Monday February 13 2012
The Newspaper of Queen Mary Students’ Union
Students oppose staff cuts
Students in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences have attended several meetings recently to protest vociforously against proposed cuts to the school’s teaching staff.
Kaamil Ahmed The risk of losing their jobs has become very real for staff of the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences (SBCS) due to new plans being implemented by the College. In a meeting with students last week, academics expressed their fears that up to a third of staff in the School could face losing their jobs. Dr Rob Knell opened the meeting by explaining that the plans were designed to improve the research rankings of the school, describing the current status as “middling”. However, Dr Knell, a specialist in ecology and behavioural biology, does not believe the changes will be effective. “Is it actually going to improve our research output? My absolute, genuine opinion having looked at what they’re proposing and really having done my absolute best to think through it objectively and carefully is no, it will not.” The teachers expressed their con-
cerns over plans which would mean teaching and research would be carried out separately. They pointed to the likelihood that teachers being hired may not be as qualiﬁed as some of the current staff, who would no longer be permanently based at QM and so would be unable to easily offer support to students. Professor Matthew Evans, the Head of SBCS, said that the plans were designed to maintain teaching standards: “SBCS has had a strong teaching focus and has had good results in this area. The proposal about restructuring the School seeks to maintain and enhance the strength in teaching in SBCS and drive research to a similar high standard. The proposed restructure is recognised to have the potential to result in some redundancies, however we are working with staff and the unions following due process to minimise this risk.” However, many of the staff suggested that there was a signiﬁcant gap between them and the head of the department and
that whatever consultation had taken place and been limited. Staff at the meeting expressed views that suggested the plans would not be successful because they would create more chaos and not deal with the issues they believed limited the school’s ability to become a top-class research institution. Dr Fanis Missirlis complained that the new performance criteria, which staff would be judged against, would not help the school’s research rankings. There have been suggestions that performance assessment could happen as often as quarterly, though such regular meetings would be unlikely because of the administration involved. “All of the top institutions don’t do this type of crap,” said Dr Missirlis. He explained that after his position came up for review, those who were responsible for evaluating his research output had not read his scientiﬁc publications - something he felt wouldn’t happen at a top university. The new performance criteria is being applied retrospectively to the
2008-2011 period and will assess staff performance in both research quality and quantity, research income and PhD completions. Depending on their seniority within the department, a member of staff will be assessed on whether they have produced between ﬁve and thirteen published items between January 2008 and December 2011. Staff at the meeting complained that this does not take into account the issue of many lecturers not having much time to produce articles due to teaching commitments. The staff repeatedly expressed their concern over a lack of investment in infrastructure that would allow them to produce higher quality research. They also complained that while student numbers had increased in recent years, the number of teaching staff had not which has resulted in a high student to staff ratio. Dr Missirlis claimed that the department operated on a proﬁt of £1m a year, which could be used to improve infrastructure. A leaﬂet distributed to students
Image by Lele Gelibter by the UCU branded the plans aggressive and poorly thought out. The leaﬂet said: “Whoever is left will supposedly get more time to research, but management have proposed no improvements in resources or infrastructure that would actually improve research outputs.” It also pointed out that many of the research staff will be recruited in the ﬁeld of Bioinformatics, an area in which there is a large amount of funding but limited interest from students. The proposals suggest that 14 new staff will be recruited as part of the informatics initiative. Professor Evans defended the proposals by saying that they would beneﬁt the University: “Queen Mary is working to be in the top 10 per cent of universities across the UK in terms of our research, and it is important that SBCS can contribute to fulﬁll that vision by increasing staff numbers and improving our staff to student teaching ratio. Improved research will also provide new opportunities to develop our research-led teaching.”
QMESSENGER MONDAY FEBRUARY 13 2012
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The Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee last week after 60 years on the throne
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New research has found that birth defects quadruple when the mother suffers from diabetes
QMessenger is printed at Mortons of Horncastle Ltd, Media Centre, Morton Way, Horncastle, Lincolnshire, LN9 6JR. Tel: 01507 523 456. Each issue has a print run of 1,000 and costs £445 to print and deliver. Established in 2008, QMessenger is the free weekly newspaper of Queen Mary Students’ Union. We are proud of our editorial independence and endeavour to always hold the College, Union and external bodies to account and to provide the best news and analysis to the students of Queen Mary, University of London. QMessenger is created entirely by students and the publication retains all copyright of design, text, photographs and graphics, along with the individual contributor. Any views expressed in QMessenger section are those of the individual writer and do not necessarily reﬂect those of the paper, the editorial board, Queen Mary Students’ Union or Queen Mary, University of London.
@QMessenger In this digital age of ours it would be remiss for us not to keep an eagle eye on our online presence. So, here are the best messages tweeted @QMessenger this week. Feeling quite optimistic about @qmessenger after news meeting. Ready to step it up for the last few issues.
@QMessenger’s Luluvise comment article (bit.ly/z0RpX5) gets a response on the @Luluvise blog!
@ashw2 Your reaction to my article in @QMessenger priceless #ilovemyteam
By Ariane Osman Images by: glass of wine by Jim Grady (Flickr) P100471 by incurable_hippie (Flickr) Fabio Capello by Dekuwa (Flickr)
A senior Queen Mary lecturer will be launching a study to examine the effects of different levels of sanitation on young children in developing countries.
Queen Mary memes go viral Caz Parra A Facebook group containing user-made memes about Queen Mary, University of London, went viral within hours of becoming public last Wednesday. The group, QMUL Memes, was created by Matthew James Martin, a ﬁrst year Politics student, during a break from writing his essays. “God knows how people found the page, I made it as a joke with my ﬂatmate”, he told QMessenger. The page got more than 1,000 likes in less than 6 hours, reaching 2,311 likes at the time QMessenger went to print on Thursday evening. Internet memes were originally created within the Reddit com-
Scientists at the University of Cambridge have found that some drug addictions are due to abnormalities in the brain
munity to describe a popular concept online. They can be generated through websites like memegenerator.net or by superimposing text on any picture. The QMUL Memes page features situations and characters students encounter in our University cast in a humorous light. Other universities around the country also have their own memes pages. Ahmed Moussa, a student from Royal Holloway, left the following message on the QMUL Memes page: “We came up with the university meme page ﬁrst. Yours sincerely, Royal Holloway students.” Shortly after the QMUL group became live a separate, Barts and The London memes group appeared. At time of going to print it has 229 likes.
QMESSENGER MONDAY FEBRUARY 13 2012
Private unis don’t appeal to students Poppy Coppins “Would you consider going to a private university?” A recent study has found that private universities are unappealing to most students. Seventy six per cent of the fifty asked for the study did not like the idea of private higher education, with 46% saying the extra cost was a key problem. With the average yearly fee costing up to £18,000, it is not surprising that the average student looking at £26,100 debt (for those who entered university this current academic year) does not like the idea of a larger burden. This is reflected in the 7 individuals who would like to attend a private institution if they “had the financial backing”. A third of respondents expressed concerns that private universities could contribute to a social divide in the UK. Rehmita Kashyap, a second year Economics, Management and Finance student, said she doesn’t “agree with the division of education with regards to wealth”. This was a sentiment echoed by Dr Tim Brown, a lecturer in Human Geography at QMUL, who said that while he accepts that there are costs to a public education he doesn’t believe higher education should become a commodity. Dr Brown said: “I fail to see how adopting a model that will use public funds (and student fees) to allow the private sector a foothold in the HE ‘market’, will do anything other than diminish the perceived quality of some degrees, undermine the status of many universities operating outside of the elite (read Russell) group and result in the failure of some otherwise sound institu-
London’s roads are UK’s most dangerous Alex Badrick
Private universities such as the Univeristy of Buckingham are not attractive to a majority of students according to a new study. Image courtesy of prkn via Flickr cc tions. All in the name of an ideolog- ed in 1976 as Buckingham Univerical commitment to market compe- sity College and awarded its Royal Charter in 1983; and BPP (Briertition.” Professor Cathy McIlwaine of the ley Price Prior) University College same department added that the of Professional Studies, founded in bursaries sometimes provided by 1976 and granted university status private universities to those who in 2010. Both universities charged cannot afford their fees do not tack- more than state institutions for the le the issue of inequality. “Although 2011/12 academic year. The Univerprivate universities usually claim to sity of Buckingham charged up to provide generous bursaries in order £11,250 per year for home students, to facilitate access for those from while BBP charged up to £6,000 per poorer backgrounds, the underpin- year. Three students believed private nings of such a system are based on the commodification of education institutions provided a better qualwhich will ultimately exclude those ity of education. With an academic staff: student ration of 8.9:1 for the less able to pay.” Currently, there are only two pri- University of Buckingham it is unvate universities in the UK. The surprising that private universities University of Buckingham found- often produce higher results. Six
months after graduating, 100 percent of University of Buckingham’s class of 2010 graduates were either employed or in education. Be it for principle or finance it appears that for the most part students attending Queen Mary are firm in their backing of a state education. The last year has brought with it many challenges to our Higher Education institutions, reflected if not in the student demonstrations December 2010, then in the 7.6% drop in applications for the 2012/13 academic year. Despite this, the students interviewed in this study for the most part have stuck by their government funded university. As one individual noted - “a state university education provides all I need”.
