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Issue 53

Not-s0-smartphones New report reveals how the modern genration of mobile phones boosts stress levels Page 3

Monday January 23 2012

Are the fares fair? QMessenger asks whether or not the hike in public transport rates are justified. Page 7

The Newspaper of Queen Mary Students’ Union

Students threatened by campus intruder Stephanie Pickerill Last week saw an event held by the Queen Mary Atheism, Secularism and Humanism Society cancelled moments after it began when an intruder threatened to “hunt down” attendees. The talk, by Anne Marie Waters, a human rights lawyer and co-spokesperson for the Ex-Muslim Council of Britain, was invited to talk on whether Sharia Law violates human rights. At approximately 7pm, an unknown man entered the David Sizer lecture theatre and used his camera phone to record those present. According to Jennifer Hardy, president of the society, he shouted: “Listen up all of you, I am recording this, I have your faces on film now, and I know where some of you live” and threatened ramifications for anyone who criticised the prophet Mohammad. The man then left the room and two audience members supposedly applauded him. The unidentified man, thought to have been from outside the University, reportedly kept filming society members in the foyer and allegedly threatened to murder them and their families. On leaving the building, he joined a group of men waiting outside. “The lack of security in the lecture theatre meant we and the audience had to leave,” said Ms Hardy. Following the threat, a QMSU staff member who was attending the event advised the talk be cancelled and people’s safety put first. Queen Mary security were contacted for comment but had not responded to requests at the time of going to print. Earlier in the day a post by Abu_ Maryam entitled “Urgent- Calling all Muslims to East London today!!!” on the forum Islamic Awakening referred to the event.

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QM clubs and societies targeted by controversial social network Page 5

Anne Marie Waters was the speaker at the targeted event. Abu_Maryam called for Muslims to organise “to let them know what we think.” The writer asks “if a bunch of kuffar [non-believers] got together and were given the right to touch your mother up and analyse her, then would you stand by and let it happen?” “Back in my day no-one in uni would dare even look the wrong way at a Muslim, because we…didn’t take kindly to it being insulted.” Posts by others expressed their concern: “Please do not do something which would give Islam and Muslims unnecessary negative publicity.” Some forum members were worried about how the event would reflect on Islam and others argued that under Islamic law, non-Muslims should be allowed to question the religion. While others asked what action should or shouldn't be taken in response to the event, a later post says “We used to make the kuffar feel small and proper tell them off without resorting to violence and that is what happened today.”

The Queen Mary Islamic Society, immediately distanced themselves from the outburst, saying that they would have preferred to have seen Muslims engage in an intellectual debate. In a statement, QMSU said: “Our students’ safety is of absolute priority and we take such reports very seriously. We are confident our processes have been followed in organising the event and will be supportive of any investigations carried out by the Police or Queen Mary, University of London.” The college says that: “Queen Mary welcomes to its community students and staff of all faiths, and those of none. The democratic right to freedom of expression and debate is one Queen Mary strongly upholds and promotes. Equally the College is keenly aware of its duty of care to students and is committed to fulfilling this duty.” The Metropolitan Police are investigating after speaking to those present at the event.


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QMESSENGER MONDAY JANUARY 23 2012

News

Editorial Team: • Executive Editor - Sam Creighton vpcommunications@qmsu.org • Managing Editor - Caz Parra editor@qmessenger.co.uk • Sub-Editors - Robert Pritchard, Maria Sowter and Lauren Mason proof@qmessenger.co.uk • News Editors - Rosie Reynolds, Kaamil Ahmed and Ariane Osman news@qmessenger.co.uk • Comment Editors - Kashmira Gander and Stephanie Rankin comment@qmessenger.co.uk • Satire Editors - Ben Richardson and Aaron Barber satire@qmessenger.co.uk • Sports and Societies Editors - Shafi Musaddique, Hollie Carter and Ashley Sweetman sport@qmessenger.co.uk • Photography Editors - Keeren Flora and Bethia Stone photography@qmessenger.co.uk

You should be writing for us. Email any of the above email addresses to sign up to our award winning team and get your career in student media off to a flying start.

The Cloud How you fit into the news.

Workers at the consumer goods company Unilever have begun an 11-day strike to protest against the changes made to their pensions scheme.

The co-founder of Yahoo, Jerry Yang has decided to step down as a member of its board to pursue work outside the company.

Alternatively find us on facebook.com /QMessenger twitter.com/QMessenger

Thefounders foundersofofChatterbox Chatterbox The Analytics from Queen Mary’s Analytics from Queen Mary’s School Electronic EngineerSchool ofof Electronic Engineering and Computer Science ing and Computer Science at-attended a meeting at Downtended a meeting at Downing Street business and new ing Street onon business and new technology technology

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 forusnottokeepaneagleeyeonouronline presence. So, here are the best messages tweeted @QMessenger this week. Feelin’ proud about this week’s Comment section in @QMessenger!

Looking forward to hearing @QMessenger ‘s thoughts on Luluvise.

Pick up a copy of @QMessenger and @QMSCI today.We both know you’re not going to do that work anyway.

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Labour leader Ed Miliband attacked Prime Minister David Cameron’s employment policies last week in parliament as figures showed unemployment rose by 118,000 to 2.68 million in the past three months.

Major websites decided to shut down last week to protest the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ (SOPA) and the Senate’s Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) which are being debated by congressmen in the US.

Last minute plans to stop the Greek economy from defaulting may be blocked by public sector bondholders who refuse to let the deal pass unless they are awarded a payout for having bought Greek bonds at significantly lower prices.

Searches looking for survivors of the Costa Concordia shipwreck off the coast of Italy have been halted due to the instability of the cruise ship, which is starting to sink into the sea.

By Ariane Osman Images by: Yahoo Image by Nando Quintana Costa Concordia Image by Robert Lender (Flickr) Ed Miliband Image by Edward Miliband for Leader campaign (Flickr)

QM historian sheds light on Crusades in new series for the BBC Rosie Reynolds Kaamil Ahmed A Queen Mary history academic is presenting a new series about the history of the Crusades for the BBC. The expert on Medieval History visited locations in Europe, Middle East and North Africa while filming the three-part series. Dr Asbridge traced the history of the two century war by visiting archives and religious sites including the “Holy Land” in Jerusalem in order to reveal more about how the war was really fought. Dr Asbridge said that the series will shed light on a new aspect of the war “This landmark series will be controversial, because it challenges the most ingrained miscon-

ceptions surrounding the crusades: the notion that these holy wars were all about greed and plunder; the image of Saladin – the Islamic icon – as a paragon of justice and clemency; and the myth that the medieval crusades sparked a clash of civilisations between Islam and the West that continues to this day.” The episodes will cover the epic journey of the first crusaders who travelled over 3000 miles on foot to recapture the city of Jerusalem from Islam, as well as exploring renowned figures from the Crusades such as Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. Dr Asbridge is the director of QM’s new MA in Islam and the West. The series, which started last week, airs on BBC2 at 9.30pm on Wednesdays.


