palatinate and was President of the Union So-

ciety at one point, and I was much more interested in politics and debating than being a journalist. Durham as it is now, there’s an interesting tension between students and other groups. The country when we were here, the mid 80s – it was the dominant feature of our world.

How were student opinions divided? There were NUS lefties who had a sort of rather predictable view on life and then there was the Rah community who didn’t give a stuff and operated as if this was literally an island politically as well as geographically. Then there were a few of us who were a bit of both or in between. I felt the NUS politics were a bit too Old Labour. Did you ever see yourself going on to teaching Law? It was the last thing that I’d imagined doing. I wasn’t very interested in Law at Durham. Personally I’m more interested in the law in action and the social purpose of the law and what it does to power relations. That’s the reason I stayed in South Africa after ‘94 when I was

We’re experts in Audit, Tax, Advisory and fish & chips Show us your expertise this February for your chance to win a prize! When trying to secure zero VAT rating for sales of hot takeaway foods for the fish frying industry, we didn’t just research fish and chips. We became experts in it. Now we’d like to see your expertise. Show us your special hobby, a skill you’ve mastered, or even your own unique way of doing something mundane. We want to know whatever it is that makes you an expert – the weird and the wonderful. Visit KPMGexpert.co.uk and send us a photo or video – the most original and imaginative entries could win Amazon vouchers, an iPad mini, or a £1,000 travel voucher! And if being an expert is your thing, you can also find out about our graduate opportunities. KPMGexpert.co.uk

supposed to come back. By then I had a reasonable career in the bar and my clerk took a fairly dim view [involving a flurry of expletives]. I gave up, like Jayne did, a good career here, in the UK, but it’s a good thing to do in life, you learn a lot about yourself when you change country. I stayed on in South Africa because they were going to write the constitution. From a legal and political perspective this was fascinating. I got a job in an NGO to monitor politics and set up a new programme to watch politics. It was great to be so close to that process, and were one to be immodest, to say there were a few little fingerprints on that constitution. To see a document and to be able to carry it around – a social contract for a country that went through and is going through an extraordinary and very difficult transition – was very special. Any advice that you’d want to give to Durham students? I’d say first of all if you’re doing a Law degree, in my view, you’ve made a bad choice. You should do Law later – it’s a minor regret of

mine. Traditional rote Law doesn’t teach you much; it’s more of a vocation – it was taught in a very conventional way, if it was taught in a different way this might not be the case.

“there are enormous opportunities to do law in many different contexts”

Secondly, I’d say it’s a great profession and I miss cross-examination – the smell of blood as you circle a witness. My last point would be that there are lots of different ways of being a lawyer – I’ve been an NGO Lawyer, I set up a law centre on whistleblowing and Freedom of Information, I’ve been a consultant as a lawyer and now, amazingly, I am a teacher. There are enormous opportunities to do law in many different contexts. The law is everywhere and there are a huge range of things to do – it should not be seen as just one profession.

© 2014 KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, is a subsidiary of KPMG Europe LLP and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative, a Swiss entity. The KPMG name, logo and “cutting through complexity” are registered trademarks or trademarks of KPMG International.

ANC for their election.

Ben Hamer


10

SciTech Reader’s Scigest A QUICK LOOK AT SCIENCE

HOT WHEELS Good news for Bradley Wiggins; the fastest cyclists are the most good looking, according to a study by evolutionary biologist Erik Postma. He conducted a survey in which 816 women and men rated the attractiveness of 80 cyclists taking part in the 2012 Tour de France. The eight best performers scored 25 percent higher on average than the eight worst performers. Postma suggested that an attractive face signals good endurance which was vital in the past when males would hunt to provide food for the family. GOODBiPod

Sales of Apple’s iPod have dropped by over a half compared to last year – a new extreme in a sales decrease that has been occurring since 2009. Apple has attributed the decline to new technologies such as smart phones and streaming services such as Spotify - technologies that include Apple’s own iPhone, which sold 51 million copies over the Christmas period, compared to a paltry 6 million iPod sales. With no new designs being released since 2012, it may soon be the end of the renowned MP3 player.

www.palatinate.org.uk

Durham department gains Juno award Joshua Stocco

The Physics Department has just been awarded Juno Practitioner status. Project Juno is a scheme run by the Institute of Physics (IOP) to recognise departments that can demonstrate they’ve taken action to address the under-representation of women in university Physics. The three levels of Juno awards are: Supporter, Practitioner, and Champion. Our award of Practitioner means that we have been able to demonstrate qualitatively and quantitatively that we are working towards achieving Champion status. In the academic year 2010/11 the percentage of male Physics undergraduates was 82.6%; females made up 17.4%. This increased slightly

the next year to 80.7% male and 19.3% female, bringing us closer to the meagre national average of 20%, with a pitiful 7% as the national average for senior female academics in Physics. In a recent interview with Palatinate, Dr. Alistair Edge, who has been instrumental in the Physics department’s acquisition of this award, explains that the focus of the award is to encourage more women to follow the academic path to achieving a senior role within the department. The statistics show that the number of women staying on to do doctorates after their undergraduate studies is extremely disproportionate to the number of men that do so. This is particularly noticeable in the Department of Psychology where they have a heavy majority of female undergraduates and yet the

NO LAUGHING MATTER

Comedians tend to have high levels of psychotic traits, according to recent research. Along with a control group of those in non-creative jobs, over 500 comedians completed an online questionnaire devised to test four personality aspects including unusual experiences, distractibility, introvertism and impulsive behaviour. Comedians scored highly on all of these aspects relative to the control group and were found to be particularly introverted and depressive or, conversely, extroverted with manic-like attributes.

Thursday 13th February 2014 | PALATINATE

Scientists are mostly male; Project Juno aims to reduce this gender imbalance Photograph: Institute of Physics website

team of senior staff is seriously male dominated. Dr. Edge said that too often young women misguidedly believe that after graduation they have the option of either a career in science or a family.

The number of women staying on to do doctorates is extremely disproportional to the number of men that do so

He went on to explain that it can be especially hard to juggle family life and a science career, particularly when one might have to spend a week away from home to go and use an observatory in Chile. He said that options to combat this attitude may include providing and paying for a postdoctoral student to continue the work of someone whilst they are on maternity leave, ensuring that they don’t fall behind the rest of the academic community. Another option is to subsidise childcare to ensure that someone with a family could attend regular evening or weekend conferences integral to their job. However, Dr. Edge also assured that there are no quotas and that “positive” discrimination, whereby women are more likely to receive job or studentship offers because they are from an under-represented group, does not exist here; every applicant for a job in the department is considered on his or her own merits. This is reflected in the statistics, which show that the proportion of applicants that are accepted is roughly the same for men and for women.

Then again, there is a rule that stipulates that whenever a board convenes there must be at least one woman amongst them. He says that this can cause some issues; with there being too much work to divide between too few women, the relevant board may have to contain a female academic from another department who might not be best suited to the role. Third year Physics student Rhian Jones says: “From a young age we are shown countless examples of brilliant physicists and they are all male. If we were shown more female faces in physics it might encourage more girls to take an interest.” Surely this is the best way that we can encourage more female undergraduates to join our department. With female under-representation being such a widespread national issue, it boils down to ensuring that, when prospective female students come to look around the department or read the prospective student literature, they see that there are plenty of other women here.

“If we were shown more female faces in physics it might encourage more girls to take an interest”

The department clearly has a long way to go to achieve gender equality but hopefully this award, along with the recent appointment within the University of Dean of Equality and Diversity, indicates that we are on the right path.