London had the highest number of deaths as a result of road accidents in the last year, new data released by the Department of Transport shows, although nationally the number of road accidents is decreasingly steadily. The overall number of people affected is three and a half times greater than the second highest figure (West Yorkshire); although London’s high population density results in a relatively moderate rate of death or serious injury. One hundred and sixty people were killed in road accidents between January 2011 and January 2012 by the Metropolitan and City of London police forces. 2,563 people were reported killed or seriously injured and 25,719 were reported with slight injuries. Data released by Transport for London shows the estimated number of daily cycling trips doubled between 2000 and 2010, with the total number of cyclists’ casualties increasing from 3506 to 4007 in the same period. The data does not include the effect after the launch of the Barclays cycle hire scheme – better known as ‘Boris Bikes’ – or the cycle superhighways, dedicated cycle paths across the city. An extension of the cycle hire scheme, covering the area from Whitechapel to the outskirts of the Olympic Park in Stratford, is launching in June this year.
Queen Mary to honour unsung heroes Ariane Osman Queen Mary, University of London will be launching a project in order to bring to light the stories of unknown pioneers in modern medicine with the help of an award received from the Wellcome Trust. The £1.4 million Strategic Award in the History of Medicine will enable neuroscientist turned medical historian Professor Tilli Tansey, the creator of the ‘unsung heroes’ project, to collect the stories behind major breakthroughs in medical history. “Modern scientists do not necessarily leave the historical material records (notebooks, letters, etc.) that previous generations did,” said Professor Tansey. “In the recent past, telephone conversations, text, e-mail, etc., and availability of easy
travel [have enabled] scientists to meet rather than write to each other... there are not the traditional records for historians to consult.” The researchers from the History of Modern Biomedecine Research Group, which is based in the School of History, will be conducting 130 interviews and leading 20 witness seminar groups over the next five years. “The Witness Seminar approach I developed allows for groups of peo- The project will tell the story of the people behind some of medicine’s greatest breakthroughs. ple to get together to talk, to discuss Image courtesy of stevendepolo via Flickr cc the changes they have witnessed - medicine, including clinical genet- Medicine, which involves a range of sus, and indeed would be very disapwhat happened and why. Groups can ics, neuroscience, ethics in med- scholars in the Faculty of Humani- pointed if we were; what we record interact, prompt and challenge each ical research and practice, global ties and Social Sciences and beyond.” are the rich and varied voices of perAll of the research material col- sonal testimonies - the raw materiothers’ reminiscences and accounts health and infectious diseases and in ways that even the best-briefed his- biomedical engineering technology. lected by the project will be avail- al resources of contemporary history. Professor Morag Shiach, Vice- able as transcripts, podcasts and The new Strategic Award from the torian cannot,” said Professor Tansey. The seminars will be recorded for Principal for Humanities and Social videos on the website of the His- Wellcome Trust recognises the value publishing at the conclusion of the Sciences, applauded the funding as tory of Modern Biomedecine Re- of the oral history approach to modproject. They will be concentrating “a major contribution to our grow- search Group for future scholars. ern biomedicine, and will extend and “We are not looking for concen- expand,” added Professor Tansey. on five major areas of modern bio- ing research profile in the History of
QMESSENGER MONDAY FEBRUARY 13 2012
Twitter is more addictive than cigarettes Candiece Cyrus A recent study has shown that people find it easy to ignore impulses to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. However, it also suggests that desires to tweet or check emails are not so easily repressed. The investigation, led by Wilhelm Hofmann of Chicago University’s Booth Business School and his research team, used Blackberrys to study 205 people between the ages of 18 to 85 in the area of Würtzburg, Germany, with the aim of measuring their willpower. The participants were found to give in to their desires later on in the day and it was particularly difficult for them to resist the temptation of media. Yet, they were better at ignoring any urges for sleep or sex, to spend money, or play sport. QM student Gulistan Özmen said that she thinks that social media is addictive because there are no visible side effects: “We do not see any side effects such as health damage or monetary expenditure, unlike other addictions. It is easily accessible 24/7 and that makes it more
appealing as we can use in our own comfort at home or or on the go via mobiles.” Another student, Becca Johnson, said that she does not use social media at all: “I don’t use social media, such as Twitter, at all. I made the conscious decision not to do so as I’ve seen how distracting it can be for others.” Hofmann suggests: “Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not ‘cost much’ to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist.” Although budgeting students could find it a cost effective way of communicating or spending their leisure time, Hoffman adds: “the frequent use [of media] may still ‘steal’ a lot of people’s time”. The impulse to work was particularly strong. The researchers state: “Resisting the desire to work when it conflicts with other goals such as socialising or leisure activities may be difficult because work can define people’s identities, dictate many aspects of daily life, and invoke penalties if important duties are shirked.”
Can you live without Twitter?
Image by Steve Garfield
The experiment involved signal- experienced a “desire episode”. as monetary – and the opportunity “Modern life is a welter of assorted may not always be the right one.” ling the participants seven times over fourteen hours for seven days, desires marked by frequent conflict Answering Blackberrys was not at which time they had to say wheth- and resistance, the latter with un- factored in to the study. “People reer they had had a desire within the even success,” says Hofmann. The ally did not feel a desire to use them last 30 minutes, if they were experi- study shows that most desires did – they only beeped once in a while encing one at the current time, what not concern coffee, alcohol or tobac- and, if anything, that was more antype of desire it was, how strong it co, although some people, includ- noying than pleasing, I guess. And was, whether they had given in to it ing students, depend on these to get there was nothing else they could and if they had felt any other desires. them through the day. He states: use the devices for,” says Hoffman. Out of the 10,558 who responded “With cigarettes and alcohol there The results of the study will soon nearly 8000 revealed that they had are more costs – long-term as well be printed in Psychological Science.
QM election campaigns kick off at Hustings
» Students get the chance to ask candidates questions » Candidates expand on their manifestos and debate with each other Rosie Reynolds Hustings were held on Thursday at the Mile End campus to allow election candidates to speak about their manifestos and answer questions from students. Kaz Gander and Bethia Stone, who are running for the position of executive editor of the QMessenger Media Group, were the first to speak. “I am dedicated to the media”, said Stone. “I want to ask what you like, what you don’t, and what you want to get rid of.” She spoke of wanting to expand the media more into Barts and the London, and of also putting more emphasis on PR and technical roles. “Everyone can get the skills they need from our media,” she said. “People are intimidated by not having skills, I want to show them that we can give them skills, they don’t have to turn up with them.” Gander wants to give students experience, equipment and skills. “I want more unity, and more collaboration with societies.” She also spoke of increasing employability for students. As the current comment editor for QMessenger, she thinks that the comment section should be an open forum for students. They both want to expand the television and radio arms of the group, for
example broadcasting QMTV in Drapers. Running for the position of Vice President Welfare are Ellen Kiely and Ozzie Osibodu. Osibudo, who is running on the Turning Point slate, aims to expand community. “We have the tools to have a fantastic community here,” he said. He aims to have off-campus based officers to support students who don’t live on campus, and to push the Mums and Dads scheme to create a dialogue between older and younger students. He wants to support mature students who have been out of education for a long time, and says he feels passionately that QM should provide more crèche spaces for the children of students who are also parents. Kiely envisions a better connected and supported Union which is student-led and diverse. “I think that previous Education and Welfare Sabbs have done a good job but not enough time has gone into welfare,” she said. A question from the floor came regarding Sky Sports in Drapers, something that has been a campaigning point in previous elections. “For me, it’s a given,” said Osibodu, and both candidates agreed that having somewhere for students to watch big sporting events together could only be a good thing. Wilson Wong and Jade Lee are
running for the position of VP Education. Wong spoke about problems that he had encountered within his department, including the problem of hidden costs for compulsory events like field trips. “Its important for students to have good, timely feedback on their work,” he added. Lee said that she felt that many students were unaware of how to obtain opportunities, despite there being many around, and that it’s the SU’s role to help them with this. “I want to work with local organizations to build relationships regarding careers,” she said. “I’m not a Union buff, but I have experience in building employability.” She also rejected the notion that students are consumers and vowed to hold the Principal to account on his decisions, to loud applause from the floor. Both candidates were questioned about cuts. “I accept the cuts are happening, but I’m not for them,” said Wong. Only one candidate is running for the position VP Barts and the London, Andy Smith. He apologized for “looking like the 1%”, having just come from the hospital. He spoke of being a hard worker and said he’d be a practical representative, asking “why are we wasting money on airconditioning when it’s snowing?” He was questioned by a member of the audience about women’s issues
at Barts, and said he has no plans to run a campaign on women’s issues as of yet. “If there’s need there, I’ll support it,” he said. Three people are running for the position of QMSU President – Elle Hallam, Dom Todd, and Babs Williams. Hallam spoke about the high drop-out rate here at QM, and said that she was concerned about the sense of community. “I lived off campus in my first year, and the Union didn’t engage with me and I certainly didn’t engage with the Union,” she said. She wants the Union to have a greater presence in students’ lives. She genuinely believes that students can affect change, and insists that the Union “is not just a service provider.” Todd also wants to give campus a community feel, and wants to address it. “Campus on the weekends is dead,” he said. “There’s no community feel in halls. I want this to be addressed from the first term, with things like inter-hall competitions.’” He would like to see student spaces like Drapers open at weekends, and more careers focused training events. Williams pointed out that, while all candidates had put emphasis on engaging more students with the union, he recognized most of the people in the room. “We say we’re going to expand, but we don’t.” He spoke about QM’s achievements and de-
partments’ high places in league tables, and criticized that that isn’t publicized more. They were questioned over whether they thought the SU was democratic enough. “The structure is there, but its not used,” said Hallam. “We’re not very good at turnout,” said Williams, and Todd emphasized the importance of getting people involved from the very first day. They were also questioned about funding. All candidates had spoken about putting more funding into various areas, but a member of the audience wanted to know where the extra funding would come from and if it was going to be directed away from anything else. “There is funding that QMSU isn’t applying for,” said Williams. “We’re a charity, and we should be getting these grants. I don’t envisage taking funding away from anywhere else.” Hallam and Todd echoed his views. “Our venues could be making a lot more money,” added Hallam. Todd said, “we should definitely look to raise money before redirecting it. Sports clubs could definitely be making more money. We should be trying to get funding from departments for academic societies.” He also spoke of putting on events that wouldn’t cost money, just extra time from Sabbs. “You’re paid a salary, not for the amount of hours you put in.”