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QMESSENGER MONDAY JANUARY 23 2012

News

Student Wonga Smartphones cause stress says new study is no longer Max Burman

Image bySimonQ (via flickr)

Alex Badrick New research published by the British Psychological Society suggests a link between smartphone use and increased stress. According to the research, the team found that some smartphone users “get caught up” compulsively looking for new messages – with some stressed participants experiencing “phantom” alerts – and found a link between the number of times participants checked their phone and their stress levels. The researchers, who also noted the smartphone’s role in reducing

work life stress, surveyed and tested over 100 participants from a wide range of occupations. “Smartphone use is increasing at a rapid rate and we are likely to see an associated increase in stress from social networking. Organisations should encourage employees to switch their phones off,” said University of Worcester psychologist Richard Balding, presenting the study’s findings. Many students and young people appear to be addicted to their smart phones. The BlackBerry phone has informally been christened the “CrackBerry” because of its addictive

nature. Second year Linguistics student Bethia Stone said the study’s results match her own experience. “I can’t get away from work or anything university-related because all my emails go to my phone and I don’t feel like I can turn it off.” Last year a study conducted by researchers at Queen Mary and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found traces of E.coli – normally found in the intestines – on 16% of mobile phones, indicating many users do not take the time to wash their hands after using the toilet before checking their phone.

Twitter was in uproar last week after it emerged that short-term money lender Wonga was offering students an alternative to the Government backed Student Loan Company at the price of excessive interest payments. Wonga, who have recently landed high-profile sponsorship deals with TfL and ESPN, promised on their website “a totally new way of borrowing money to see you through until your next cheque,” only to later reveal the loans held annual interest rates of 4,214 per cent. MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy, has been fighting a campaign against what she brands “legal loan sharking” and was not impressed with the company. “As a London MP you cannot help but see the damage legal loan sharking is doing to our communities here. I've tabled legislation to try to deal with the worst excesses of these companies and protect the poorest consumers in the capital but Wonga have written to me opposing these proposals.” NUS vice-president Pete Mercer criticised the offer for being “aimed at financially vulnerable young people.” He continued, “it is highly irresponsi-

ble of any company to suggest to students that high-cost short-term loans be a part of their everyday financial planning.” Fortunately, QMessenger has been unable to unearth anyone who decided to take up the offer here at Queen Mary. Asked if they had ever considered similar alternatives for shortterm cash, one student responded simply “4000% APR has never appealed to me, sorry.” Another went further, expressing their dismay at the “exploitative and misleading offer.” “I really hope this ‘payday loans, not student loans’ ploy backfires spectacularly, it is exploitative and misleading. Wonga are es-

sent i a l l y licensed modern day loan sharks, it is disgraceful of them to even consider targeting students. I seriously hope nobody falls for this”. QMSU vice-president education and welfare Oscar Williamson commented: “There are circumstances in which a Wonga loan would be a good idea, but these circumstances so seldom come about that the company’s claims to be helping the economically disenfranchised are totally disengenous.”

Academics reveal fears over grade inflation » The amount of students graduating with first-class degrees has more than doubled in the past decade Alexander Penn Academics are fearing “grade inflation”, due to the number of students gaining first-class degrees more than doubling in the last decade. The figures, recently revealed by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, showed that nearly 54,000 undergraduates finished courses last summer with firsts – a 125% increase in a decade. Exceeding the overall increase in the student population over the same period, the surge has sparked fears that academics are under pressure to hand out high marks to boost universities’ positions in league tables. Last week, university leaders slammed the 200 year-old system,

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Image by University of Nottingham (via flickr) of first, second and third class de- cruiters, states a fall in employers’ grees, as a “blunt instrument for as- regard for top degrees due to the sessing achievement”. increase in high grades: “Over the Carl Gilleard, chief executive of past decade, employers have bethe Association of Graduate Re- come less confident that the degree

class in itself tells them what they need to know. Employers see the growth in academic success rates, coupled with expansion of higher education, and are driven to develop sophisticated assessment tools that give them better insights in the capability and potential of candidates who apply to work for them.” He said: “It is an indication that the degree class isn’t regarded now as being the most accurate measurement of what somebody has achieved.” Mike Harris, head of policy development at the Institute of Directors, conceded that “degree classification can be a starting line for recruitment”, but “not the final words factors such as work experience and wider employability skills are often far more important to employers.”

In the next academic year, universities plan to introduce a graduate “report card”, which will detail a more rounded account of the student’s academic and extra-curricular achievements, coupled with their actual degree grade. “The whole system of degree classification does need reform,” said David Willetts, the Universities Minister. “That is why our white paper proposes that most institutions should develop Higher Education Achievement Reports for all their undergraduates from 2012. This will be a more useful measure of performance.” Universities UK, the organisation representing vice-chancellors, continue to support “the ongoing trialling” of the more detailed model of assessment.