Imminent deadlines? First read this article about procrastination... Bekkie Morrell

If you are reading this because you have just finished your formative essay (two weeks before the deadline) and you fancied a break, chances are you are not a procrastinator. If, however, you’ve just finished cleaning the fridge and will then go on to find out whom your cousins, best friends and brother are dating on Facebook before starting a summative essay due in for tomorrow, you are a procrastinator. According to Madhan et al, procrastination is defined as “a trait or behavioural disposition to postpone or delay performing a task or making decisions” and statistics show that

95 per cent of college and university students will procrastinate throughout their studies, with half of these people suffering consistent procrastination problems. Who is more likely to procrastinate? It has been determined that there is no difference in procrastination levels between the genders; on average, males and females are guilty of the same amount of procrastination. The causes of procrastination are numerous and include boredom, distractibility, impulsiveness, thrillseeking, skill deficit and depression as well as overestimation of time left to perform tasks and of future motivational states, underestimation of time required to complete tasks, belief that working when not in the

mood to work is detrimental and disorganisation. Procrastination forms a spiral known as the appraisal-anxietyavoidance model for procrastination. First, the procrastinator appraises a given task and determines the task is too difficult and not something that they want to do, but something that they are being forced to do. Anxiety is caused when one thinks about performing the task and is dispelled when one avoids doing it. The temporal theory found that academic tasks are more aversive, threatening or difficult and that avoiding these tasks relieves more anxiety than for other tasks; academic tasks are more likely to be avoided than non-academic life routines. This often causes students to en-

gage in behaviours that don’t correspond to their priorities. Research has found that academic procrastination is not inherited. However, in certain cultures this form of procrastination may be less common. Life procrastination, on the other hand, is inherited through your home environment - you either observed your parents’ procrastination to such an extent that it motivated you to procrastinate less, or you adopted their tarrying behaviour. So is it better to procrastinate? Fortunately research has shown that procrastination won’t necessarily affect academic performance, despite procrastinators being found to be more disorganised; in the study, adept students maximised the effec-

tiveness of their study time through a carefully orchestrated cycle of procrastination and cramming. Such procrastinators can work under pressure for an extended period of time during which all of their resources are focused on one goal. If you are concerned about your extent of procrastination, fear not - it plateaus in the early twenties then declines with age until the sixties. So if you are hurriedly trying to complete a summative tonight whilst telling yourself “it won’t happen again”, it probably will, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will fail. On that note, if you’re in the Bill Bryson tonight, good luck - I will be there as soon as I have finished writing this article, to complete a lab report due in for tomorrow.


PALATINATE | Thursday 13th February 2014

11

SciTech

www.palatinate.org.uk

Stephen Hawking offers radical new black hole theory Alistair Madden In a recent paper published online, Steven Hawking has suggested that there are no black holes. Of course, Hawking did not mean that these objects don’t exist (there is strong evidence for one at the centre of our galaxy after all) but rather that we should stop thinking of them as an object that can trap all other objects that get near enough. Firstly, a caution: the physics in this article relates to the very forefront of our understanding of the universe. Some of the greatest scientific minds continue to work on black holes, endeavouring to understand them on terms that agree with major theories of physics. Black holes have always been fascinating objects to study. Their immense gravitational pull compacts anything that crosses their event horizon (essentially a point beyond which nothing can escape – not even light). This image of a black hole was created by Karl Schwarzchild in 1916 by applying Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. In this case, as any material entering the black hole crosses the event

horizon, it is compressed into a single point, known as a singularity, at the centre of the black hole, without noticing any change during the process. But this is worrying, as in order to study the singularity, two incompatible theories are needed: general relativity and quantum mechanics. Steven Hawking suggested in 1974 that black holes could evaporate by assessing the situation using both quantum mechanics and general relativity. By applying quantum mechanics at the event horizon, it appears that black holes would create and emit two energetic particles, one of which falls into the black hole.

Hawking comes to the conclusion that the event horizon is not fixed but changes in time

This process decreases the mass of the black hole and the radiation produced by means of these particles

is known as Hawking radiation. As always, however, there is a problem with this model. If the black hole is left alone, it can radiate to nothing. In this case the information about the particles inside the black hole’s event horizon would be irrevocably lost. According to yet another physical theory, thermodynamics, this cannot be the case. The information must be retained in the emitted particles somehow, or our ideas on this matter are wrong. In 2012 Joseph Polchinski and colleagues furthered Hawking’s theory by imagining the scenario where the outbound radiation attained all of the information of the two particles. During this information exchange, the particle that fell into the black hole would gain considerable heat. They envisaged that a ring of fiery particles (affectionately referred to as a firewall) awaits any matter that dares to cross the line. This is worrying, as it flies in the face of a key observation made by general relativity that we saw earlier – an observer crossing the event horizon should not realise they have done so. In other words, the difference in temperature experienced by an inbound object, created by the im-

The enigma: an artist’s impression of a black hole Illustration: Dana Berry printing of information (required for Hawking’s 1974 theory to work) would be a clear indication of the edge of the event horizon. Hawking’s newest paper is a continuation of this problem. With an increased understanding of the way general relativity and quantum mechanics work together, Hawking comes to the conclusion that the event horizon is not fixed but changes in time. This means that matter is only trapped by a black hole for a finite length of time before the event hori-

zon shifts and the matter can escape. This avoids the need of the firewall of particles proposed by Joseph Polchinski and his team but at the same time it is a significant departure from Hawking’s 1974 theory. Without a further understanding of how quantum mechanics and general relativity work together, we cannot truly ascertain which situation is correct. All we can say for sure is that black holes may hold the key to advance our understanding of core physical concepts going forward.


12 www.palatinate.org.uk

Thursday 13th February 2014 | PALATINATE

Business & Economics

The state of the world economy

Five years on from the perils of the global financial crisis

money instead of pouring it into expansion. Non-financial companies in the UK have gone from depositing £76 billion at the end of 2008 to £419 billion in July 2013. For the recovery to continue in the UK, companies must be encouraged to use this storedup cash and future profit funds to expand and invest. This will create the jobs needed to put people back to work so that they can start spending again.

Richard Morgan

I t has been over five years since the drama on Wall Street created the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and still the world is fighting to bring capitalism back to life. So what progress has been made?

The US Economy

The United States economy is on its way back thanks to the stabilisation of the investment centre of the world: Wall Street. This was done through the Troubled Asset Relief Programme and billion dollar bailouts along with an economic stimulus package that rescued crucial financial institutions. In 2013-2014, the US Federal Reserves began to slow its bond buying. This is an indication that the USA feels it can trust markets to create economic growth independently from government influence. The Fed has also reduced quantitative easing (pumping money into the economy to increase spending) and increased the cost of borrowing to bring things back to a more normal monetary policy.

Emerging Markets

Emerging markets five years on have had less success. They still hold large current account deficits (negative net sales abroad) and are heavily dependent on overseas investment. $12bn from emerging stock and bond funds have already been pulled out in 2014 according to fund tracker EPFR Global. Investors are starting to put their money back into established economies like the USA that are recovering and hold the prospect of higher interest rates.

Reforming Regulation

Unleash the bull - the symbol of improving market confidence

“For growth to be sustained, consumption and investment have to take the relay” Olivier Blanchard, chief economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Economic Growth

The key indicator that economies are recovering from the financial crisis is economic growth. With growth in production of goods and services come jobs, so the unemployment rate can be reduced, the social welfare bill can be lowered and people can begin spending again.

Olivier Blanchard, chief economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) states that there will be global economic growth of 3.7% in 2014 up from 3% last year. The UK economy is expected to grow by 2.4%; much more than Germany at just 1.6% expected growth and France at a meagre 0.9% growth. As Mr Blanchard points out, “for growth to be sustained, consumption and investment have to take the relay.” This gets the positive economic cycle going of increasing demand which encourages further supply. Experts like Jorgen Randers believe that this positive cycle cannot fully take off until unemployment rates are reduced.

Photograph: Herval on Flickr

2013 was a positive and relatively stable year for investors

in the FTSE 100 (the 100 largest companies on the London Stock Exchange) giving its investors a reason to stick around with gains in share value of around 10%. During the financial Armageddon of 2009, the Index (indicating the overall value change in shares in the stock market) was at 3,500. The index is now at 6,457.89, having peaked in May 2013 at 6,840.27. In the USA, the major stock market, the Dow Jones, increased by 26% in 2013, its biggest percentage rise for 18 years. It is currently at an index of 15,436.07. Stocks will continue to rise provided investor confidence is maintained and the economic recovery continues. Since the financial crisis, companies have been choosing to use their profits to issue dividends or simply saving the

employment have received increases in salaries. However real wages (accounting for inflation) have remained stagnant. Meanwhile full-time employment increases are lagging. This must change if consumption spending is to increase and spending on social security is to be reduced. Kate Shoesmith reports that what is most encouraging is that the new jobs are in marketing and sales, the industries busi-

nesses use to expand their enterprises. The Bank of England is reporting that there is increased demand and supply for borrowing. The news that more Britons are becoming homeowners is great news for families. However, Sarah O’Connor of the Financial Times argues that the greater percentage of loans that are being approved is concerning, considering that lending to sub-prime mortgagors

Stock Markets

After the financial crisis, a myriad of changes to legislation were enacted in jurisdictions across the world to prevent excessive risk taking from the big financial players. Across Europe, law firms are being set the task of advising companies on compliancy standards and regulation laws such as Basel III on regulating the capital and liquidity of companies. Dangerous financial instruments like derivatives that involve betting on the future of a security like a stock or bond have also been regulated to prevent unruly risk.

“Derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction” Warren Buffet

Over five years on, and still too many people find themselves without work. It would be inconsiderate to those still affected by the financial crisis to proclaim the world has fully recovered. Let us hope those currently out of work will have something to cheer about in 2014.

We are coming back - Britain is rising from the ashes of the financial crisis Richard Morgan

There are encouraging reports from the property market that mortgage demand is increasing at its highest rate since the financial crisis began. Demand is growing due to offers from lenders and the government’s Help to Buy scheme. This enables people who can only pay a small deposit to have

their mortgage guaranteed by the government. Spencer Dale, the Bank of England’s Chief Economist, has stated that the result of the improvement in the housing market will be increased economic activity in terms of construction and building. In the British labour market, reports from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation reveal that UK companies are demanding more part-time staff and that those in full-time

was a key cause of the financial crisis of 2008. Economists like Robert Wood of Berenberg are concerned that the Help to Buy scheme is allowing too many people to borrow which may cause another housing market bubble. The impact of more lending seems small considering there is only an annual 1% increase in net mortgage lending. From 2001 to 2007 it was between 10-15% each year.


PALATINATE | Thursday 13th February 2014

@PalatinatePol

13

Politics

www.palatinate.org.uk

President Barack Obama delivering SOTU Photograph: Peter Souza/EXOP

State of the Union: necessary and expedient Siena Morrell In last week’s State of the Union address, Barack Obama presented a humble but positive condition of the nation to a joint session of Congress, focusing on the economic gains achieved during the past year. The President outlined his legislative agenda for the year ahead, of particular importance given the upcoming mid-term elections in November. As expected, the economy was the primary focus of Obama’s speech, since polls indicate the economy has been voters’ top priority since last summer. The President asserted the significance of closing the income inequality gap, by ensuring everyone could aspire to rising income through “ladders of opportunity.” This evocation of the American dream was furthered by claims of the lowest unem-

ployment rate in over five years, and recognition of a “rebounding housing market.” However, the President failed to acknowledge the evidence indicating the lowest labour force participation statistics since 1978. Obama made clear his preparedness to use executive action to streamline bureaucratic processes in infrastructure projects, and increasing the minimum wage for contracted federal workers. If passed, these measures would facilitate growth and job creation, though it is unlikely that the Republicans would pass such legislation in an election year. With millions of Americans out of work or struggling to keep up with rising living costs, the promotion of recovery remains a distant prospect. In a speech characterised by its defiant tone, Obama criticised the Republicans responsible for the government shutdown in October. He

reiterated his commitment to “making Washington work better”, and declared that when Congress was slow to legislate, they were “not doing right by the American people.” By emphasizing unilateral action, the President acknowledged his failure to fulfil promises to reverse Washington’s hyper-partisanship. Despite a gloomy outlook for domestic reform, with limited new policy measures, Obama painted a more positive picture of American foreign policy. He stressed the end of the war in Afghanistan was indicative of the United States moving away from a “permanent war footing”; however the President ignored the possible deal with Afghan President Hamid Karzai which commits a 10,000-strong residual force to remain in Afghanistan for at least three years. Obama’s restated commitment to the closing of Guantanamo

Bay detention camp drew applause from both parties, though he failed to indicate any follow-up plan in the address. The NSA Surveillance scandal, which rocked the world in summer 2013, was granted just a sentence in the speech, indicating an almost complete dismissal of the issue in its entirety. However, the President affirmed the importance of “public confidence” in such programs, and indicated a vague commitment to reforming measures. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (RWash.), who delivered the Republican response to the Address, painted a moderate picture. The Republicans’ choice to use Rodgers presents a softer image, and an attempt to attract more votes from women in an election year. In a painfully clichéd delivery, with a compassionate emphasis on the family, Rodgers criticised the President

for offering big government solutions. “The true state of the union lies in your heart, and in your home,” Rodgers declared. Obama largely avoided provocative policies to rile the GOP, with little emphasis on abortion, gun control and immigration. But, the potential for the President to bypass congress led Republican Michele Bachmann, the ‘Queen of the Tea Party’, to call for the President to be sued in the courts, stating, “You don’t make laws without going through the United States Congress. That’s not our system of government and he needs to be held accountable for that.” Though Obama’s proposed legislation is likely to be less confrontational than the Republicans predict, if the Democrats hope to retain control over the Senate in the mid-term elections, it is essential for the President to fulfil his promises of a “year of action.”

on the Prime Minister to take part in the international UN effort to provide asylum to 30,000 Syrian refugees. 25 signatories, including representatives of Amnesty International UK, Oxfam, Muslim Aid and the Refugee Council, pointed out the double standard of expecting impoverished border-nations like Lebanon to take people in, while refusing to do so here. Public opinion has probably curtailed efforts to drag David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May away from the braying right wing of their party into a token moral stance. A recent YouGov poll suggested that 47% of Britons were opposed to admitting Syrian refugees, although 39% were open to the proposal. To some extent, the issue has split down partisan lines with opposition flooding in from supporters of UKIP and the Conservatives and agreement from those backing the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Green Party. Cameron and May have probably helped to shift the parameters

of immigration discourse to the right through appeals to would-be UKIP defectors over Bulgarian and Romanian immigration. A series of targets and promises to lower net immigration have produced a somewhat compromised Tory position, while Labour has been pressing for admission of Syrian refugees. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper remarked that it would be “shameful” for the UK to ignore the crisis. Cooper may well have been part of the retinue of MPs and activists calling for us to provide sanctuary, but her assessment of the situation is something of an auxesis. Though often quicker to find the moral high ground over Syria than the Conservatives, Labour have been equally quick to claim a bloated moral authority too. In September, Douglas Alexander suggested that the Labour-triggered parliamentary vote regarding a possible intervention helped to avert a military strike. In some ways, Labour are as much a part of the problem as a part

of the solution. Ed Miliband and his party consistently fail to articulate a coherent alternative to the coalition’s fiscal policy, as British political parties elide into one another. Facing objections to Syrian refugees, partly because of their different culture and largely because of their cost to the state, we are painfully reminded that our political system offers us a unilateral socioeconomic vision of insular austerity. This vision provides the parameters for political debate in contemporary British politics. Syria has been a self-interested venture for the west from the start; a kind of distorting mirror wherein we hope to vainly contemplate our best selves. What kind of a people, what kind of a party, what kind of a nation, does what we do in Syria show us to be? At worst, what can we get out of Syria? Self-scrutiny is all very well of course but what is notable in these formulations is that what is good for the Syrian people is not the first consideration. This was exemplified

by Barack Obama’s ‘red line’ theatrics last September; the great orator puffing up his chest, using the case for Syrian intervention to promote his country’s, his party’s and his own nobility. While we primp and posture, there are people who are living and dying behind that mirror in a ceaseless flux of reported atrocity. The Guardian estimates that there are have been over two million refugees displaced by the war so far, most of them innocent people immured in the violence of two morally questionable forces. If this particular concession is a miniscule triumph for basic decency, it is clearly not enough. Compare our piecemeal commitment with that of Germany, who will offer refuge to 10,000 displaced Syrians. That we should be caught up in economic debate about immigration, while helpless people are at risk of continued violence and exploitation, betrays the self-interestedness of a country which has followed its transatlantic partner into the Middle East as a prospector.

Syrian refugees: through the looking glass

Ollie Collard The UK is expected to take in up to 500 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees - predominantly women and children - over the next year, as civil war continues to devastate the country. The government’s announcement comes after a recent intensification in anti-immigration rhetoric and the commencement of Syrian peace talks in Geneva, where diplomats face the difficult task of guiding the two warring sides out of the minefield of conflict and onto some common ground. If the backlash of public opinion in the USA and the UK helped to draw back the ominous helping hand that hovered above Syria at the start of September, then this time, the activism of a few dedicated campaigners has swayed a cavilling Home Department to empty its pockets. A letter published in the Independent on 18th January called


14

Comment

Thursday 13th February 2014| PALATINATE

www.palatinate.org.uk

The male identity crisis

Simon says it is time to confront the discourse surrounding ‘lad culture’ and to redefine the male university student Simon Forest

Nowadays we hear a lot about ‘lad culture’ at Britain’s universities. This culture is, we are told, one of unrestrained drinking, academic underachievement and, most importantly of all, pervasive sexism. Despite widespread alarm in the media, there has been little critical attention paid to the phenomenon with concern focusing instead on how widespread the issue is. For those interested in its extent, I recommend reading the NUS report, “That’s What She Said”, which makes for fascinating, if not particularly cheery, reading.