QMESSENGER MONDAY FEBRUARY 13 2012
Bite size elections Here are the eight candidates vying for votes to take up the four full-time paid positions up for grabs at the Students’ Union. We asked them to boil down their manifestoes to 50 carefully chosen words... Ellanor Hallam running for President Course History, 3rd year Experience Social Secretary for Snowsports, Chair of Student Council 2011-2012 and history course rep, worked in ground for past two years Key Policies I want the union to make more effort to engage with all students. Only through this can we ensure decisions are student led and focused. More engagement, more interaction, a student stamp on campus and in union policy. An empowered student voice. A greater campus community, a supported student body
Dom Todd running for President Course History 3rd Year Experience 3 years in the Boat Club rowing and coaching, currently President, Social Secretary of History Society, Mile End Sports Ofﬁcer Key Policies Working to build a better community spirit and offering students more by championing issues that affect the average student, such as weekend opening hours for the Library and Student Union venues. Support for students moving into the local area, and making the Union accessible and approachable to the average student.
Wilson Wong running for VP Education Course BSc Medical Genetics, 3rd year Experience Course Rep of the Year 2010/11, SBCS SSLC Student Chair, Mile End Societies Ofﬁcer, President of QM Model United Nations Society Key Policies 1. More learning resources (better equipped library + academic support for societies) 2. Better organised programs (college-wide deadline for feedback + personal tutor throughout + diverse optional module choice) 3. Synergy between staff and students (ﬁght against unnecessary redundancies + communication between departments)
Olutobu Osibodu ‘Ozzie’ running for VP Welfare on the Turning Point slate Course French and Business, 4th year Experience Course Rep and former president of the Basketball Club, currently has an investment bank internship Key Policies having an off-campus rep on Student Council, to represent everyone who lives off campus in their ﬁrst year in order to create a community, lobby the university to improve the creche facilities and widen community around Drapers, wants to turn RAG into a yearly thing rather than just one week.
Jade Lee running for VP Education Course Geography and Politics 3rd year Experience Geography Ambassador, 3rd Year Course Rep, Institutional Leader for London Citizens, ‘Typical’ Student! Key Policies Feedback on examination performance, Introduce Joint Honour Course Reps, Production of SSLC action plans, Community Internships, Research in action modules, More books! ‘Amazon like’ database, Champion Lecture Capture, Students are not consumers , hold the Principle to account for future decisions made
Babs Williams running for President on the Turning Point slate Course History and Politics, 3rd year Experience ran New Turn, worked in communications and policy for a political party, worked in the Foreign Ofﬁce, Key Policies giving funding to start up societies, publishing a yearly report on education to ﬁnd out where departments are failing and succeeding and revamping the careers services.
Re-Open Nominations ‘RON’ running for everything Course: electioneering, perpetual student Experience: Has run in a huge number of elections across the globe Key Policies: There is someone better out there
Ellen Kiely running for VP Welfare Course International Relations, 3rd year Experience RAG Ofﬁcer, President of Amnesty, started up STAR, part of QM Angels Cheerleading Squad and Provide Volunteering Key Policies Students better connected and supported, a more diverse student led union, Queen Mary as part of the wider community
Andy ‘Pivot’ Smith running for VP Bart’s and The London Course: Medicine - Final Year Experience: Jack Petchey Award winning contribution to QMSU, Achievement Award winning contribution to BLSA, Prize and Scholarship winning contibution to QMUL/BLSMD. Key Policies: Ensure the smooth running of BLSA and thus QMSU. Lobby for continuation of autonomous clubs; for the beneﬁt of both BL AND QM. Increase participation of various groups (Postgrads, Dentists etc.) Ease the process of student led initiatives (i.e. room bookings, union events, new societies). www.votepivot.com for more info.
QMESSENGER MONDAY FEBRUARY 13 2012
QM Professor receives UN award for new HIV and AIDS project
The UN has awarded Professor Julian Gold for his work tackling HIV and AIDS.
Ariane Osman “All of the partners are equal in standing, irrespective of if one provides the money or the funding and employs the people with that funding, [it] doesn’t detract from the fact that all the partners in this programme were equal partnerships”, Julian Gold told QMessenger when explaining a project, created in 2008 in order to provide nutritional treatment for HIV and AIDS patients in Champasak Province, which he codirects. It seems like the Honorary Professor of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry may have found the winning formula when it comes to setting up sustainable aid projects and getting them the recognition they deserve. The Lao-TACHIN project received the Partnership Award for the United Nations Development Programme late last year. The award was presented at the 2011 Global South-South Development Expo, and aims to recognize the successful cooperation between southern countries whose work provides support to communities in the developing word. But Professor Gold remains humble when it comes to his project’s success. “It doesn’t really reﬂect our work”, he says of the founding members, “it reﬂects the enthusiasm and capacity of our partners in Laos and
Thailand to work together, we facil- made in tackling the disease. Profes- ern charity doled out to third world itate that and we help that to hap- sor Gold recognises that in the ma- countries. This new approach is pen but this award was very much jority of countries, people living in known as “South-South collaboradependent on them and the work poverty “are frightened of coming tion”, which is “aimed at training they did, which we certainly weren’t into the health care system”. By the people from developing countries time they go and consult a specialist, to assist people in other developpart of.” What Professor Gold can’t deny, it is already “very late, they are al- ing countries”. This encourages the though, is his own dedication to the ready very sick, therefore by engag- teaching of core skills to local people treatment of HIV and AIDS. His ex- ing them in their nutrition, in the who really need them, rather than perience in this ﬁeld dates back to food they eat, in their own health, “importing the skills” from the West. Although Professor Gold does not the very beginning of its discovery we have a very high level of particbelieve that winning awards is what in San Francisco in 1981 and in Aus- ipation.” This also makes it easier for the developing AIDS projects is about, tralia in 1982. He was responsible for establishing the ﬁrst surveillance project to interact with people re- there is no doubt that the success of of AIDS in Australia for the feder- jected from mainstream society, the HIV nutrition project in South al government, and then worked such as sex workers and drug users East Asia will be beneﬁcial in develon the National AIDS Committee as well as young women and their oping a new ideal in charity work. It at which time he began to interact children and couples with whom the has already opened doors for talks with patients suffering from the dis- project can cooporate with less dif- of similar projects around the world, ease, trying to discover how it affect- ﬁculty. Professor Gold believes that which the international public ed their lives and how to help them “improving their nutritional status health programme at Queen Mary engage[s] them in their own health”, is “extremely interested” in particiremain healthy and active. The unique angle on patient nu- and involving a HIV test in the pro- pating in. “I think it gives recognition to the trition also stemmed from Profes- cess means that “if they’re found to sor Gold’s own interest in the areas be infected, [they] also begin treat- importance of a true partnership between a number of countries rather of nutrition and infectious diseases. ment”. Professor Gold does not fail to than what’s historically been seen “We know that where there is food insecurity, as in many South East point out that it is compared to tra- as rich countries giving aid to poor Asian countries and most of Africa, ditional aid initiatives that the bril- countries.” “The Lao-TACHIN collaboration [this] affects abilities to take their liance of the Lao-TACHIN project treatment for HIV and also for other comes to light. One of the biggest raised awareness about the impordiseases like TB, so nutrition plays a complaints against providing ﬁnan- tance of nutrition support in comvery important role in managing pa- cial support to the developing world prehensive HIV treatment”, said Dr is that it begins to rely on continu- Praphan Phanuphak of the Thai Red tients with infectious diseases.” Concentrating on a patient’s nu- ous funding from Western countries Cross AIDS Research Center, aptritional health is also very helpful to sustain itself, instead of using the plauding the success of the project. “More important, we improved the when trying to dispel the stigma at- money to become self-sufﬁcient. The success of the Lao-TACHIN capacity of health institutions and tached to HIV testing, a stigma that is still prevalent the world over de- project lies in its “relatively new staff to provide quality care to peospite the continuing breakthroughs approach” to the culture of west- ple living with HIV.”