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QMESSENGER MONDAY JANUARY 23 2012

News

Employers warned over social media snooping » Report says employers who check potential employees social media profiles before interview could be sued Rosie Reynolds Companies who use Facebook and Twitter to vet potential employees could be breaking employment and data protection laws and are leaving themselves wide open to lawsuits, warns a new psychology report. A report presented to the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology found that an interviewee who was not offered a job after their potential employer had visited their Facebook or Twitter page could sue on the grounds that a decision had been made based on a subjective bias - age, race or gender. More and more employers are accessing candidates’ social media pages to gain an insight into the kind of person they’re really hiring. Hiringmonster.com, a US website that guides companies through the hiring process, says: “There is plenty of lawful information to be had from social me-

dia. Does your candidate have a Twitter account that she regularly updates with thoughtful tweets? Does his social media presence demonstrate a deeper interest in the type of job he is pursuing?” Some professions place social networking higher than others - for example, employers would expect that someone who has applied for a marketing position should be able to market themselves well online. Similarly, someone applying for a job in PR should show that they are well versed in social media because it has become such an integral part of that job. Sam Pierson, a marketing student based in London, thinks that Facebook, and especially Twitter, are important tools in helping him build his career. “You have to make sure you have a virtual footprint. When people type product or event names into Google, your name or your company’s name needs to be linked, usually through social networking sites.” Sam also uses Twitter to gain new career opportunities. “I found out

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Beat the Winter Blues at

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The deaths of two cyclists at the Bow roundabout towards the end of last year have forced Transport for London into proposing radical changes to protect cyclists. Despite Boris Johnson’s early refusals to accept that the layout of the roundabout was a problem, the pressure by road cycling activists to “make Bow safe” has increased in recent months. Cycle Superhighways have been put in place on some of London’s busiest routes over the past year, but seem to have not worked in Bow where a TfL report recommended either the creation of a dedicated cycling lane or a new set of traffic lights that would allow for cyclists to be separate from the rest of the traffic. Femi Anderson, a second year Film student said that the road safety for cyclists at the roundabout and in London in general is too often ignored. “The Bow flyover has always been a scary place for cyclists, ignoring those crazy daredevils who actually go over it, and clear demarcation of cyclists' space and pedestrian space is as needed there as it is everywhere else in London,” said Anderson. “The roundabout beneath it is as deadly a place as the actual flyover, due to the lack

of visual indicators for pedestrians and cyclists that demonstrate safe passage.” Despite many calls for changes to the roundabout that would cater for both cyclists and pedestrians coming before the deaths, only a few months ago the Mayor of London was denying that the issue of safety was due to the road layout. “I do think there is a problem to do with drivers of HGVs and tipper trucks and cement mixers,” said Johnson, who focused on educating drivers of large vehicles. “If there were a simple engineering solution then of course we can look into that.” Pressure from members of the Greater London Assembly has been building on the Mayor with John Biggs, the representative for City and East and fierce opponent of Johnson, being particularly critical of the Mayor’s plans for the roundabout. However, Jenny Jones the Green Party’s Mayoral candidate for the upcoming election was not wholly convinced about the new plans. “The Mayor should have listened and got Bow roundabout right in the first place, before two people died. Neither design is convincing as neither caters for pedestrians.” A cycling safety campaign saw 2,750 cyclists write to the Mayor, asking him to “Make Bow safe” after the two deaths last year.

possible? While it would be fine to disregard this candidate after an interview, the law takes a dim view on disregarding them after an online snoop. “If you choose to review social media as part of your hiring practices, it’s a better practice to wait until after you’ve met a candidate face to face,” says David Baffa, labour and employment partner at national law firm Seyfarth Shaw, LLP. It’s assumed that it’s more likely that an employer will make snap decisions based on protected characteristics like age, race, gender or disabilities if they’re only viewing the candidate on a computer screen. Companies can protect themselves by informing candidates that they will be viewing any and all publicly posted social media accounts - a ‘heads up’. That way the candidates can make sure that whatever is posted by them and about them is appropriate, and legally employers can treat any negative information the same way as if it had been disclosed in an interview.

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Kaamil Ahmed

However it is easy to imagine the tricky situations that could arise out of checking a candidate’s private Facebook page. What if, for example, a job required lots of strenuous activity, but the candidate’s profile picture revealed them to have some kind of disability that would make this im-

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Radical changes makes Bow flyover safer for cyclists

about an advertising company in Seattle who were looking for an intern, so I contacted them through Twitter and they hired me. I’m sure I wouldn’t have got the internship if there wasn’t evidence of my experience and style right there for them to see on my Twitter account.”


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QMESSENGER MONDAY JANUARY 23 2012

Newsfocus

‘Sexist’ start-up launches to QM socs

Luluvise creator Alexandra Chong meets with Prime Minister David Cameron

Ruth Faulkner “Girl time all the time” is the strap line of new, girls only social networking site Luluvise, currently creating a minor tech storm because of an interesting concept combining exclusive membership with a controversial feature set. The network, launched on December 13th 2011, allows women to discuss news, dilemmas and gossip in ‘scoops’ to a tight circle of ‘BFFs’ selected from their Facebook friends. “There’s certain things I don’t want all my friends to know about”, said Etka Khanna, a QMUL graduate now working for the company. “Facebook’s privacy settings keep changing and it’s generally very confusing. My whole family are on there, Luluvise is much more intimate.” By far the most controversial of ‘scoops’ is WikiDate. The feature works on top of a database which pulls male friends from each user’s Facebook that girls can then rate, sharing the scores formulated by a series of questions with other users. Questions vary from the ‘sense of humour’, to ‘kissing style’ and ‘sexual performance’, the only two questions that can be skipped; guys must be rated on ‘commitment’, ‘appearance’, ‘ambition’ and ‘manners’. These work on a sliding scale, with each section scoring from one to five. Each value comes with a fun contextual simulation – kisses from “slobber city” to “ahhhhmazing”, and sex from “All I could think was... is he into girls?” to “I had no idea that was physically possible”. WikiDate is one of the stand-out features of the site: “But I don’t think it’s a key feature”, said Serena Holcombe, QM Angels Events Secretary, “it’s very tongue in cheek and [the site is] more about keeping in touch with your friends in a clean and straight forward manner.”

Targeting young women aged 18-35, Luluvise have focused in on Queen Mary’s female societies to expand initial sign ups. Luluvise staff have approached female societies such as QM Angels and Contemporary Dance amongst others as part of their ambassador programme. Ekta Khanna, Luluvise staff member and 2010 QMUL graduate said: “We’re building a product perfect for QM girls. We were going to target Oxford and Cambridge, but with QM a campus university, with all your societies, Drapers, the library – it’s such a community. Luluvise is all about being proud of your community.” Khanna was member of BLAST, Synergy and belly-dancing in her time at QM and will also be holding sessions with Barts societies soon. She is offering students the opportunity to advertise the network in exchange for a number of incentives ranging from the chance to write on the blog, participating in competitions, getting sponsorships for their society or club and even internship opportunities within the company. She said: “Once we find out how interested girls at QM are, we’d love to go further, from talking to the Students’ Union to Hail Mary nights... we want to listen to the girls who are using the site themselves.” The site target is based on industry evidence that women generate more than 70% of the messaging activity on Facebook, spend 35% more time on social networks than men, and drive 80% of all consumer spending. In addition to this evidence, personal experiences by Canadian CEO and founder Alexandra Chong, aged 30, led to the concept’s realisation. “Luluvise was an idea I had based on an experience I had where I realised I needed the product.” After a Valentines date two years ago, the idea materialised for the entrepreneur: “All my girlfriends are scat-