The problem of the ‘uni lad’ is fast becoming the main signifier of student masculinity

However, with regards to this article, the exact extent of ‘lad culture’ is in a sense irrelevant; the report makes it very clear that it has had a significant impact upon students’ experiences at university. It seems that in a discourse on gender relations the concept of ‘lad culture’ is here to stay. Besides, due to media coverage, this image of the ‘uni lad’ is becoming increasingly associated with how the outside world views university culture and particularly male students. With this in mind it seems that an exploration of masculinity and ‘lad culture’ might be prof-

itable and provide new insights on the issue. Firstly, there is no such thing as the ‘uni lad’. In reality people tend to be more complicated than twodimensional types. ‘Laddism’ is just one of many different models of masculinity which are drawn on to varying degrees to help construct personal identity in relations to groups, both real and imagined. This means that ultimately most men, and probably a significant number of women, would fall somewhere on a ‘lad spectrum’, ranging from the occasional use of “that’s what she said” to a much fuller participation in a culture of drinking and sexism. My point here is not to try and draw a line, to separate a harmless ‘lad’ from a dangerous sexual predator, but instead to try and show that these are individuals with thoughts, feelings and values and that we need to try and understand them rather than simply condemning them. In many ways this makes the problem more worrisome as we cannot simply dismiss them as somehow fundamentally different from others, but as being close - sometimes uncomfortably so - to our own experience. However, we also need to appreciate that emphasising a single ‘lad’ stereotype may be too simplistic in helping us to understand the complex dynamics at play in the creation of individual identity. With this in mind it is important to note that the problem of the ‘uni lad’ is fast becoming the main signifier of student masculinity in popular culture. This is not to suggest that ‘lads’ are the only models of masculinity or even the most common ones, but simply that they are becoming the most visible. This can lead to articles which often seem to carry insinuations that all male students are

someh o w complicit in this culture and, as a man, my natural reaction to such articles is to dismiss them as hyper-

Photograph: John Picken

Rugby players are traditionally pinpointed as the archetype of ‘uni lads’ Photograph: Emma Werner bolic. It is easy to be adamant that we, the ‘decent men’, are not part of the problem and should not be tarred with the same brush as these ‘lads’. However, this does not change two facts: one, we are being tarred with the same brush whether it is fair or not; and two, ‘laddism’ is an element of masculinity even if that makes us uncomfortable. I should stress this does not mean that it is an element of the identity of every male, just that it is one element in a vast and evolving cultural and imaginative concept which acts as a reference point for most men in forming their identities. As I have already said, the natural response of many men, and one of which I am certainly guilty, is to view articles on ‘lad culture’ as inapplicable to them. They are sure, and in many cases justifiably, that they are not part of the problem. However, the two facts above should make us think again about whether our engagement with the issue should end there. Firstly, the increasing media attention to this phenomenon is creating an image of male students; an image which reflects negatively on and influences reactions to all of us, regardless of our own actions. Clearly this is not a desirable situation for fellow male students. Secondly, we have a privileged position to influence the culture of male university students because, as men, we have greater and more straightforward access to the cultural resource, masculinity (or masculinities as is the preferred term in more academic discussions of gen-

der). With this in mind, I have found it useful to move beyond the simple assertion that “I am not part of the problem” and recognise the fact that I may have the potential to be part of the solution.

We must be careful not to fall into the trap of becoming ‘gentlemen’

As we have already seen ‘lads’ are not actually mindless stereotypes and it is possible that, if provided with more models of masculinity to draw upon and placed in a more open homosocial environment, they may construct their personal identities and values quite differently to the ways they currently do so. As male students we should direct our energies to strengthening alternative cultures which are not ‘laddish’ and making them more visible. As a side note, we must be careful not to fall into the trap of becoming ‘gentlemen’. We should not try and resuscitate a patronising and ‘chivalric’ attitude towards women which revolves around equally sexist attitudes. Instead we must construct

masculinities which engage with women as equals and individuals who are not solely defined by their gender (just as surely we wish not to be solely defined by our gender). I do not know precisely what form these masculinities should take, but the key is to open a debate. For a long time gender debates were considered almost synonymous with women’s issues. Although the academic world has begun increasingly to explore masculine experience and identity, sadly this has not trickled down into society at large, and discussions between men about what masculinity means are not common and it is perhaps unfortunate that the NUS report did not consult any students who identified as male on the issue. The point of this article is twofold. The first has been to present an individual male opinion on ‘lad culture’ and to suggest some ways in which a more complex appreciation of the phenomenon may provide us with solutions to the issue. The second is to call for a broader debate within the university on issues of masculinity which would contribute to the welfare of all university students, help counter the unpleasant culture in which many, particularly women, find themselves, and provide men with new insights and resources in the construction of their own masculine identities.

P

Have a different opinion? Share it with us by emailing comment@ palatinate.org.uk


PALATINATE | Thursday 13th February 2014

15

Comment

www.palatinate.org.uk

Purple tomatoes: a waste of time? Patrick Brennan Early January saw news of a new kind of genetically modified tomato heading to our shores from Canada. This variety has been engineered by scientists from the University of Norwich to include a blue pigment found naturally in blueberries, the addition of which turns the tomato purple. The pigment, known as anthocyanin, has numerous health benefits, and has even been shown to halt cancer growth in animal tests. But could you ever be persuaded to eat a genetically modified purple tomato? Even in the knowledge that eating it would be perfectly safe for you and for the environment? GM technology has never been far from controversy. Europe is especially fearful of the subject, with a recent survey showing that only one in four Europeans is ‘for’ genetically modified crops. It is this attitude that led Professor Cathie Martin, developer of the purple tomato, to carry her work out in Canada, where regulations are less oppressive. It is hardly surprising that this attitude exists, especially with a title as ominous as ‘genetic modifi-

cation’. Genetics are, of course, the fundamental code determining an organism’s entire being. In the eyes of many, one may as well name it ‘personality re-writing’ or even ‘soul-tampering’. However, this public perception of GM technology is undeserved, harmful, and is blinding us to what is in fact a very safe and useful technology. Far from changing an organism’s entire being, genetic modification simply takes an existing species and allows it to exhibit an extra desired trait, usually with aims to increase crop yield or provide extra nut r ients. Eati n g a GM vegetable is no more dangerous to humans than eating the original, whilst also eating a little of whatever chemical the GM variety produces. In the case of our new friend the purple tomato, eating this GM variety is no more dangerous than eating a regular tomato whilst simultaneously drinking some blueberry juice. This does, however, raise a very valid issue. Why invest thousands in producing a tomato with the health

benefits of a blueberry, when it is much cheaper to simply persuade people to eat more blueberries? The fact of the matter is this: there is no gap in the food market for a purple tomato, no matter how healthy it is. The purple tomato is a terrible mascot for GM technology, and all its potential, simply because it serves no purpose. No one has ever asked for a healthier tomato – they are already pretty healthy

as they are. If GM technology is to gain the reputation it deserves, the general public must be alerted to the examples of genetic modification that have provided, or could provide, solutions to world issues. A good example is the ‘Golden Rice’ project, in which biologists engineered rice plants to contain beta carotene, a

molecule which is converted into vitamin A in the body. An estimated 670,000 children die every year from vitamin A deficiency; importing vitamin A into their rice crop provides an effective solution. Golden Rice perfectly showcases GM technology‘s potential to save millions of lives. Research is also being carried out, in Durham among many other institutions, into the effects of genetic modification on oil-producing crops for use in the biofuel industry. W i t h crude oil reser ves dwindling, muc h emph asis is being placed on plant-derived Illustration: fuels as a Patrick Brennan clean renewable alternative, and GM technology allows for drastic improvements in the production rates of biofuel products such as triglycerides and ethanol. In this case, GM technology is a powerful tool for both study and production: it can be used to deter-

mine which reactions are important in a plant’s oil production pathway. By engineering different plant strains that either over-express or under-express certain enzymes and then measuring yield in each, it can be determined which enzymes are most crucial to bio-oil production. This in turn allows scientists to pinpoint exactly what modifications are needed in order for new, higher yielding varieties to be created. In a simple case, if an enzyme’s presence means that less oil is produced, one can simply mutate the gene that codes for this enzyme, thus causing a non-functional enzyme to be present in the plant, and resulting in higher oil yield. It is in fields of research like this that GM technology really starts to show its true potential. Far from merely changing the colour of fruit and vegetables, GM technology provides answers to problems that will have to be faced over the coming decades, often in cases where there simply is no alternative method. If GM is to be allowed to succeed, it must be viewed in a much better light by the wider world, and for this to be the case the public must be provided with a good GM icon - an example which sums up all that is good about this incredible technology - rather than a purple gimmick with no purpose or potential.