Image courtesy of the United Nations.
A Very Modern Disease 1959 - First confirmed death from HIV, in Congo. 1981 - US Centre for Disease Control officially reports AIDS for the first time. First known case in the UK is reported. 1982 - First known cases in Italy, Brazil and Canada. 1983 - AIDS first diagnosed in Mexico (although HIV can be traced back in the country to 1981). 1985 - First officially reported case in China. 1986 - First officially reported cases in Soviet Union and India. 1987 - AZT, the first antiretroviral drug, becomes available to treat HIV. 1988 - December 1st, first World AIDS Day. 1992 - The first combination drug therapies for HIV are introduced. These “cocktails” are more effective than AZT alone. 2000 - World Health Organization estimates between 15% and 20% of new HIV infections are the result of blood transfusions. 2007 - Timothy Ray Brown is the first person to be cured of the disease, which has killed over 30 million people. Still HIV free in 2011.
QMESSENGER MONDAY FEBRUARY 13 2012
The Great Debate
Do unpaid internships exploit students? Ockham Ignored In a small room in Arts Two last week, students and staff from SBCS had an unusually honest and open meeting. Some students had heard murmurings about staff losing their jobs but only the week before had they been addressed by the Head of their School about the issue. The need for a second meeting with only the staff showed that there is a real gap between the Head of the School (and those senior to him) and the lecturers and academics who keep it running. There were more than a few suggestions that the million pound proﬁt seems to be being transformed into carpets and nice furniture hidden away in the Queens’ Building instead of being invested into improving facilities for research. That is the odd thing about this whole scenario. Staff are quite clearly saying that they need better facilities if they are to produce better research but they’re not getting it. Instead, a complicated plan is being introduced that it seems will cause a great deal of disruption to the School and surely will marr the University’s reputation. One academic said that two jobs currently being advertised have failed to attract any applicants - if they cannot ﬁll two jobs, how will they ﬁll the 10-20 more that could be available soon?
What Does It All Meme? After the QMUL Memes page went viral, a student who had been campaigning for QReview complained that his online petition, which had been up for three months, only had 300 signatures while the Memes page already had 1,000 likes. This phenomenon is easily explained: memes are fun and easy, while signing the QReview petition involves ﬁnding out what QReview is. By now, the number of people who have liked the QMUL Memes page is higher than turnout has been in many previous Union elections and it is already far higher than the number of people who like QMessenger on Facebook (we’ve come to terms with this only because we love you). However, we do want to highlight the fact that these ﬁgures are significant and a metaphorical kick in the teeth to students who want to see a more engaged campus. So, to put it in language you understand:
Image by Maria D’Amico
Muireann McCann The beginning of semester two, year two is a turning point in university life. People start to knuckle down in preparation for exams and the topic that regularly surfaces among students is what everyone is planning to do for summer. Talk inevitably turns to internships. In recent years they have come to be seen as the be all and end all. The deciding factor in whether you land that all important job at the end of your degree or whether you travel back home to your parents with your tail between your legs and spend the next few years working in Starbucks. This is of course not true, their importance has been exaggerated. Nevertheless, employers are aware of this fear and are perfectly willing to exploit it to make students agree to unpaid internships. The competition for these placements is ﬁerce. So, if you get a place you should supposedly be grateful for the opportunity to work 40 hours a week unpaid. One of the worst offenders is the fashion industry. Last November, HMRC announced plans to investigate and crackdown on unpaid internships. Companies such as Topshop and Urban Outﬁtters are coming under scrutiny as ofﬁcials try to establish whether their placements merely involve shadowing employees, or whether interns are being asked to work, thus breaching minimum wage laws. The last few days have seen a former intern at Harper’s Bazaar in the US suing the magazine’s publisher with lawyers arguing that interns are being required to fulﬁl the role of an entry level employee without being paid.
On top of this, some schemes offered by companies merely involve running around getting coffee and lunch. Given that most students are already experts in the art of coffee making, this hardly seems like a learning experience. I guess you could say you’re ‘networking’ (one of the other stupid things our working lives apparently depend on), but I ﬁnd it hard to believe that busy working people take that much notice of the 20-something year old serving them coffee. If you spend most of your time getting coffee and lunches then you may as well be working in Starbucks, at least you’re earning. I’m not saying that all internship programmes should be tarred with the same brush. I know several people who have had great experiences and genuinely learnt from their placements. However, this is not the case across the board. Not only do unpaid internships exploit, they exclude. It is simply not possible for the majority of young people to work for nothing and afford the cost of living in cities such as London. Realistically this means unpaid internships are only open to those with large savings, rarely the case for most students, or people who are fortunate enough to have ﬁnancial support from their families. This is just one more thing in a list of many, preventing equal opportunities. How many students can afford to work for nothing? The fundamental idea behind internship programmes is that they should be a learning experience for the participant. The predominant aim is that the student should beneﬁt, not the employer. Muireann McCann is a second year History student and a member of the History Society.
We live in tough times. Jobs low, recession high and a sea of people failing to recognise what’s worth ﬁghting for. An internship has become a very loose term, commonly taken as a small stint of work with a company to gain experience, network and beef up your CV. It’s not a job, it’s not paid, nor is it usually contractual, so why would people think they exploit students? It’s the growing fuzziness of this line between an internship and a job that’s got people up in arms, as interns begin to pose a more and more important role in the workplace, minus the pay of a regular employee. Sure, there’s an argument, we need internships to get jobs, yet if an internship doesn’t pay, then what are post-grads going to live on? Life comes at an expense. Sometimes one has to remember something QM’s campaigning nasties forgot long ago, that value can stretch beyond the wallet, beyond dour statistics and, most importantly, beyond idealistic rambling. The value for an intern is there for the taking, you just have to remove that veil of aimless animosity and look at the bigger picture. A picture of top company experience, precious contacts and a foot in the door of the world’s most competitive city. It’s easy to demonise the ‘money-grabbing corporations’, the ‘fat cats’, the ‘suits’, but people will always feel exploited, the key is to exploit back. Fight for yourself, not against the system, the internship is raw opportunity, and great chance comes with great sacriﬁce. If you want a free ride, then wake up, be-
cause in this society, no matter how much you scream and shout, nothing is given to you. Low on money? Get another job, apply for a loan, take a gap year or, if you can, scrimp from your parents. Life isn’t a swift breeze, it’s a hard wind you need to push through to get where you want, trying to deny this will leave you stagnant and stationary. People need to change their perspective, treat a challenge as something to overcome rather than shout about. Students are complaining that what they do as an intern warrants a wage. So, they’re doing important work? Meeting important people? Sounds a lot more valuable than making tea, and that’s what companies give in return. Obviously it’s convenient for them, but why would you stress about others’ intentions when the experience you are getting is so proﬁtable! Take it on the chin, absorb what you’ve learnt and use the gravitas to take the next step. There’s personal gain and then society’s game you need to tangle with, and internships are one of these dual grapples. Compromise is key and once you are able to admit that, you can push forward and see that you, as an individual, have the power to move ahead of this whiny, slimy, meat-hook idealism. The question isn’t whether internships exploit students, it’s whether students can exploit internships. Trying to stop bosses from being greedy is like asking a cloud not to rain on your parade, it’s the nature of our society, and if you want to survive, you have to play the game, ﬁght for what you want and do some manipulating of your own. Alexander Penn is a third year English Literature student and online editor for QMessenger Media group.
QMESSENGER MONDAY FEBRUARY 13 2012
Can we just enjoy religion’s ‘best bits’?
Is it possible to take the good and leave the bad?