tered around, some are in London, some are in the States, some are in Sri Lanka. After the date, I had all these text messages, Facebook messages, Skype, and emails. I spent six hours, retelling the same story, but by the end of it was so tired. I just wished there was one place that was private, and was where all my girlfriends were.” Luluvise has been described by some users as ‘Sex and the City meets Facebook’, and draws users in on the basis that Facebook is no longer private or exclusive to discuss personal things, despite Facebook’s recent heavy addition of privacy features and private listing. Joelle Hadfield of the company, and a City University graduate, said: “Facebook is becoming a bit stalker-ish, I don’t post anything interesting on there.” Chong reiterated this point, “Facebook is amazing, but it’s very public, it’s not a private place that I can talk about the reality of situations, you know the details of the date... Luluvise is that platform.” In March 2011, Alexandra Chong quit her day job and focused it all on Luluvise, gaining her ex-boss as the first of many angel investors, including Last Minute.com’s Brent Hoberman. Since then the office was set up in London, with 10 employees and has received $1 million in funding from Passion Capital, ProFouders Capital and other investors. With this rise in publicity, the site has come under further scrutiny, with the WikiDate feature at the centre of this. TechCrunch’s Mike Butcher argued that the site could see libel claims filed against it because of possible false reviews. He wrote on the TechCrunch site: “Technically speaking, a man in a committed relationship may err, and then find himself “reviewed” on the site. Thus a “review” on a site frequented by women rating men on things like perfor-

mance in bed could well be construed by a judge in a court of law that it has ‘lowered him in the minds of right thinking members of society’ (as libel law would have it) since the man both claimed to be committed but had also been ‘reviewed’ for his sexual performance by other women.” Joelle Hadfield responded to the libel worries for Luluvise, saying: “Mike Butcher is a very good friend of Luluvise... We’ve got the best lawyers available. Any time there are any changes to the site we always refer it to our lawyers first. When men are on Facebook they’ve already given over a photograph.” Outside of the libel concerns, there are also some worries that men may feel objectified or uncomfortable with the rating system. Not only can they not access their own profile, but girls who looked on the site for them also wouldn’t know who rated them or their individual score to the questions indicated above, they would only see the final rating. While some guys are put off by this, others are proud of their reviews, even tweeting screen shots of their profiles sent to them by female users. Alexandra Chong addressed these mixed reviews, saying: “We just wanted to make it a little bit of fun. Something that would be fun, would be light-hearted, something that wouldn’t ruin the guy’s life. It wouldn’t be an empty box to say whatever you want; there are some sites that actually allow you to do that. That’s what the whole WikiDate idea is. We’ve had mixed reviews, but it’s like any product or service – it’s either for you or it’s not.” The option to remove a profile from the site is only accessible within the walls of the site. Therefore a man would be unable to use the function unless logged in using the account of a female friend. “We’ve only had about nine requests for removal,”

Image by Chris Radburn said Chong. “But you can’t imagine the amount of guys we’ve had trying to join,” she exclaims. “Thousands!” We asked what the Luluvise staff would think of a website that reviews them in the same manner.“If guys want to go and create a place for boy time, all the time, then we completely welcome it,” replies Chong. “We don’t expect they will, because we don’t think they communicate the way girls do. I’ll be interested to see if they come up with a Guysvise.” Despite Luluvise having only had nine requests for removals, it’s very much possible that all nine of these profiles could be back online. QMessenger has discovered that, at the time of printing, the company does not prevent Facebook accounts from being re-registered to the database, allowing future reviews even after a first removal has been requested. Girls have also spoken out against the site. Wanda Canton, Queen Mary’s Women’s Officer and Founder of QMEquality, disagreed with the website’s generalisations, saying: “According to Luluvise I ‘appear to be a dude’. Perhaps because this site is incredibly hetero-normative, it does not recognise the diversity in our interests, politics, identities and thus questions: can I possibly be a woman? From what I’ve heard the website seems geared around discussing men, rating men, and much to the despair of stereotypes, this isn’t my favourite past time.” Chong disputed these, saying: “What do girls do when they get together, what are the topics that they chat about – a very obvious topic is boys, guys that they have crushes on. This is not to say that this is just for girls who talk about boys, or it’s for airheads. You have very very bright women who still have fun in their life, have a guy crush and talk about it with their girlfriends, and that’s OK too, right?”

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QMESSENGER MONDAY JANUARY 23 2012

Comment

The Great Debate

Is the recent change in rail fares fair? Will Luluvise face same fate as Nuts? After investigation of the Luluvise website, our editorial team have been almost unanimous in finding the site, and its targeting of Queen Mary students, to be concerning. The manner in which the website operates initially is merely comical and, at worst, spammy in trying to get you to add new members from your friends list; but after digging deeper into the operation, we cannot help but see the opportunity for malice lurking behind closed walls, unbeknownst to those being critiqued. As this week’s comment piece (see page 9) on the subject hypothesises, it is unlikely that a company would be permitted to operate in the same manner if it encouraged men to ‘review’ women. Bearing in mind that, last year, a council motion banned ‘lads mags’ from SU venues, we can’t help but draw parallels between the perceived objectification of women in those magazines and that of men on this website. One must wonder if any of the students against this will go so far as to put a motion forward to Council as it happened last year. If Luluvise goes ahead with its plan to sponsor QM societies, clubs and events in its current form, the company will plan to make significant improvements; we cannot see how it would be deemed acceptable.

Freedom Impeached? After a discussion about this weeks unwelcome outburst during an Atheist society event, one can’t help but worry for the welfare of freedom of expression at Queen Mary. Technically speaking, if we are to abide by the rules of Freedom of speech, Religion can be reduced to personal opinion; atheism, in this sense, also falls under this bracket. In this modern world, who’s to say another’s beliefs are wrong? The beauty of this University has always been the eclectic mix of views that we celebrate as a student community. Not only is it inherently unfair for a man to jump in and undermine another’s beliefs, but to threaten violence is morally wrong. This doesn’t mean that healthy debates aren’t welcome, but the right to express varied opinions should be respected. Coming to a debate with an aggressive tone and lack of tolarance, is detrimental not only to your own argument, but those who share your beliefs; it’s not what we come to University for.