The author deplored the supposed hypocrisy of those concerned over Duggan’s death whilst society demands a “strong response to knife and gun crime and gang violence” all the while forgetting that shooting an unarmed man is gun crime. Mark Duggan’s death should not be glossed over as just an honest mistake. This controversy illustrates a disturbing trend in our attitude towards policing and punishment: that it is acceptable to bend the rules when it comes to dealing with criminals. We give gangsters jail time, not death sentences. The idea that Duggan’s criminal history somehow takes the edge off his shooting goes against the centuries of effort spent building up a just legal system in this country. The fact that many people have this mind-set is certainly cause for

concern over how fair the jury was to deem the killing lawful. Eight of those ten men and women in court somehow decided that the member of the armed response unit who shot the unarmed Duggan genuinely believed he was a threat. British criminal courts only convict when guilt is beyond reasonable doubt; so the jury did not just believe it was possible that this officer thought Duggan was armed, but that he had to think so. Given that the gun was found several metres away on the other side of a fence, it is beggar’s belief that the officer in question was totally justified in shooting – not just once, but twice. Whether we like it or not, our legal system can make mistakes, and accepting jury verdicts as indisputable truth is a dangerous path to go down. Even if we forgive the police’s ac-

tions at the very moment of Duggan’s death, their behaviour afterwards is even more cause for concern. Both the officers involved and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) flagrantly backtracked and U-turned on their story, like a child that knows it’s been naughty and tries to cover its tracks anyway. They initially told the media that he had the gun in his hand and fired at them - and even briefly tried to have us believe that he managed to shoot an officer, before admitting it was a stray round that had lodged itself into one officer’s radio. After the shooting, police did not undertake any internal review, and failed to question the officers involved in the shooting. Not only that, but those very officers then refused to be interviewed by the IPCC. This is not the behaviour of a trustworthy force out only to protect citizens;

this is the behaviour of a crooked institution trying desperately to protect itself. That there have been so few fatal mistakes by police is by no means evidence in favour of our bobbies. For every Mark Duggan, Ian Tomlinson and Jean Charles de Menezes that makes it onto our front pages, how many more shady police practices go undiscovered? Of course, not the whole police force is riddled with such suspicious behaviour and murky characters. However, the few ‘bad eggs’ and unintentional errors should be wiped out quickly and with total impartiality. If we let this scandal slip past us just because a criminal has been wiped out of the picture, we lose yet another golden opportunity to reform our law enforcement for the better.

Mark Duggan’s death should not be glossed over Sam writes in response to Palatinate’s recent article “Mark Duggan: an imaginary martyr?” Sam CourtneyGuy

An article in the last Palatinate print edition discussed the controversy over Mark Duggan’s fatal shooting back in 2011, brought back into the media limelight recently when his killing was declared lawful after an inquiry. Some reasonable points were made: Duggan’s death being undeserved does not make him a good person, and making him into a martyr foolishly forgets his dark past as a violent thug. But this quickly turned into a tirade that is typical of the worrying acquiescence shown towards the police when it deals with ‘bad guys’ in bad ways.


16

Comment

www.palatinate.org.uk

Thursday 13th February 2014| PALATINATE

Michael Gove’s ongoing rampage against education Jade Azim

Michael Gove is perhaps one of the most contentious ministers in the cabinet. And that is saying something, considering...well, this cabinet. But it is true; Michael Gove has pretty much become a figure of deep contempt for teachers and students alike. Subsequently, certain demographics are far less likely to vote Conservative. It is little wonder that young people often look on at the Department for Education as a source of indifference and out-oftouch, elite policy makers. The Department for Education is perhaps a vital factor in the fact only 1 in 4 young people are registered to vote; students feel alienated when faced with headline after headline of Gove insisting that, “yes, [insert obscene policy here] is good for you!” It seems that these newspaper headlines on the Department for Education and Gove’s new endeavours

come once a fortnight, and recent stories have told of the huge slashes to sixth forms in favour of the controversial free schools set up with the Education Act in 2011, causing quite a stir, particularly when coupled with Gove calling for longer school days of 8 hours.

Free schools get £39,616 spent per head, while sixth form colleges get £4,000 per head

The decentralisation and, as perhaps hyperbole entails, privatisation of the school system with the introduction of Free Schools has been enough to cause contention in prior months, but the recent

Fracking hell! Ismay Milford

Following the summer’s fracking fiasco, the issue seemed to have all but simmered down, only to come bubbling back to the surface in recent weeks with the news that changes in legislation could see fracking happening beneath our very own hous-

data on the allocation of funding is so staggering that this new cycle of anger seems to be a loud and justified one. Free schools now have just 1,557 pupils enrolled but – and here is the provocative part – get £39,616 spent on them per head, contrasting the £4,000 spent on sixth form students, of whom there are more than 150,000 enrolled across 93 sixth form colleges. There is a long history of division in British education, particularly with regards to the differences between the state and private sector, but this recent statistic heralds another chasm in the machinery of e d-

ucation in this country. Michael Gove exacerbated it even further by defending his reforms with the statement, “When you visit a school in England standards are so high all round that you should not be able to tell whether it’s in the state sector or a fee-paying independent.” It is an odd statement to make, particularly after describing a “Berlin Wall” between the two sectors. It also highlights just how removed from reality this group of ministers seems to be. State schools, according to people that actually attend them – be it teachers or pupils – have faced major implications under austerity measures. This has been amidst a major shuffle in the academic agendas regarding the curriculum. Along with ideological reforms to A-Levels and GCSEs

es without our say-so. If such headline-grabbing claims force people to reconsider fracking then all the better, but this is more than a ‘not in my backyard’ debate. Fracking would be as much of a disaster for the “desolate North-East” (where nobody lives, just to clarify Lord Howell’s baffling statement) as anywhere else. Fracking is the process by which a mixture of water, sand and chemicals is injected into wells at high pressure to crack shale and release gas. This tops up our dwindling supply of fossil fuels, gives people jobs, kick-starts the economy, and is even ‘green’ (when compared to burning coal, if not much else). Or so some would have it. Unsurprisingly there are also a few drawbacks, primarily that the positive effects might not actually happen and the negative ones by far outweigh them. An understanding of the economy sufficient to predict whether fracking will indeed lower energy prices is not something we all possess; a fact that politicians seem all too willing to take advantage of. Thankfully some of those who do are speaking out. Former secretary of state for energy, Chris Huhne, (in the Guard-

ian) convincingly challenged Cameron’s “fracking fairytale”, explaining why shale gas in the UK would not prompt a drop in energy prices as it has in the US. As far as jobs are concerned the majority would be tied to the initial set-up of the wells, and would quickly cease to exist. Gas may be ‘greener’ than coal, but squeezing the earth dry is not a solution to a growing population’s need for viable and sustainable fuel. Research into the potentially catastrophic side-effects of fracking remains scarce (likely no coincidence), but certain implications require little more than common sense to understand. Energy companies are not required to disclose the chemicals used in fracking fluid, but many are confirmed carcinogens and toxins. Of the millions of gallons of fracking fluid required per fracture, typically less than half is recovered. The rest flows into groundwater. Which enters our water system. And grows the plants and feeds the livestock. That is, of course, if everything runs smoothly without any major mishaps. For those who cannot bear Daily Mail style, cancer-related speculations, you are in luck – the US has conveniently carried out a fracking test-run. Numerous reports of disease-ridden cattle and entire

Illustration: Dominic Chappard

Photograph: Public Exchange

to induce a more exam-based working env iron-

Gove is building the Berlin Wall, that divides state and private education, even higher

ment, his call for longer working days and huge slashes in funding – recent cuts have led to the shelving of vital English and Maths A-Level courses – have fuelled many questions concerning whether schools should be pushed to perform harder and under more arbitrary, ideological measures when conditions have become so austere. If Michael Gove sees this “Berlin Wall” dividing education in this country, he is certainly not Reagan yelling to “tear down this wall”, he is Khrushchev building it higher.

families’ severe allergic reactions in affected regions confirm concerns for the harmful nature of fracking’s dregs, which contains substances linked to infertility and birth defects. Settlement deals often seem to include a water filtering kit, or sometimes a gag order banning you from spreading nasty rumours concerning the companies that poisoned you. The arguments against fracking, according to energy minister Greg Barker, are based on ideology as opposed to science. But pumping chemicals into the ground for the benefit of multinational energy giants is a cowardly, short-term alternative to investing in renewable energy and waste reduction. Even if science could not confirm the irreversible, long-term consequences, ideology puts up a pretty good fight. The Church of England have asserted that opponents of fracking are like those who spread misinformation about the MMR vaccine. Apart from the the fact that the alternative to the vaccine is a measles epidemic, and the alternative to fracking is, well, not fracking. As is all too often the story in politics: short term greed is taking precedent over long term investment, and our withered planet and its future generations will be the ones to pay.