Priya Soni “Even if religion isn’t true, can’t we enjoy the best bits?” This is a recent quote submitted for discussion, by Mohammed Altamash in the online Queen Mary Philosophy Society forum. Religion is a touchy topic, and indeed this was reinforced recently when Queen Mary’s Atheism, Secularism and Humanism Society had to cancel their talk on ‘Sharia Law and Human Rights’ after threats of violence. It’s difficult to criticise religion without sounding as though you are rejecting it. This difficulty naturally usurps our freedom of speech and hinders developing any real discussion on the subject. This is where the problem lies. This article will not ask that you completely reject and neglect religion (for religion can be the most sublime expression of faith), but it does ask that you rigorously assess religion as a component of ideology, and from this assessment, constantly negate your position within the field of religion. Back to Mohammed’s quote, can we enjoy the best bits of religion? It strikes me that first the ‘best bits’ need to be divided from the ‘worst bits’. Here I pre-figure a utopian notion of religion, I suppose in other words that religion, because it is associated with the divine, the inhuman, the benevolent, omnipotent and omniscient, it would – or rather should – have no ‘worst bits’. This is
Image courtesy of murdelta via Flickrcc
yes, it distorts the social conception vices for their communities. There to ‘instruct’ or ‘teach’ religious worof religion, and why not? Religion is are positives as well as negatives to ship, but to explain and resituate a social ideology, whether it resists ‘organised religion’. A discussion of religious thinking away from the this title or not it must still operate mystical and shadowy realm of unwithin the social sphere and thereknowing, into enlightenment and fore must be liable to social critique knowledge. It would be unfair, for and judgement. This is where the instance, to vote for one party withdisjunction between religion and out knowing about the other. It society occurs, and tragically so, for would be completely valid howevin order to overcome critique, you er, if upon making an informed deneed to face it. Even as I write this, cision, one instigates rational deI think: “I hope I am not offending bate and therefore propels necessary the reader” for I don’t intend to, but change or advancement in religious if truth be told, I don’t think it an ofpractice and thinking – thereby crefence to voice one’s thoughts on reating, rather than simply deducing ligion (as one would on any other the ‘best bits’ of religion. You may subject) – to voice within reason, of feel that I am promoting a progrescourse. As it has been pointed out to the two in the public, as well as the sive religious view: one subject to me in a recent debate, currently, “It private, domain is all that is need- change and revision and thereby diswould seem the only people in our ed to resolve sensitive tensions. Over missing all literalist interpretations society that enjoy religious freedom the years religion has survived wars, of scripture in religious practice, are the religious.” Religion needs to ideological conflicts, internal and and perhaps I am. I would respond enter the public sphere of debate external power struggles, structur- by asking how literal interpretations mans and not deities who have iden- and thinking for only then can it tru- al changes and evolution and now I can survive in our modern context? tified a need to practice religious ly overcome the supposed ‘worst bits’ think religion is stuck at the point of I cannot see how, and therefore canconfining itself to the private – and not argue why. This would be one exlore. Therefore it seems only logical for the ‘best bits’. In contemporary society, reli- perhaps unwillingly, perhaps in fear ample of where debate is needed. that religious practice would reflect In this vein, I urge you all to the failings of humanity. Humanity gion is a delicate topic and perhaps of public critique and consequential is not perfect, and therefore religion rightfully so. Nonetheless, if religion undoing, or perhaps just to preserve take the opportunity to participate cannot be; to suppose otherwise is were to enter the sphere of public the traditional order it has thus far in Queen Mary Liberty League’s to adopt a defensive naivety in order discourse it could highlight its own retained. It has survived for one, “Free Speech Wall” located near to avoid the complex reality of this failings against its successes. Let where much else has not. Therefore, the Blomeley Centre and to visit world. Such naivety threatens reli- us not forget that religions across yes it seems necessary to ask can we the Queen Mary Philosophy Socigious belief, both of the believer and the world provide humans with a “enjoy the best bits”… but more nec- ety Facebook group (and fortnightly non-believer by increasingly making sense of community, with comfort essarily, we need to ask how do we on Mondays 6-8pm in Francis Bansceptical notions of religious virtue and hope. They are one of the larg- achieve this? I am not a religious be- croft) to participate in this, and othwithin our modern society. We can est charity givers and in times of eco- liever, but I am not an atheist either – er such discussions. all recognise, without me listing, the nomic hardship and difficulty, reli- and spiritualism to me seems a rathtragic consequences of religious ex- gious institutions such as mosques, er ambiguous term. I for one, would Priya Soni is a third year English tremism – not that such extremism temples, synagogues and churches welcome healthy religious debate – Literature student and president of the is subject only in religions, but that provide food, shelter and other ser- debate fuelled with the purpose not Philosophy Society.
my mistake, for I forget in my pursuit of utopian thinking that religion is not a divine subject. In fact, religion is a human conception, or at least institutionalised by humans. The minute we begin to think of religion in a divine sense, we elevate it beyond the grasps of humanity. After all, let us not forget that it is humans and not deities who practise religion. Critically, let me reinforce, it is hu-
is not a “ Religion divine subject. In fact, religion is a human conception.
were “ Iftoreligion enter public
discourse it could highlight its own failings against its successes.
QMESSENGER MONDAY FEBRUARY 13 2012
One small step for a gay man... There’s no business like snow business “He goes out smelling like a right poof.” Let me paint you a picture, I work for the perfume counter at Boots and this lovely phrase was used around Christmas by a charming lady explaining her son’s aftershave choices to her friend. Perhaps worse, her friend laughed. Sadly I had to stop serving these wonderful women because, well, I don’t tolerate homophobia. Maybe I’m overreacting though, perhaps I should have let her comment go, seen it as just another dig about LGBT people, nothing particularly harmful. Unfortunately for the women I was serving, I’d already had a teenage girl tell her friend my hair was “so gay” and been given a handful of funny looks for trying to help others pick out perfume. Oddly the looks did stop when I mentioned I was considering buying my boyfriend aftershave for Christmas – as if the fact I’m gay somehow magically transforms me into a perfume guru. This February marks LGBT history month, established in 1994; a time
when culturally it meant a very different thing to “be gay”. Over these eighteen years the LGBT community have achieved innumerable victories, from the repeal of crushingly restrictive legislation such as Section 28 to the age of sexual consent being lowered to 16, and huge steps towards equality have been made. Yet still today petty homophobia exists; how often as a child did you hear “that’s so gay”? In fact, how many times do you still hear it said around campus today? Sadly the problem isn’t just one of children’s word choice though, as religious intolerance, governmental prejudice and other day to day bigotry are rife. Deep rooted problems still exist, such as the recent change in the law which means GBT men can now give blood, but only if they have abstained from having sex in the last year. This enforced inequality means that even a loving, monogamous couple are prevented from giving blood. Not only is this ridiculous, it is irresponsible as the government is prohibiting healthy donors from providing much needed blood. Marriage too is still the privilege
...One giant leap for LGBT-kind! Gay people are much more likely to be in managerial or professional occupations - 49% compared with 30% for straight workers - and better educated, with 38% holding a degree. Their age profile is also much younger than the rest of the population, with 66% under the age of 44 and 17% aged 16 to 24. Just over 45% of the gay community are co-
of a lucky majority. Despite the wonderful introduction of civil partnerships, which give couples the chance to have a legally binding relationship, they are still rejected by most faiths in the UK. This particular brand of alienation smarts of the “separate but equal” mantra of the Deep South before the black rights movement, “well of course you can use the bathroom, just not OUR bathroom.” In the same fashion gay couples are denied the chance to get married in places of worship, they are rejected by the faiths that they are just as much a part of as anyone else. The women at Boots didn’t manage to get their perfume that day and frankly I’m glad. My manager’s actions in accepting my refusal to serve them show just how far we have come as a society, and for this we must be thankful. The things said that day, and every day, however, must stand as a constant reminder that much is still to be done, both on a small level and a larger scale.
Sean Richardson is a first year English Literature student and a member of LGBT society and QM Equality.
habiting, although only 8% live in a household with at least one child present. A third of bisexual households include at least one child. London is home to the highest concentration of gay people at 2.2% of the population, while this proportion falls to 0.9% in Northern Ireland. -Alan Travis, The Guardian.