Yes Mike Brown It’s probably best to start this off by saying that this situation isn’t ideal. I don’t support higher fares because I’m a masochist that hates having money. But let’s take a step back here: through a series of unfortunate circumstances, we have a privatised rail network, a government making public spending cutbacks, and a rapidly expanding transport system. As it is, we have a pretty sweet transport system. Take the area around Queen Mary: the overground down the road just got extended to Highbury and Islington, with a further extension planned across south London, forming a giant circle around the city. The DLR just got a new branch, so you can go straight from Westfield to London City Airport. Not forgetting Crossrail, the ambitious plan to shove full-size trains hurling underground from Reading to Shenfield. It’s a long way off, but it’s expected to cost around £15 billion and is the biggest construction project in Europe at the moment. Other big changes are happening elsewhere. Take for instance High Speed 2. It’s big, it’s fast, and not everyone agrees with it, but it’s hard to say the rail network isn’t moving forward. And then there’s the smaller boosts. Anyone who’s got the Metropolitan line recently will have seen some trains are smoother with air conditioning, and eventually, even the Circle line won’t feel like a steaming pile of crap. It’s all change. A lot of arguments against fare increases are targeted at how far behind our rail system is compared to

other countries. Germany and its neighbouring countries have the InterCity Express, France’s LGV Rhin-Rhône recently began offering superfast travel, and world leaders China have nearly 10,000km of high-speed rail in operation. Paris’ RER has managed to beat Crossrail by decades, with an extension to its fifth line already planned. It’s true that our network has some catching up to do. But an even worse situation would be having a dilapidated rail network at an alright price. Trains aren’t exactly cheap as it is, and unless you agree to travel at an ungodly hour it’s hard to find a good deal. Oh, and you need to plan weeks in advance. And a rail card would help. And don’t even think about missing the train by a minute, because National Rail are ruthless and take pity on no one (speaking from personal experience). The problem is working with an awkward set of companies to try and fund the network in a way that’s fair. But it needs funding from somewhere, and I’m tired of suffocating every time I get on the Central line at rush hour, or having to stand in the freezing cold at Camden Road because there’s not enough overground trains. When it’s done, High Speed 2 is expected to have cost £30 billion. Tube drivers are crying out for higher pay. And money needs to come from somewhere to put more trains on tracks at stupid o’ clock. The Coalition government are clearly not ones for raising taxes to try and fund services like this. If the alternative to raising fares is a neglected system, give me the higher fares. Mike Brown is a second-year English Literature student.

Image by Maria D’Amico

No Alexander Sarychkin As a regular user of the transport system, it is with a heavy heart that I say I have largely become used to the fact that every January, we’re ushered into the new year with a few hours of free travel before suddenly, we’re paying more than we were before. I say I’ve grown use to this because it seems like that has happened every year, and always with promises of ‘improved service’ and ‘expanded access.’ The rises, of course, coincide with the fact that London will be hosting the Olympic games – something taxpayers are already footing the bill for. The amount of extra people on the train will be phenomenal, and there is work that needs doing on these trains in order for them to be ready in time for the Games. Yet, despite all the rises and the promises, it still does not appear that the money we’re spending is truly preparing this city for what will be one of the busiest times in its history. Sometimes, it seems that we’re being asked to foot the bill for a battle we will never win – parts of the tube system are still running on an arrangement that was ideal in the 19th century, how can we expect it to withstand the pressures of even more commuters? We are asked to pay for a service that, in my opinion, should be free. The rail system, both overground and underground, is a service for the public, aiding people in transportation to and from work. In London, the underground connects and forges links between sections that would otherwise be completely alien to each other. Without the underground, how would one be able to attend a job interview in Nunhead,

when your home is in Edgware? As something that aids a city’s prosperity, rail should be seen, not as a business venture, but as an opportunity to give back to the people who are ultimately supporting the city itself. In the Soviet Union, the Moscow Metro underground network operated on a national fare system, where the fare was no more than a penny. As a state owned construction, the metro was treated as a gift to the people, to aid and further the prosperity of the city. I’ve lived in London my entire life and despite all these rises, I haven’t really seen much of a change in the way that our rail system runs. Delays are still frequent, engineering works still run long over their planned finish date, our money is still used to fund new buses that look just like the old buses, but cost more than a million pounds each to make; while we’re left out of pocket and underwhelmed. If I had a train system to be proud of, then perhaps I wouldn’t mind being asked to pay more. However, the clincher, the moment I knew that these rises were simply extortionate and unwarranted, was waiting at Mill Hill Broadway station for a First Capital Connect (Farce Crapital Corrupt) train back to King’s Cross that was delayed, then delayed again, then again, till it was 15 minutes late, then it was cancelled, then the next service was delayed, and delayed again. When it finally arrived it was made up of three coaches, that were all packed. The doors didn’t even open. This was a Monday afternoon and it occurs on a regular basis. Why should I foot the bill for it? Alexander Sarychkin is a second-year English Literature student and cofounder of Diverge www.dvrg.co.uk.

comment@qmessenger.co.uk


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QMESSENGER MONDAY JANUARY 23 2012

Comment

Romney: who the right really stand for

As the race for the Republican leader heats up, can Mitt Romney prove he is the perfect candidate to take on Obama in November?

Max Burman

the great Socialist Satan inhabiting the White House? The truth is, they don’t exist, which is why the Republicans have finally given up the ghost and relented to the inevitability of nominating Romney. Romney has run a campaign characterised by a somewhat understandable disdain for his opponents, consistently taking aim at President Obama rather than any Republican rivals. Positioning himself as the voice of the Conservative Right is not, however, that simple. Once an independent, Romney