PALATINATE | Thursday 13th February 2014

17

College Sport Hatfield remain in control of football Premiership Hatfield continue to sit in poll position in the men’s football Premiership after stretching their winning streak to eight games in a row against Collingwood B. The current leaders went into the game expecting a comfortable win against bottom-side Collingwood, and that’s just what they got coming away 5-0 winners. The chase, however, is still very much on for Collingwood A who sit six points away in second, but with a game in hand. The reigning champions beat St Mary’s A 4-2 to keep the pressure on Hatfield. That loss pushed St Mary’s into a crowded mid-table, lying sixth and

just four points ahead of second-tobottom St Cuthbert’s A. The run-in to the end of the season for both Hatfield and Collingwood presents some tough challenges - in fact they are nearly identical.

Ask many Durham City students if they have ever travelled on the X1 to the University’s Stockton campus, and many of them will reply with a snigger and a firm ‘no’. It cannot be denied that there is a certain stigma attached with being a Queen’s Campus student, however despite the many differences between the two sites, there is one thing that unites them; the college sport competition. This week I spoke to John Snow senior sports officer Rhianne Barker to understand what college sport is like for Queen’s Campus students. I asked if playing in the college leagues helped with integration for Queen’s students with their counterparts from Durham City. “Yes and no.” said Barker. “Obviously playing in college leagues could help with integration but the issues and stigma attached to Queens Campus can spoil this.” Despite the extra difficulties faced by Queens Campus students in playing in the college leagues, participation in sport is still extremely high with 85% of John Snow students playing sports. The two colleges have 35 teams who have played in the college leagues so far this season; compared to the number of students that they have (approximately 2000) this is quite a low figure when compared

to Durham City colleges. However considering the extra effort required to play in the college leagues, the fact that there are this many is in itself remarkable. Alone, the round trip to Maiden Castle would be enough to put many students off. “Transport is a big issue, especially for weekend morning fixtures. Teams have had to be on a 7:30am bus to make 9am KOs at Maiden Castle and barely have time for a warm up.

Remaining Fixtures

Collingwood A: Grey A, John Snow A, Castle A, Hatfield A

Hatfield A: John Snow A, Castle A, Collingwood A, St Cuthbert’s A

Sport

www.palatinate.org.uk

Both sides still have to take on Castle, who lie in fourth, and John Snow, who lie in fifth. In what could be the championship-decider, the two sides are then due to meet on March 8th, which means that this title race could go right down to the wire. John Snow continue to push for a top four finish, beating close rivals Castle A 1-0. The win sees them lie just one point behind the Castlemen and with a game in hand on thirteen points after notching up their fourth win of the season. St Aidan’s have also continued their consistent season, recording a fifth win out of seven against Grey

COLLEGE POINTS TABLE

by Maddy Sears

P

for the latest sports news go to www.palatinate. org.uk

follow us @palatiSPORT A, 5-1. They could still challenge Collingwood in second place, as they sit just two points behind the runners-up spot. Hild Bede versus Stephenson finished 0-0; an unsurprising result considering both sides have won just two games this season, and still sit in potential relegation danger. St Chad’s, meanwhile, did a lot to ease their relegation fears by getting their first win of the season against fellow strugglers, St Cuthbert’s. The tense 3-2 win pushes Chad’s up to five points, leapfrogging Trevelyan and St Cuthbert’s in the process. Meanwhile in Division 1 it’s a much more open affair, with any of the top

1. Collingwood 1348 2. Hatfield 1267 3. Van Mildert 1179 4. Hild Bede 1132 5. St Cuthbert’s 987 6. Castle 963 7. Josephine Butler 908 8. Trevelyan 891 9. Grey 880 10. St Mary’s 875 11. St Aidan’s 867 12. Ustinov 640 13. Stephenson 617 14. St John’s 587 15. John Snow 483 16. St Chad’s 404 17. Staff 89

five teams still with a realistic chance of topping the table at the end of the season. Due to some sides having games in hand, it is still unclear how the season will pan out. The sides still in contention are: Van Mildert A, Collingwood E, Josephine Butler A, Hild Bede B and Ustinov A. At the other end of the table, things couldn’t be tighter with just two points seperating the bottom six teams. In Division 2 it appears to be a two horse race between Collingwood D and Josephine Butler B with four games remaining.

Why we should admire Stockton athletes

“It can be annoying having to travel to Durham to play what are considered home games” John Snow Senior Sports Officer, Rhianne Barker

This obviously puts our teams at a disadvantage. We have trouble with getting teams together for some sports, such as women’s football.” The John Snow sports officer was, however, not willing to be satisfied

with this fact, saying: “We can’t use student numbers as an excuse as we have approximately one thousand students in John Snow… bigger than some colleges in Durham City.” It is not just the quantity of Queen’s Campus students in the college leagues that should be admired, but also the quality of sport that they play. Of the 35 Queens Campus teams in the various leagues, 14 are in the Premiership with several top of the tree. “Snow have had really successful teams in many sports over the years” said Barker. “The facilities we have to train with here are better than what most colleges can get in Durham, especially rowing. “I suppose playing for a QC team could encourage our teams to become better to prove a point. There have been many changes to the college sport system to try and make things easier for Queen’s teams this year. Team Durham have tried to create more friendly scheduling, with fewer early kick-offs, and have introduced strict points deductions for Durham City teams who fail to make the journey for away matches against Stockton teams. In addition, the colleges themselves are trying to make things easier, with staff helping to provide

Queen’s Campus boasts excellent sporting facilities Photograph: Durham University

coaches or hiring external facilities for the students. However, there are still some improvements that could be made. “It can be annoying having to travel to and from Durham to play what are considered home games”, said Barker. “It would be great if Durham City colleges were more willing to travel to Queen’s Campus, the X1 isn’t that bad!” As a former college captain, I can appreciate the difficulties of trying to get a team out in the college leagues; I cannot imagine the extra effort and enthusiasm required for the far greater commitment Stockton ath-

letes make week in week. It does seem a shame that realistically Stockton colleges will never have a chance to win the overall college competition due to their geographical location- we must look into what can be done to allow them to be competitive. I hope that all Durham City students will respect those committed Stockton athletes for their participation in college sport. Maybe one day we should all brave the X1 and try to change our attitudes the Queen’s Campus and its students.


18

Sport Sport

Durham Saints go marching on in BUCS Tom DiMaio In a week dominated by headlines featuring American football, namely the Seattle Seahawks’ resounding win over the Denver Broncos to clinch their first Superbowl, it seems apt to mention the Durham Saints’ continuing success. Last weekend The Saints played host to the Newcastle Raiders in an important clash at the summit of the table. In the first fixture after the Christmas break, the home team made an understandably sluggish start, however recovered quickly and ran out very comfortable winners with a score of 65-13. This victory ensured that the Saints returned to the top of BUCS North Eastern League with a game in hand over their closest rivals. Five victories from their first five games ensures that a win this weekend against 3rd placed team, Leeds Metropolitan Carnegie, will cement the Durham team in pole position for the conference title. Indeed, The Saints have already recorded a 57-9 victory over 2nd placed Sunderland earlier in the season. Palatinate reported that “it was the highest points score by the Saints in any game in their history, and also the widest margin of victory ever,” two records that have been repeatedly broken this season. The club has now been running for over six years and this is one of the best chances the team has had to follow in the Seahawks’ footsteps of winning silverware. With three difficult away games before the end of the season, this task will be difficult, but remains eminently achievable for an impressive Saints side.