Pro cap: benefits cause immoderation Zubair Suleman
We can take pride in the fact that our country has one of the most supportive welfare systems in the world. However, we must draw a line between those levels of benefit which are necessary and those which are excessive. It is imperative that we ensure those in employment are always better off than those who are not. Recent government proposals include a £26,000 cap on benefits per annum, equivalent to pre-tax earnings of £36,000. Such proposals are necessary to lose the opportunistic cost of not working, which then creates an incentive for the unemployed to seek employment. Furthermore, as the welfare budget is the largest component of government expenditure, it is paramount that the budget is kept under control to help reduce the deficit. The previous Labour government failed profoundly on controlling expenditure, allowing the budget to increase disproportionately year by year. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the introduction of a benefits cap has attract-
ed unyielding public support. The YouGov poll shows that 76 per cent of the public are in favour of a cap. Moreover, two thirds of respondents argued for a reduction of the cap to £20,000. Housing benefit is a primary example of the injustice an over magnanimous benefit system can cause, with private landlords the main beneficiaries in this case. Landlords are well aware that the extortionate rents they set are going to be paid by the government; only a cap will prevent this robbery of taxpayers’ funds continuing. The following case study is representative of the inequity the current benefits system can cause. An unemployed Somali family living in a 6 bedroom house in West Hampstead has a housing benefit bill alone which amounts to an eye watering £2 million a year. It is unacceptable for the unemployed to be residing in properties that normal working families can only dream of living in. Furthermore, why should a family not working be entitled to more than a working family next door? Critics argue that the benefits cap will lead to a Kosovo-style ethnic cleansing
of more affluent areas, but this measure is just to ensure that appropriate levels of benefits are paid and fairness is maintained. The House of Lords recently voted against the inclusion of Child Benefit in the cap. This amendment is disappointing as Child Benefit causes the total amount of benefits claimed by a family to exceed £50,000. When did unelected officials in the House of Lords become the voice of public concern? The cap is part of welfare reforms initiated by Work and Pension Secretary Iain Duncan Smith. Further reforms include a shake-up of Disability Living Allowance in the UK, with claimants subject to medical reviews and tests. This will help reduce the amount of false claimants, where people claim to have nonexistent medical conditions in order to receive the allowance, which costs taxpayers an estimated £2 billion a year. Reform is long overdue, and such policy is a significant step in tackling welfare dependency in Britain. Zubair Suleman is a second year Geography and Economics student.
London, once again, finds itself snowed under. Image courtesy of Jose Miguel Calatayud via Flickrcc
Keumars Afifi-Sabet I am categorically unimpressed. And it’s no surprise really; I am very easily unimpressed. But more importantly we’ve been undone, yet again, by the absolute shocker that is winter. Astonishingly we don’t, in fact, live in mainland Ecuador, so dealing with a light flurry of frozen water shouldn’t really be a problem. Yet I find myself scratching my head at the capital’s utter ineptitude when it comes to dealing with anything amounting to at least four inches of snowfall. Last year saw a real windfall, to the extent that the media, somehow, managed to work the weather into every single news segment, from politics to sport. Unsurprisingly, weather reporters looked more than disgruntled when it was their turn at the end. The news was almost worth watching solely for the occasional soul-sapped glares of disillusionment at the cameras. In any case, for a nation as obsessed with the snow as we are you wouldn’t therefore expect our natural reaction to be one of confusion, and more significantly, blind panic. It simply amazed me that what can only be described as three hours of light snowfall brought the entire tube network to its knees last Saturday night, especially considering most of it is in fact underneath the ground. What was TfL actively doing to prepare themselves? It’s not like we have no means of meekly predicting the weather, and it’s not like this was a freak accident. The temperature had been dipping below freezing for
about a week; it was simply a matter of time before something happened. It didn’t help either that the week before councils across London were flinging grit here, there and everywhere like bored primates with surplus of faeces. There’s a reason we ran out of salt last year, there’s a reason we didn’t have any for when it actually snowed, and for when we actually needed some the most. I’m not going to suggest useful methods by which we can prevent nationwide calamity, and I’m well aware that this piece is neither helpful nor constructive; if everything ran smoothly I’d have nothing interesting to rant about. I’d have to pick something arbitrary, like a ‘celebrity’ who’s not really a celebrity for doing something only people with an IQ below 80 would find interesting or gratifying in any way. I’d much prefer drawing up a list of our collective failures so somebody in charge of all this stuff, like the Mayor, for instance, can work to correct them, rather than making controversial speeches at disappointingly underwhelming public events. I know I shouldn’t be too surprised, but for the tenth consecutive year of semi-substantial snowfall in living memory, you’d probably expect slightly better than the entire nation working ourselves into a state of panic while politely begging for the madness to stop, please. Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a first year Biomedical Sciences student and a member of the Art Society.
QMESSENGER MONDAY FEBRUARY 13 2012
Comment This week marks the biggest democratic event of the Union calendar Sophie Richardson President
This week marks the biggest democratic event of the Union’s calendar, ELECTIONS! By the end of the week I imagine most of you will have found new ways of travelling across campus in order to avoid the constant ﬂyering and campaigning that takes place mainly in Library Square. However, as annoying as it may be for some of you, this is your opportunity to decide who you want to run your Union over the next academic year. Too many
students think that the Union isn’t relevant to them but it is. It’s relevant to every single QMUL student as the Union is your main representative and ﬁghts every day on issues that affect every aspect of your life as a student here. You may not always be aware of the changes that the Union has fought for and implemented on your behalf, but it doesn’t mean that we’re not working hard to help better your lives as students here. That’s why you
should absolutely take an interest ions, views and issues. Through takin the elections since these are the ing an active role in the elections people who are going to be repre- this year, you are participating in senting you and hopefully continu- setting the direction of the Union ing to ﬁght for change in order to over the next year and beyond. So improve your student experience. go to www.qmsu.org/elections and Think about the issues that you have your say now. want to see your Union working on over the next year and take the time Sophie to read the candidates’ manifestos. Talk to the candidates and ask them Follow me on Twitter: questions, challenge them and invite them to listen to your own opin- @PresidentQMSU
This election season has seen a record number of BLSA students stand George Ryan BLSA President
So, election fever has ofﬁcially set in. Barts and The London Student Association has seen a record number of candidates applying for the various postions available sitting on the Student President’s Council. Forty-four students in total are standing, and this is a testament to the hard work this year’s SPC has put in to developing the image of our Union, both to those already engaged and those beyond, in the wider student body. I am over the
moon! Student councillors at BL cil is one of the best moves we have don’t run on political manifestos, made this year. These positions will they care about what is happening help our good relationship with the in their Union, in their School and medical school ﬂourish even furhow they can get the best for their ther. Before I leave, I aim to ensure these ofﬁcers have seats on various students, that is all. The people that are fortunate staff committees within the school; enough to be elected will be in po- the Medical Education Committee, sitions of power next year. They will Associate Deans Committee, the be able to effect the changes they Curriculum Working Group, and want to see, be that within the med- many more. By doing this, actively engaging ical school or the Students’ Union. Having an academic zone on coun- students with staff at the medical
school, we empower part-time ofﬁcers by giving them more responsibility over the curriculum and academic decision making. It’s all well and good students sitting on the SSLC and ranting away to staff, don’t get me wrong, but that isn’t the frontline of decision making in the School, these various committees are. If we can negotiate more places for students on these, the beneﬁts will be seen by both students and staff alike.
If you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem Dom Bell VP Student Activities
You know what I ﬁnd hilarious? The lowest form of wit available on the net http://elections.ele.ph/ant/. Congrats to the authors’ guerrilla tactics in trying to undermine QMSU, because it’s hard to undermine something. In fact, the students writing the blog are heavily involved in the Union, which is why they are so good at spotting the inefﬁciencies. I think the way they’ve analysed those inefﬁciencies in QMSU, the way they point out
the faults of election candidates in no derogatory manner, is incredibly constructive and backed up with super strong evidence. If only after their attempt to demolish any sense of decency and good will in the Union and their fellow students, they were able to provide a constructive alternative. Maybe this is the best thing about it, because then it wouldn’t be dismissive, cynical, and totally unhelpful. You know, there’s nothing wrong
with satire but it’s a tricky art, and these ﬂedglings are giving it a good stab, but if you don’t get it right then you’re not helping anyone, not even yourself. The only thing you can get out of it is a perverse sense of enjoyment in degrading others and maybe a few irritated responses from people like me. You don’t have to let the Union be a waste of your time if you don’t want, but these lot are evidently wasting everyone’s. Let’s take a look at Exhibit A. An
article pointing out that using iPads during the election voting period won’t by itself solve student apathy. Duh. Neither will moaning about it. Look, there are always inefﬁciencies in a complex organisation of about 50 staff trying to grab the attention of 16,000 students. Don’t you want to sort this out? And where are the takers? Well, actually, they’re running for election because they’re trying to do something about it.
I’d rather fake my own death than go to another NUS conference Oscar Williamson VP Education & Welfare
I would like to leave the NUS. The beneﬁts of membership may be crudely grouped as training and conferences, discounts, and national representation. All are signiﬁcantly exaggerated, but the conferences are especially bad. One or two insights are typically spread over ﬁve or six hours. One day conferences start mid-morning, so you can’t even get a couple of hours’ work in ﬁrst. Multi day events are even worse. Take October’s Higher Education Zone conference, for example. Item
one is lunch. The working day begins at one o’clock with 4 1/2 hours of speeches and workshops, with a couple of tea breaks. This is followed by a drinks reception, dinner, and a night out with the local Sabbs, before the out-oftown delegates return to their hotel rooms. The next day is even shorter: three-and-a-half hours on the internal workings of the NUS itself, then lunch. This is not a timetable set by people who want to do some work. It
is hard to think of a less efﬁcient way to schedule eight hours of content than by straddling it across two days. The rationale is that it creates networking opportunities, and there is indeed plenty of networking. But I would question why this needs to happen overnight, and how happy students would be if they knew how much they pay for it. And ﬁnally: even though we pay almost £50,000 a year in afﬁliation fees, this particular conference cost £135 plus VAT. There is an as-
sumption in SUs that the NUS is best placed to run conferences on issues around higher education and student wellbeing, and this may well have been the case in the past. But it certainly isn’t any more. There’s no reason why a Union interested in Course Reps, postgraduate funding, widening participation or whatever it is couldn’t organise and promote a day conference themselves. At the very least, we can expect the shock of some serious competition to snap the NUS out of their complacence.