While British politics is preoccupied with the debate over Scottish independence, across the Atlantic they have bigger fish to, ahem, fry. With the Presidential election coming in November, the Republican Party are currently soldiering through the process of nominating a candidate to rival the President. We may only be a few weeks into a contest that will go on until August, but I think it’s safe for me to now call the race for Mitt Romney. Having narrowly edged out Googlesearch phenomenon and sweatervest-rocking Evangelical Rick Santorum in Iowa, Romney cruised to victory in New Hampshire with close to 40% of the vote. The next primary moves the six candidates to South Carolina, where Romney’s rivals have already begun to take the desperate pot-shots characteristic of an ailing campaign. Such certainty in the outcome of ran for the Republican nomination this particular race is all the more in 2004 as a moderate on the back depressing as, for so long in the of a Governorship in Massachusetts, build-up, its respective runners had that saw him institute an individual provided such tremendous enter- mandate healthcare system uncantainment. Alas, neither Herman nily similar to that which President ‘The Herminator’ Cain, nor Michelle Obama passed through a hostile ConBachmann, have lasted. Jon Hunts- gress. This undermines his own creman and Rick Perry are little more dentials and allows opponents such than an irrelevance, while former as Newt Gingrich to label him the Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich ‘Massachusetts moderate’, moderate is throwing bucket loads of mud, in here a pejorative of course. However, the hope enough will eventually stick as one Republican blogger pointed to the frontrunner. out recently, this also weakens RomSo, who is this great Conservative ney in a fight against Obama. Healthideologue capable of uniting the Re- care has been perhaps the greatest publican Party and storming to sen- controversy of Obama’s Presidency, sational victory in November against yet Romney’s moderate history dis-

For so long the race’s respective runners had provided such entertainment

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arms the President’s opponents of,, arguably, their most potent weapon. Without the healthcare stick with which to clobber Obama, Republican strategists will no doubt have been preparing attack ad after attack ad on Obama’s jobs record. Unemployment figures have remained in the high single digits, and whatever the truth about the state of the economy Bush left behind, Obama’s approval ratings is testament to his weakness on the issue that surely matters most to ‘ordinary’ Americans. An open goal then, surely? Except, Romney’s history once again looks set to complicate things. So keen to stress that he is not ‘a career politician’, Romney instead sought to paint himself as the ideal tonic for the American economy by drawing attention to his credentials in the private sector. Attention was just what his record received, in particular, Romney’s time at a company named Bain Capital. Rick Perry pounced on the questionable ethics Romney had seemingly practiced, repeatedly branding the frontrunner a ‘vulture capitalist’. This line of attack was only given greater potency by Romney’s unfortunate statement “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” Now, Romney may have actually been talking about the joys of the free market, but given the loose relationship between his rivals and the truth, it is easy to see how such a quote can be distorted. Beyond the problems of securing the nomination, this battle may be indicative of a far more serious issue at hand for Romney and the Republicans. His rivals had barely perfected their stump speech on the

Image by Gage Skidmore

flaws of unabashed free market Capitalism before the party establishment had to remind them that these were things they are in favour of. Memories duly jogged, normality was re-

of those feeling both downtrodden and dissatisfied with the President, who so boldly vowed to bring them change. It was this appeal to working-class America which led the likes of Perry to forget that, in reality, the Republican Party has no qualms with the policies that helped bring forth the economic collapse. Unemployment is an issue that does concern them, but the answer they offer is deregulation of business. This would, perhaps, not be such a problem. Dress rich people up as ‘job creators’ and elitist policies as the ‘pursuit of freedom’ and you have a persuasive argument. Unfortunately for them, this rhetoric is undermined stored and Romney was once more by facts. Obama’s stimulus package, criticised for being a Republican In so staunchly opposed by the Right, Name Only, rather than the very epit- looks as if it may be working. Unemome of Republican economic beliefs. ployment is down to 8.5%, the lowest You see, the Republican Party has since October 2009. The US economy found in Romney, a candidate who is showing signs of improvement, says exactly what they say they want along with Obama’s approval. to hear and still has a realistic shot As Jon Stewart said, if the GOP took at the White House, and yet they are out an internet dating ad, Romney not satisfied. There is something that would be their perfect match. Romjust isn’t quite right about Romney, ney is the candidate of what the Reand it could undermine their chances publican Party stand for; who they reagainst Obama. Having gone from ally stand for, not who they’d have the independent, to moderate, to raging American people believe. He will be the conservative, Romney has broadly Republican nominee, and he will pose tracked the pattern of public opin- a serious threat to Obama, but perhaps ion in a country that has steadily the Republicans’ unease is based on shifted right. But in the fallout from the concern that the more they get to the economic crisis of 2008 (aided know Romney, the more the American in no small part by the policies of people will realise he doesn’t represent President Bush and the Republican them; showing that the Republican Party), the Right never was a natural Party doesn’t really represent them partner for public anger at corporate either. greed. Somehow though, as illustrated by the impact of the radical Tea Max Burman is a first-year Politics Party movement, conservative senti- student and a member of the Labour ment has taken hold amongst many Society.

has “Romney tracked the

pattern of public opinion in a country which has shifted right


9

QMESSENGER MONDAY JANUARY 23 2012

Luluvise: sexist & unwise

Comment Sabb officers must engage with the national debates

Matthew TK Taylor

Ross Speer

Allow me, for two paragraphs – although those who know me might consider this normal – to be offensive, insensitive, and, as ever, serious in a thoroughly sarcastic manner. I’ve had an idea recently, following a series of successful, hypothetical and unlikely dates, that I have an insatiable desire to share the details of these women with my ‘guy friends’. Where do I go? Of course, to Facebook, where I create a little inner circle of people that I secretly discuss these women in right under their noses. Of course, this isn’t really enough, so I get together with some developers and build a website that layers on top of Facebook. I invite all my male friends to it, it imports all their female friends and their profile pictures, and we go on a rating spree: who’s most faithful, most attractive, most ambitious, even best in bed. All without them having any idea this is going on. Oh, but it’s only natural for us to do this so why not have a dedicated site to practice it on? And while we’re at it, let’s ask all our members some questions: what’s the worst quality in women, guys? Their whining? Or their whining? What a wonderful, sexist, male camaraderie we have here. Unless you haven’t read the rest of this week’s paper before now Alexandra Chong is the creator of controversial social network Luluvise. – and if not I encourage you to do Image by Siim Teller via Flickr CC so – you’ll know that I’m, in a longwinded way, talking about Luluvise, Now it’s not to say that what we should conform to our student the latest in British start-ups to Luluvise is doing isn’t legal, though apathy toward action, and accept take a dig at social networking in a UK libel law does not lend itself that bribery through free drinks very specific way. The exact gender- kindly to this kind of system, but the and event-sponsorship is worth reversal of what I’ve just described real question is that of whether a site degrading ourselves for. Or perhaps is what Luluvise offers: a private, such as this is moral. In presenting for once in our lives we can make girls-only area for the discussion the male equivalent, I hope that in a difference and put a stop to this of guys, pulled from their Facebook some way I’ve demonstrated that straight out of the blocks: it is not profiles, without their knowledge. a sexist site that discriminated to acceptable, and it never will be. The network is currently making a rate women would not be accepted stab at female university students, by the mainstream, so why should Matthew TK Taylor is a second year Linand it’s starting in the UK with Queen Mary students be promoting guistics student and QMessenger OnQueen Mary societies. the same demon reversed? Maybe line’s Technology editor.