Saints’ results so far... 59-7 Win v Sunderland 14-12 Win v Northumbria 49-7 Win v Hull 62-2 Win v Teesside 65-13 Win v Newcastle Remaining Fixtures February 16th Bradford (away)

February 23rd Huddersfield (away)

Thursday 13th February 2014 | PALATINATE

www.palatinate.org.uk

Celebrations begin as season closes

Palatinates begin to look ahead towards latter stages in BUCS Women’s Football

Men’s Football

1st XI winners (Premier North)

1st XI 3rd (Premier North) 2nd XI runners-up (Northern 3B)

Women’s club captain Anna Faux reflected on an excellent season for DUWAFC. Last year, the 1st XI came 3rd and a “had a much more up and down season.” Thankfully, this year “has been much more straightforward.” “I would say this year we have just gelled really well as a team” said Faux. “Both on and off the pitch we all get on really well and we have had some great new players come in this year that have made a massive difference. “Everyone gives their all every game and really works for each other, we had a new coach come in this season too who has helped contribute massively.” As for the biggest highlight so far, in Faux’s opinion it would have to be “going to Loughborough with eleven fit players and coming away with a 4-0 win, everyone worked so hard for the whole 90 minutes.”

Club captain Kyri Pittalis: “It was always going to be a completely different experience in the BUCS Northern Premier. “In terms of success, it says a huge amount about how far we’ve come in the past four years to say that we’re a little disappointed to only come 3rd. “Three promotions in the past three years have ensured we hold very high standards for ourselves.” One of the top moments for the club was the 1st XI’s 8-0 defeat to Northumbria at home. However, Pittalis argues “doing the double over Loughborough, last year’s BUCS champions, was most certainly the highlight of the season so far. “To be 2-1 down with eight minutes to go against a team of Loughborough’s quality and then to go on and win 3-2 in the dying minutes was an incredible achievement. “Mike King’s hat-trick against Northumbria and Jonny Giles’ 30 yard winner against Hallam meanwhile were certainly individual highlights.” Looking forward, DUAFC are keen not to lose any momentum before the first round of the cup, which took place yesterday.

Women’s Rugby Union

by Heather Kerr

1st XV runners-up (Premier North)

On top form: Durham’s women footballers have excelled this season Photograph: Caspian James

Wednesday’s emphatic 22-5 win over Newcastle University secured DUWRFC’s 1st XV second place in the Northern Premiership for the third year running ahead of Loughborough. This season’s league has seen a number of strong victories for the Palatinates, including a notable win over league winners Leeds Met 22-10. 1st team captain Laura Hind told Palatinate: “We started the season unsure what to expect. “With a lot of good teams in the league it was never going to be an easy season. “I think we’ve lived up to any expectations we had, finishing in second again, which is a huge achievement. “The squad has really come together in some extremely tough matches with a lot of new faces and some experienced players. “I hope we can keep it going through to the cup and sevens”.

Hockey

Tennis

Men’s 1st XI winners (Premier North) Men’s 2nd XI winners (Northern 1A) Women’s 1st XI 3rd (Premier North) Women’s 2nd XI winners (Northern 1A)

Women’s 1st winners (Premier North) This season has seen consistent performances from all of Durham University’s tennis teams. The 1st team beat their fellow Palatinates in the 2nd team in their final league game of the season 8-4 to place them 1st and 3rd in the Northern Premier League, respectively. The women’s 3rds have also topped their league as they convincingly dispatched Leeds Metropolitan 3rds 12-0. The men’s 1st team are currently top, though a runners-up spot is most likely with Stirling having games in hand.

The top two men’s teams for DUHC have had a sensational season so far. Last week both the 1sts and 2nds were crowned champions of their respective leagues. It’s testament to the depth of talent at DUHC that two teams can compete at such a high level. There are still some fixtures yet to play for the 1st team but their undefeated record has allowed the boys to impressively secure the top spot with two games to go. With cup competitions coming in a few weeks time, DUHC must surely be the ones to beat. The women meanwhile may be a little disappointed to finish in 3rd position after winning the title last year. Silverware however, may still be up for grabs for the women’s 1sts however with the upcoming cup competitions.

Men’s Badminton

Men’s 1st winners (Northern 2B) Men’s 2nd winners (Northern 4B) The men’s 1sts and 2nds have won both their leagues with games to spare in what is according to head of Team Durham Peter Warburton “one of their most successful years on record.” The 1st team won 8-0 whilst the 2nds defeated second in the table Northumbria 2nds 6-2.


PALATINATE | Thursday 13th February 2014

PRESIDENT’S COLUMN

19

Sport

www.palatinate.org.uk

PRESIDENT APPLICATIONS Team Durham President applications are now open! Are you interested in sports management and development? Would you like to represent the student body for the university ranked 2nd in BUCS? Would you like to assist with the running of the largest college sport programme in the UK? The role of Team Durham President gives you an insight into sport from a business perspective while allowing you to continue playing sport at university. You will learn the financial skills needed to manage the Athletic Union budget, preparing you for work in any business environment. Team Durham provide numerous leadership development opportunities such as training forums with the Royal Navy and the army in addition to enhancing your management skills through working with students, staff, sponsors, parents and alumni. As President, you will be assigned a Durham alumni mentor who will guide you through your year in office, assisting with decision-making and job applications. The President oversees the Athletic Union publicity through the Team Durham website, social media sites and printed publications, thus providing you with relevant marketing and journalism experience. For more information on what the role entails or the application process, please contact me at sports.union@ durham.ac.uk.

Success for karate at Open Championships Kathryn Wood As with all sports who see little of the media sportlight, jargon can be a pretty difficult thing to fathom. But not to worry as here is a quick jargon buster for anyone unfamiliar with the shotokan karate discipline. KATA: Formal exercise. A sequence of karate techniques, performed and judged in a similar way to a gymnastics routine. Scores are given based on accuracy, technique and spirit. TEAM KATA: A synchronised kata performed by three people. In the final round, bunkai must also be per-

Do you  have  what  it  takes  to  be  the  next      

PRESIDENT?

Applications open: Monday 10th February Application deadline: Friday 28th February

Email your CV and 500 word manifesto to Hannah Lowther,

sports.union@durham.ac.uk

formed: a demonstration of how the techniques in the kata could be used against an attacker. KUMITE: Sparring, or fighting. One point is scored for a punch to the stomach, two points for a kick to the stomach, and three points for a kick to the head. Good control must be shown at all times – use of excessive contact will result in a warning for the attacker. TEAM KUMITE: Teams of three sparring against another, one after the other on a rotational basis. On Saturday 1st February, Durham University Shotokan Karate Club set off bright and early for the Northum-

bria Open Karate Championships at Northumbria University in Newcastle. The day got off to a fantastic start with Durham dominating the senior women’s Kata category. Strong performances from Flora Davies, Danielle O’Connor, Kathryn Wood, Lindsay Young, Cat Lake and Caitlin McErlean led to high scores across the board, with two Palatinates reaching the final. Flora Davies came home with a bronze after her sharp rendition of the kata Gojushiho Sho, and Danielle O’Connor was awarded the gold medal for her exceptional perform-

have use of a racket and instead simply use their gloved hands to rally the ball against the front wall of a foursided court. The object of the game is to strike the ball against the wall and above a bar placed approximately two-anda-half feet above ground level, so that the opposing player or team cannot return it within one bounce. The game is delightfully simple; it requires very little equipment, minimal preparation and its rules are very easy to grasp. It is a sport enthralling to watch and exhilarating to play, and yet it remains one of the University’s smallest sports clubs, with its current membership of fourteen being its highest for a number of years. “The Fives Club at Durham has a long history. It’s been around for a long time; at least since the 1920s, if not before,” explains Julian Aquilina, the Club’s Captain. In spite of its long and proud history, the acquisition and, more crucially, the retention of new players has been a frequent source of frustration for a club evidently keen to develop. “A lot of people who have played at

school sadly drop out at university, because not many places have Fives courts. That’s really the limiting factor at present; the fact that there are so few Fives courts,” Aquilina explains. It is an immensely challenging sport, requiring a multitude of different attributes: agility, speed, strength, spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination, to name but a few. These demands are partly what contrive to make the game so appealing to its players. “It’s got everything I really look for in a sport,” explains Sam Russell, a first year from Van Mildert who joined the club in Fresher’s Week after playing for five years at secondary school. “It’s a very athletic game, but you have also got to be quite creative to move your opponent around the court and, because it’s a two-handed game, you have to be just as strong on your left hand as you do on your right”. Its ambidexterity is one feature that really sets Fives apart from other similar sports. Despite the challenges posed by