Choosing not to vote may be your right, but it would also be criminal Sam Creighton VP Communications
With 86 students vying for the 54 positions in the elections, this week is going to be a busy one. With portfolios ranging from President to Sports Ofﬁcer, the people who you elect will have a huge impact next year. From the price of a pint in Drapers to what the Union argues for in College meetings, all these decisions are made by the people demanding your votes. However, with essays stacking up
and some election promises seeming eerily familiar, it’s easy to ignore the hubbub in Library Square and not vote. However, this would be a great mistake. Voting is quick and painless, so take the time to read the manifestos, acquaint yourself with the policies and engage with the issues. Find out what these newly famous faces stand for. If you don’t, everyone else will make the decision for
you and you’ll be stuck with it. If you’re someone who loves the Union then you should vote so it can grow and prosper in the way you want it to, and if you hate it then you should vote for the candidate that promises change it into what you think it should be. All student issues fall under the remit of one position or another and you are the people they are meant to represent, so make them listen to you and
make them earn your vote. You are the only people who can make sure that the person who wins is the right person for the job, rather than just someone who wants one. If someone is going to be paid to represent you for a year, don’t you think that they actually should? Voting may be a right rather than a privilege, but it’s one that would be criminal not to use.
QMESSENGER MONDAY FEBRUARY 13 2012
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QMESSENGER MONDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2012
Join RAG this week for many an exciting adventure Aysel Küçüksu The 13th-17th of February is RAG Week! RAG will be raising funds for East London charities while getting QM students and societies involved in the process. It will be an amazing week, diverse in terms of both activities and groups involved, so it is only fair that they are mentioned here. It all kicks off on Monday at the Blomeley Centre between 1 and 5pm with an, originally named, event Let Them Eat Cake. As much as the connotations of this title might remind you of 18th century France, the event itself is nothing but a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a “delicious array of tea and cakes”, which will not only indulge your stomach but your conscious as well, since all proceeds go to charity. On Valentine’s Day, Reach Out will be selling roses and cards in Library Square, while “Sound of Ground” will provide live music at Ground from 6 to 8pm, best part of it being that the entry is free! The middle of the week offers the main event of RAG Week: the Masquerade Date Auction, which will take place on Wednesday 15th February in Drapers, starting at 10pm. The dates themselves will be provided by RAG, so there goes
There will be tea aplenty at QM RAG week’s Let Them Eat Cake your last excuse for not taking part. will be devoted to DCC getting During the day, Knit-a-Soc will be RAGged… 80s and 90s style! This doing a 12 hour sponsored knit will take place in the New Globe. Our Friday events will revolve in Library Square, which will be open for people to join in and con- around Library Square and will intribute to “Getting Your Knit On”. volve the launch of two major upThursday will be marked by coming events. Under the title “Fly a traditional Bake Sale in Li- Away with Me”, people will be able brary Square, while the night to come and sign up for the Skydiv-
What our clubs really need Hollie Carter It’s that time of year again, when it becomes (for the majority) impossible to ignore the election hype. Whoever gets elected we face a brand new Sabb team, so these elections really are our chance to effect to change in the Union. Here in the Sports and Societies section we are not immune to the election buzz, so we thought we’d get in on the act by asking clubs what they think needs improving for next year to make sure that the issues that really affect you are addressed by this year’s candidates. The feedback we received from clubs highlighted the fact that it is these same time old issues that are causing problems for our sports and activities. The majority of societies argued that despite promises to improve the room bookings system, many are still finding it hard to secure rooms in which to hold events and meetings. This is not an issue that is unique to QM students, as it would appear from last night’s BL hustings that students down at Whitechapel are experiencing similar issues. Societies also spoke of their frustration about the ‘red tape’ that surrounds external speakers, with each speaker having
to be vetted twenty one days before the event. For countless societies this is just functionally not possible, as many speakers, particularly those that are high profile and would provide a great event for our students, don’t confirm until a lot nearer the time, meaning that in some cases students are missing out on amazing speakers. The main issue that arose from speaking to sports teams was the problem of communication between club captains and administrative staff. Sports teams argued that more could be done on the administrative side to offer support to sports teams; once again this is not something that only applies to QM students with BL students voicing the same issues to their potential sports officers at their hustings. There is still much to be done to improve sports and societies at both Mile End and Whitechapel, and it will fall to a combination of our elected part time Sports and Societies officers and the Sabbatical officers to ensure that the clubs are well provided for. With the loss of the VP Sports and Activities role, it is more important than ever to vote for officers that will campaign to resolve these issues and finally change sports and societies for the better.
Image by Keeren Flora
This year’s RAG week promising Challenge. Not only that, but they will also be able to get infor- es to be a fantastic one, filled with mation about and sign up for the great events to make as much upcoming QM Jailbreak, which money for local charities as pospromises to be the most exciting sible, and the whole RAG team RAG event of the year, as people hopes to see a big turn out. Go to have to hitchhike as far away from ‘QM RAG WEEK 2012’ on FaceQM as possible without any money book or email Queenmaryrag@ and within a limited period of time. gmail.com for more information.
The Queen Mary Theatre Company put on a show of five star physicality Robert Jopson Stephen Berkoff’s account of the destructively vivacious nature of the East End in the 1960s was stunningly brought to life by directors Nadia Rich and Josh Lee, in a production performed on Friday 3rd of February to open the Queen Mary Theatre Company’s Mid-Season Festival. The two directors perfectly crafted the grimy depths of London’s East End, from an alley behind the local supermarket to the Lyceum dance hall, using only the simplest of sets; five chairs and a much utilised coat stand. The use of minimal lighting, often leaving the stage in near blackout, allowed the audience to focus on the sublime performances of the five actors involved. Leading the way was Georgie Bradley as the disturbingly violent, sexual and animalistic Mikey, her physicality leaving the audience in no doubt that this character posed
a threat to all and sundry. The decision to cast a woman in the role of this East End hard boy was a stroke of genius, allowing a depth of study into the male psyche through such an unusual and sometimes comedic conduit. Leif Halverson’s performance of the role of Les allowed the audience insight into the more disturbing mind (in many ways) of the those frustrated and trapped in a situation who find an outlet for their pain in both violent and sexual aggression. His diminutive and more reserved performance was interspersed with brutal thoughts and actions perfectly capturing this. The salacious Sylv, the object of both young boys’ affections and a symbol of the plight of women in East End society, was portrayed superbly by Stephanie Kelly, who seduced the audience with an intensely sexual physicality and speech oozing with flirtation. The characters of Mum and Dad were played respectively by Sam
Courtney and Johnny Mallet, whose use of comic performance delighted the audience whilst still portraying the disillusion of two people stuck eternally in a rut - the potential fates of Mikey, Les and Sylv. Bringing to life a text that combines both Shakespearean poetry and the thick East End brogue is without a doubt a challenge, and the actors, with the help of superb direction, managed to enact this collision of the sublime and the crass in both language and physicality to create an enticing and exciting performance. The intensity and energy on stage was undeniable, and encapsulated the audience in the deeply rooted and unchangeable danger of the East End that defines all the character’s lives. Overall this was a thrilling, deeply entertaining production that simply blew the audience away, I personally would be perfectly happy to pay the price of a professional theatre ticket to see it again.
QMESSENGER MONDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2012
Netball gives back to the community Emma Swan In the next few weeks, the community of Shadwell will be inundated with Queen Mary Netballers willing to help. QMN have decided to devote a day’s work of volunteering to the Shadwell Community Project. The local charity Glamis, which was founded in the late 1960s, is a valuable resource for the children of Shadwell and is open four to six days a week, 50 weeks a year, and gives the children space to socialise in a safe haven away from trouble and danger. Over 700 ethnically diverse children are registered with the charity and they are able to enjoy activities such as cooking, sports tournaments and arts and crafts all because of the generous help and support it is given by the people who work and volunteer there. Glamis Shadwell adventure playground won the prestigious London Playground of the Year award in 2007 for its great work, with Nicky Gavron, Deputy Mayor of London, commenting “I warmly congratulate Glamis Road Adventure Playground on being chosen to receive London Play’s Adventure Playground of the Year Award 2007. The playground is a colourful space where children can run
Queen Mary Netballers volunteered with local charity Glamis to reform this Shadwell playground around, climb, walk along walkways high off the ground, and pretend to be people like pirates, shop keepers and whatever they would like to be.” QM Netballers will take their handy work off the courts and take part in tasks such as painting murals, mending wooden structures and
cleaning the sand pits along with an organised netball day for the girls. The young girls will interact with QMN, learning ball skills and ending in a round robin tournament, with treats and snacks to end the day; a great experience for all involved. Shadwell’s playground, how-
sera”. The day would not have been complete without Tommy Huckstepp tucking away a goal before running over to the sidelines to kiss his mum. She was very impressed and even gave the team a cheeky wave; shame he doesn’t have a sister. UCL’s defending was looking more messy than a team night out at Cheapskates. Sean “leg-breaker” Mahoney has not conceded since November 30th and although Adam McDaid’s goal drought continues, the fifths look on course for a historic cup final. After all, they’ve gone further than any other QM side has this season, much to the dismay of Magnus Lorentzen, proving that Welsh coaches are clearly tactically superior to the Norwegians. The pressure is now on for Sam Lowe, who is under pressure to make sure the fifths are drinking out of the cup on tour in Sunny Beach come June.