One comment in particular stuck out in the recent Sabb interview printed in QMessenger 52. This was QMSU President Sophie Richardson’s admission that “her biggest disappointment has been losing the tuition fee vote.” She commented that QM had “gone from being quite an activities focused union to all of a sudden having all this political activism on campus.” Comments such as this are to be welcomed as an indication of the hard work that sabbatical and some part-time officers have put in to the anti-cuts anti-fees campaign and emphasises the central role QMSU has played in mobilising students both to take part in demonstrations and in support of lecturers taking strike action. Of course, QM followed the general

Parliament “What does the streets can undo ” trajectory of the student movement which was to shoot up like a rocket and fall like a stick; political activity was to generally drop off after the winter of 2010, leaving a rump of a movement. This has somewhat been rejuvenated in support of the recent strikes on June 30th and November 30th and much anger remains bubbling below the surface, but has remained devoid of the type of rallying point that the tuition fees vote served, as somewhat understandably neither the complicated Education White Paper nor working class struggle over pensions has galvanised students in quite the same way. The disappointment in losing the tuition fee vote is one I share with Richardson, but two points remain. Parliament is only one site of struggle – and what parliament does the

streets can undo. The second point is, then, that the fight is not over. The strike on November 30th far surpassed the student movement in both size and importance. It’s up to students now to make sure they are part of any future strikes (and it is highly likely there will be more), thereby making sure free education and the fight against education cuts is part of any organically formed progressive agenda. This September will see the first intake of students that will graduate with debt of £50k-£60k. And this is only one aspect of the austerity measures that will burden our generation. The NUS has so far failed to organise a single action against cuts and fees this year, even with a President that ran on a manifesto of “more national demonstrations.” Predictably, many candidates will run in the upcoming student elections on one of two points; concentrating on the small battles and ignoring the national political ones or depoliticising rhetoric of “representing all students.” The former strategy is devoid of content; the small battles to make life a little better will pale in comparison to the burden of debt about to be imposed upon students, the latter strategy remains a cheap bureaucratic trick putting popularity above harsh reality. I do not seek to argue we should simply ignore the little things, but the fight against fees and cuts must remain central to the program of our student organisations. To give up now is to condemn an entire generation to a lifetime of crippling debt. Students have proved time and time again that they can act as a potent political force and are certainly all the more powerful acting in alliance with the organised working class. This fight is too important to give up on; remember that when you cast your ballots in the student elections. Ross Speer is a third year Politics and History student and President of SWSS.

Intimidation at Sharia Law debate was an attack on freedom Josh Lee For better or for worse, university creates a sort of bubble in the wider society in which it resides. Whilst this can result in an underdeveloped sense of social responsibility (because far too many of us have vomited in the Drapers loos or heckled some poor bloke outside Dixie Chicken) it does, much more positively, generate a safe space where we can discuss ideas openly regardless of race, gender, sexuality or any other difference that, outside of university

walls, forms a divide. This is probably why the recent intimidation of students during a debate hosted by the Atheism, Secularism and Humanism Society at Queen Mary has struck a chord with so many students. Of course the discussion of Sharia Law and human rights is controversial and it’s a subject that has the potential to upset people, but for many of us one of the most brilliant aspects of university is the fact that our ability to speak freely is defended not only by the same laws that protect society at large, but by our relatively

small size, the culture of free discourse that is encouraged across all degrees and, we would hope, a security team that can protect students from people that try to compromise our safety. By bursting into a debate, filming and then threatening students, the unidentified man who burst in on the debate not only unacceptably intimidated students and forced what could have been an incredible debate to close, he forced us to question how the culture of university is safeguarded. How is it that students are hounded off campus for smoking while unidentified

people are able to slip through and things we need to be focusing on threaten students? This isn’t an at- when it comes to protection, with tack on the capability of the security the safety of students and the safestaff at Queen Mary, my own expe- ty of our right to speak freely being riences and conversations I’ve had essential to keeping university life with them are only positive; a re- ticking over smoothly. Students cent one being about how one par- may find it hard to feel confident ticular security guard stood in the in expressing their views in a pubway of a man attacking a woman lic forum after this event – maywith a knife. It’s a question about be we should be pumping our rethe priorities that the university sources into keeping our universiplaces on the security system and ty secure before we send students its students. Can we justify the po- out onto Mile End Road for a fag. licing of what many would think are petty issues when something as Josh Lee is a third year English and Draextreme as what happened at this ma student and a member of the QMUL debate occurs? For me, there are Theatre Company.

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QMESSENGER MONDAY JANUARY 23 2012

Comment Freedom of speech is one thing this union will always seek to protect Sophie Richardson President

I am deeply saddened by the incident that took place on campus last Monday at one of our own society’s events. The fact that some of our students were threatened with violence for simply expressing their opinions and engaging with ideas flies in the face of everything that this university and this union stands for. I was shocked to hear of this sort of intolerance happening on

our own doorstep and would have thought society had moved past this kind of aggressive and narrow mindset. Just because someone else’s ideas or beliefs do not match your own does not give you permission to silence them, and we should be treating each other with respect and understanding. If we are not open minded enough to listen to the views of others then we are failing ourselves. By engag-

ing with the ideas of others we can develop our own, even if the discussions only strengthen our original beliefs rather than changing them, it is still a valuable experience we should all be open to. Societies play an integral part to the work of the union and provide ways for students to interact with other students, academics, the union, external organisations and the general public. I would hate for this one incident to deter soci-

eties from engaging with debates and topics in the future, no matter what the issue may be. The last year has shown me, amongst other things, that QMSU has a proud tradition of open debate and free discussion. And long may it continue. The eclectic mix of ideas, people and beliefs is the best thing about this amazing institution and one thing that this union will always seek to protect.