Fancy something new? Try a hand at Fives Matthew Lavender

Hannah Lowther

Photograph: Thoms Keggin and Colin Young

ance of Enpi. The senior men’s Kata category followed, with Andy Pound and Max Ratcliffe both performing good kata and receiving high scores. The afternoon saw the start of the Kumite events. Flora Davies, Caitlin McErlean and Lindsay Young all sparred impressively in their respective women’s Kumite categories, which had some highly dramatic fights. Lindsay Young was outstanding, coming home with the bronze medal for her category. The men’s Kumite was full of drama, but the Durham boys were plagued by bad luck of the draw: Andrew Lister sparred excellently and was unlucky to go out in the early rounds after a close fight with a competitor who went on to the final. Max Ratcliffe and Andy Pound were unfortunately paired against each other in the first round, with Max Ratcliffe going on to be drawn against a future finalist in the next round. All three boys fought admirably in the men’s Team Kumite which followed, but were outnumbered by Northumbria’s very strong A and B team, made up mostly of England Squad members. With an excellent turnout of nine DUSKC competitors and many more there for support, it was an invaluable learning experience for the club and perfect preparation for the upcoming BUCS championships in Sheffield at the end of this month. The club would like to thank their instructor Colin Young for his coaching and support on the day.

The innate beauty of sport – in all of its many guises and variations – is its fundamental simplicity. In spite of the infinite complexities and fine details which fascinate participants and spectators of every sport the world over, their initial interest inevitably stemmed, and continues to be nourished, by sports’ intrinsic lucidity. This view was powerfully reinforced by my recent visit to Durham University’s Fives Club, which is the subject of this, the first in a series of articles for Palatinate examining some of Durham’s lesser-known sports clubs and societies. The game of Rugby Fives – one of the most prominent varieties of Fives and the format used by Team Durham – is believed to have first been played at Rugby School in Warwickshire in the early nineteenth century, and shares many similarities with the game of squash. Players in Fives, however, do not

the sport – least of all the bruises that afflict anybody not used to striking what is an unforgivingly hard ball – the game has an addictive quality, an ability to simultaneously frustrate and delight and make you eager for more. In addition to the undoubted attraction of the game itself, a crucial appeal of Durham’s Fives Club is that it offers the opportunity to become part of a very close-knit national community. “My favourite thing about the sport is that, because it’s only played by perhaps 200 people competitively in the UK, you get to know your opponents and build up personal rivalries” explains Russell. What DUFC offers to its members is the opportunity to partake in a truly invigorating sport, and become part of a vibrant and diverse national community. Anybody seeking a sporting challenge that combines the conventional with the unusual could do a lot worse than look in the direction of Fives.


Sport

Thursday 13th February 2014 | PALATINATE

Unusual sports

Matthew Lavender takes a look at the world of Fives p. 19

College sport

Why we should respect Queen’s Campus students p. 17

Until next time

Club summaries as several BUCS league campaigns draw to a close p. 18

Sport in Brief

The men’s 1st team taking on Manchester University in their final game

Photograph: Caspian James

Two league titles for DULax Emily Beech

Durham University Lacrosse Club completely dominated the 2014/15 Northern Premier League with the men’s and women’s teams topping their tables unbeaten. The men’s 2nds meanwhile narrowly missed out on topping their league after losing a crucial match against a very strong York team. The women’s 2nds meanwhile

365

The number of goals scored by Durham 1st teams in the BUCS league are still in contention to become champions of their division after coming from behind in apocalyptic conditions to beat Leeds 14-5. However, as is the case with many other 2nd teams across Team Durham, the women’s side will be unable to gain promotion as it is against

BUCS regulation to have two teams from the same university competing in the top flight. Men’s club captain Caspian James told Palatinate the key to his club’s achievments. “It’s no secret that our success comes from our 1st team Americans, but in the other two teams I’d say it’s down to commitment, especially from the 3rds who are often out doing extra practice. “That and some good coaching it’s been good to see the more experienced players stepping up to help the new guys.” Reflecting on the season so far, James deems the biggest highlight to be the 1st team beating Leeds Metropolitan, “a very strong team and the likely competition in the cup final. “We started a little slowly,” James continues “but ramped it up after half time to show who was the stronger team.” Women’s captain Annabel Edwards meanwhile described the season thus far as full of unknowns. “Last year Loughborough and Birmingham were known to be the really tough competition – but after an unbelievable first game of the season beating the latter 14-4, precon-

ceptions were blown. This certainly enabled us to head into every game confident and ambitious, regardless of whom the opposition was.” “You certainly can’t fault the club’s effort with the girls putting in at least a two hour practice every day from Monday to Friday with two of them starting at 7.30am.

“We entered every game confident and ambitious, regardless of whom the opposition was” “Our current coach, Anna Sody, is passionate and very driven – making us a highly committed team – for many of the team this is their last chance to win that BUCS gold, so we’re all working hard to ensure we are in the best possible position.” Edwards’ highlight of the season so far has to be the first game of the season against Birmingham away from home.

“To achieve such a great score against one of our biggest rivals was unreal. But since the initial excitement was out of the way – the best team performance yet was Loughborough, away. Faced by an incredibly aggressive opposition Durham kept their cool and won 12-2.” Looking forward, both teams look like strong candidates in the upcoming cup competitions. Elsewhere, the thriving scene which is Durham Lacrosse is clearly attracting teams from further afield. The men’s 1sts played host to the Italian national champions last Saturday while they also look forward to playing a Senior England side on February 16th. After the success of the women’s 1sts beating a Senior England squad (containing a mix of elite and performance players) last term, the U19 England team have asked to play against the Palatinates. The match is due to take place on Saturday 22nd February in the south of England.

P

For the latest sports news go to www.palatinate. org.uk

CRICKET It was a good week for Durham’s women as they eased into the next round of the BUCS indoor cricket competition. Against Edinburgh and batting first, the Palatinates scored 119-3 off their ten overs. Captain and opener, Elysa Hubbard, retired on 25. Edinburgh were bowled out for 66. Durham took just six overs to beat next opponents Northumbria, making it four wins out of four at the group stages of the competition. VOLLEYBALL: The first ever college mixed volleyball competition began last weekend, with fifteen teams competing. There were wins for Josephine Butler and St Aidan’s against Grey and Castle respectively. St Chad’s beat Hatfield and St Cuthbert’s were defeated by overall college leaders Collingwood. BASKETBALL: Basketball had an excellent Wednesday with three comfortable wins. The women’s 1sts trounced Leeds Metropolitan 80-47 followed by the 2nds who also dominated their opposition to win 65-21. The men’s 1sts beat Leeds Metropolitan 1sts 78-62. SQUASH: The men’s first team have enjoyed mixed success so far this season, with victory over Leeds firsts leaving them third in the Northern 1A league. The women’s firsts are the team to beat at the moment in their division. A convincing 4-0 win over Leeds Met 2nds was their 10th victory of the season. They have a 100% record and top the Northern 1A league with 145 points. RUGBY LEAGUE: In their first match since a stunning 68-0 win over Hull back in November, Durham’s men took on Newcastle 2nds and recorded another strong victory, by a margin of 24-8. They sit mid-table in 5th in the Northern 2B league, having won three and lost two of their five games this season.

Novice Cup cancelled

Poor weather conditions and high river levels last week led to the cancellation of the annual Novice Cup. The event had already been postponed once from last term, and organisers were foiled once again due to safety concerns. In a statement to Palatinate, organisers Lizzie Fletcher and Georgiana Watt said: “We waited as long as possible to make the call as we knew how many people would be disappointed by this decision but it would have been unsafe to go ahead as planned. “The river was consistently above the official limit that would make the event both dangerous and uninsured. “This decision was very hard to make, as we know how much the event means to novice rowers and their coaches. “Unfortunately, it seems that we may not be able to reschedule this term due to the number of planned head races. “We want to apologise again to all the novices – we know you’ve all been training incredibly hard and how disappointing this decision is.”

759  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you