Sam Lowe had promised a season of unrivalled glory to new recruits over the summer and now nobody can question his managerial ability. The fifths find themselves one game away from Wembley after dismantling UCL in front of a record crowd on another magical cup night at Chistlehurst. You know it’s a big game when Tommy Huckstepp’s family turn up. The fifths were imperious from start to finish, and the 4-0 scoreline flattered UCL. It was a game QM had been waiting for ever since Max Melling scored that famous last minute winner against league leaders Kings Medics in the last round. Ashley Sweetman faced a late pitch inspection as the icy conditions threatened a late postponement, which would
have left Tommy’s mum bitterly disappointed. UCL may have been a league above QM, but when it came to passing it was the boys from the East End who were handing out a footballing lesson. UCL had already taken a point from the fourths this season, but the ‘unofficial seconds’ were breaking through the UCL back-line with ease, much to the jealousy of onlooking fourths captain TJ Johnson who was in awe from start to finish. Ariq Hussain, often compared to a young and Asian Matt Le Tissier, scored two incredible solo goals before half time and the fifths were cruising. Even Mitch Ingram was looking good with his 13 year old toeless boots on. Ariq completed his hat trick shortly after the break with another great individual effort which sent substitutes Joe Howgego and Ricky Treadwell into choruses of “Que sera
t ho ee t a fr ad c.uk Ge ink is ul.a h dr th t is.qm i c w .muc
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» QM Fifths reach semi-final
www.providevolunteering.org. Finally, quick congratulations to Ashleigh Jay for her fantastic achievement! She has been selected to play a new modern version of Netball for England, and will represent her country on their tour to Australia. WELL DONE AJ!
Que, Sera, Sera...We’re going to Surrey
ever, faces closure after March 2012 if support and funding does not continue which would be a great shame with it helping such a great cause. If you’re interested in volunteering yourself, please go to their website: www.shadwellcommunityproject.org or go to
Image by Emma Swan
n Italian tratorria in Library Square n Delicious pizza and pasta n Coffee, drinks and desserts n Daily specials from £2.95 n Take away pizza available
QMESSENGER MONDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2012
Team GB champs set to become barefooted Shafi Musaddique Medal winning athletes could go bare-footed onto podiums this summer. It has been revealed this week that many top athletes at the 2012 Olympic Games could be in breach of their contracts with manufacturers and sponsors if they are forced to wear a Team GB presentation outfit produced by Adidas. There are fears that athletes such as Mo Farah and Mark Cavendish will win podium finishes, only to be embarrassed at the real final hurdle, the medal collection ceremony. The British Olympics Association (BOA) declared that both kit and footwear will be compulsory for podium finishing athletes – something that crosses the taboo boundaries of the modern technicalities of athlete sponsorship contracts. It has been suggested by some agents of Olympic athletes that wearing an Adidas kit will not be the problem. Rather, footwear is an essential centre piece of marketing that creates the possibility of disciplinary procedures from the BOA on athletes. Rather
Chris Hoy (above) and others set to become embroiled in shoegate
Image by Richard Parmiter via FlickR CC
like footballers and tennis players, such as Roger Federer who is supplied by Nike, the value of footwear
letes to walk bare footed onto podiums. Fortunately, Usain Bolt’s status as a Jamaican leaves him free
as a marketing tool is essential for athletes to be able to train and compete. The conflict could cause ath-
to publicise his Puma footwear on the podium – assuming that the almost certain prophesy of him bagging himself a medal is fulfilled. Competitors under the Team GB banner will be free to wear footwear of their choice during competitions. Yet, to surrender at the pinnacle of one’s career is a denigrating act by Team GB. In an age of gold-digging football players and over-hyped Super Bowl commercialisation, athletes are by and large left to fend for themselves. The medal winning athlete should be free to choose whom he or she represents on their kit. Great Britain should be proud to have a list of potential champions. That is what truly counts. Competitors most likely to be affected are those under the Nike umbrella: Mo Farah, Dai Greene, Kelly Sotherton, Paula Radcliffe and Perri Shakes-Drayton. Adidas claim to be unaware of the issue, leaving the matter firmly in the hands of the BOA. It seems that a summer storm of controversy is brewing in the world of sport, and who knows where it might lead.
Queen Mary FC thirds seize upon SSEES Joe Howgego SSEES 1s 0-3 QMUL 3rds With the January transfer window firmly shut behind them, QMFC 3rd team had the unenviable task of travelling to St. Albans in the bitter cold. Speculation was rife on deadline day as to whether the frozen pitches would be playable, but a glimmer of sunshine at dawn was welcomed by groundsman and player alike; none less than Josh Bowerman, who saw this frosty February afternoon as a perfect chance to top up his dwindling sun-bed tan. Third team captain Will Finlay’s fax machine had been run ragged during the January transfer window, however his efforts proved fruitless in finding emergency cover for highly rated Norwegian goalkeeper, Jørgen Mørk.
In a cruel twist of fate and proving many of his critics wrong in their metaphorical disparagement, the stalwart keeper was in fact able to catch a cold. With no-one offering themselves between the posts, the duty fell reluctantly to the captain himself. With the vast, open fields of St. Albans dominated by hostile wind, freezing temperatures, and a low, bright sun, neither defence was relishing the challenge ahead. A lack of goalkeeper and failure to keep a clean sheet all season only exasperated this anxiety among the QM back four, who managed to draft in full back Ollie Westlake in time for the fixture. Despite putting pen to paper on a deal reputed to include exception from kit washing duty, Westlake’s antics later that night at swanky Soho establishment Cheapskates could jeopardise the entire move a move which Finlay has yet to declare for tax purposes.
The first ten minutes of the game were dominated by the relentless weather conditions, with many stray passes falling victim to the prevailing wind. QM, however, were quicker to adapt, with Bowerman, Alfie Meekings and Joe Howgego able to dominate the central midfield with short, sharp passing. This industrious football soon bored Bowerman though, sending the summer signing on a mazy, meandering run deep into the opposing half. In a move now synonymous with the would-be number 17, the outcome rarely differs from the feeble scuff produced; enough to beat the keeper though, 1-0. With possession in the middle of the park bolstered in QM’s favour, Jie Liu was able to push forward from right back and deliver testing crosses into the penalty area. With 25 minutes played, Alex Smith was able to meet a Liu cross with his head, bring the ball
down, and slot past the goalkeeper to make it 2-0. Five minutes later, Liu delivered another looping cross, this time (mis)controlled superbly by the lone striker, Abu Khalid, who selflessly laid the ball off the edge of area. Meeting the tee with a sublime strike yet again was Smith, who for the sixth time this season, was able to produce an unstoppable effort. After half time, and now with Jose Realpe-Villacis in goal, QM were still able to dominate the game. The best chance of the half, and arguably of all time, fell to second half substitute Michael Shearer-Weller. After a sublime last ditch tackle from Chris Chan and decisive distribution from Anthony Lam Yan Yu, QM were able to break at speed, spraying the ball out to the right, and into the path of Shearer. With visions of tomorrow’s headlines already circulating the youngster’s head, he had only to slot the ball past the on-
coming keeper for the first goal of his senior career. There is some confusion as to how close his effort came to the target, although this reporter can only speculate as to whether the winger would even be able to finish his dinner. In a comparatively uneventful last 30 minutes, makeshift left back Ollie Westlake produced a phenomenal piece of skill, usually more indigenous to the arena mode on FIFA 12. The match was not over, however, and SSEES were able to break through QM’s faultless defence and get a fairly testing shot away. Luckily, Alex Smith had, by now, taken over the reins in goal and was able to produce a superb save to his right. Thankfully for the QM 3rd team, who face RUMS in the next round of the cup, Will Finlay has ruled himself out of a move to the national side amid lots of tabloid speculation, stating that his “focus remains on Queen Mary”.
Issue 56 of QMessenger, the student newspaper of Queen Mary, University of London. Reporting on new developments regarding the restructure o...
Published on Feb 9, 2012
Issue 56 of QMessenger, the student newspaper of Queen Mary, University of London. Reporting on new developments regarding the restructure o...