Independence of med school sports teams from parent schools threatened George Ryan BLSA President

A challenge we’re currently facing, and I have no doubt next year’s officers will face, is the threat to the independence of medical school sports teams from their parent universities. As I’m sure many of you are aware, London’s medical schools share a rich history of sporting competition and this is something that is still hugely valued by students today. Our Students Presidents Council and all of the heads of our sports teams have taken a clear stance on

the issue with a unanimous vote against the future prospect of merging at a General Council Meeting last week. Work is also being done on a larger meeting with United Hospitals Medgroup who are lobbying BUCs and the BMA for support of our students opinion. The issue has seemingly been dropped by BUCs for the time being but feeling amongst students is strong, and when it rises its head again we will be prepared to deal

with the issue. On another topic, preparations have begun for next year’s National Medsoc Conference which BL successfully put in a bid to host at this year’s conference. I have received a number of applications to sit on the committee that will organise the conference for next year. This is a huge project for BLSA to undertake and having met several candidates already I have no doubt our team will be more than capable of putting

the conference together, making it one medical students from all over the UK will remember Barts and The London for. And now I move onto a more sombre topic, the refurbishment of our beloved union building. The Christmas period was always going to be the make or break time in terms of knowing if the project was going to finish in March as planned and I am sad to have to tell you it has been delayed for a month.

How funding is ‘doled out’ to sports and societies is due to be overhauled Dom Bell VP Student Activities

It’s been a dramatic week of events with an outbreak at Atheist Soc’s event on Human Rights and Ken Livingstone asking to come do a Q&A session at Queen Mary. Two very different matters that have demanded my attention. However, in an attempt to get some QMSU election candidates thinking about what they could put in their manifestos, this week I’m going to propose some changes to

our societies, namely, how we dole out funds to them. At the moment, there’s a bidding round in the summer and by August we’ve doled out the year’s entire grant for Sports and Societies. What that means is the biggest stakeholder already has its hands tied and committed. For anyone who has any event they’ve thought up in the middle of the year, or if there’s a new sport or

society that wants to start up, they have no way of securing any financial support from QMSU. The only thing that could be done is to find support through the likes of the College, commercial sponsors, government funds, alumni, friends or yourselves. Additionally, it is difficult to know how current societies will utilise their funding. So, here’s the big idea. If we release funds to students on a

month by month basis throughout the year then when students come and ask for funding, QMSU can say, “Yes, just apply to us.” Money doesn’t go to waste because we know when students apply what they want to spend it on; students can be rewarded for their innovative ideas as and when, and no one gets left out because there are multiple opportunities throughout the year.

You have to be rich to learn to do a job that will make you, er, not rich Oscar Williamson VP Education & Welfare

I’m spending my evenings alternately banging my head on my desk and working on Masters applications. The closer you look at these programmes, the weirder they seem. Take the Masters in Public Policy at Oxford. The programme is for people who are committed to public service – not a get-rich-quick graduate destination. So who’s going to pay £30,000 to do it – or more specifically, who’s going to lend £30,000 to a student who isn’t interested in making

money? universities can afford to buy the peoIt turns out that the university just ple they want. The application process give you the money. I’m generalising, for most postgrad funding is bewilderbut if they offer you a place and you ing, and most scholarships have fairly can’t afford to take it, they’ll give you up obscure criteria – for example, The Alto £47,000 to change your mind. This fred Bourne Trust has up to £350 for a kind of Robin Hood approach makes final-year KCL student below the age of a huge amount of sense. Got £30,000 30 on a teacher training course who had lying around? Great, that’ll cover liv- funding but lost it in circumstances being expenses and college fees for two yond their control. Then there is the Caof your peers, and Oxford can afford to reer Development Loan, for which you throw tuition in free. Unfortunately, few can only apply in the three months be-

fore the course begins – so if you are rejected by both providers (you can only apply to one at a time and the decision takes a month) you find yourself at the end of August with no way to start your Masters, too late to defer or switch to part-time, and having missed the deadline for the graduate schemes starting in September by nine or ten months. The obvious solution is to be rich. If anyone has any thoughts on how I might bring that about please do let me know.

Wow, look! Check out our lovely new website: www.qmessenger.co.uk Sam Creighton VP Communications

QMessenger is entering a golden age of techy and futuristicy wonderment. The website, www.qmessenger.co.uk, that hosts the digital incarnation of our fair media empire here at Queen Mary has had a stormy year to say the least. It’s yo-yo’d online and off all year due to legal concerns held by the Board of Trustees. However, with a shiny interim agreement firmly in place and a new lease of life se-

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cured for the site, its domination of the world wide web now seems an inevitability. It’s always exciting to see a new news outlet open on campus. In my four and a half years at Queen Mary I’ve seen a radio station, television station and this very newspaper begin their existences. The way students take these new tools and shape them into successful enterprises is inspiring, the amount

of hardwork involved and the number of new and innovative ideas that are thrown about is something that this campus should be hugely proud of. So, I encourage all of you to head over to your exciting new news website and have a gander, you’ll find science, technology, food, environment and travel sections to enjoy, as well as original content for all the normal sections you can find in

CUB or QMessenger each issue. Not having a website has meant we’ve been lagging behind other student media outlets. This was a shame considering how successful we are in all other areas, but now that’s been rectified. It’s been a long road to get to this point and sometimes the horizon we sought seemed painfully far away, but now we’re here it’s time to enjoy and celebrate.


Advertorial

Graduate Attributes: Make your experiences count

Once again, the Queen Mary Graduate Attributes team and QMessenger have come together to bring you some advice on getting the most out of your time at university and how to ensure you are doing what you can to be successful. When was the last time you read the comments on an essay feedback form? What goals did you set this time a year ago? How will last term’s activities shape your choices for next term? Will your New Year’s resolutions last? This article in the series looks not at the importance of thinking ahead, planning or making the most of opportunities to expand your CV or gain new experiences, it is, rather, looking back to ask how do you reflect? So often, we are preoccupied with the next big challenge, the task ahead, that we are in danger of forgetting to take stock of our last achievement, to assess its success or to consider the role it might play in our future. I was once asked in an interview, ‘what are you most proud of?’ That was possibly the hardest thing the interviewer could have said. My mind went completely blank, I had prepared countless examples of applying my ability and had virtually

learnt the ‘skills’ section of my CV by heart. But I had, at the cost of this opportunity, failed to spend time asking the right questions. Reflecting is not high on many students’ priorities. Looking back at our last venture or considering what, if anything, we have gained from an experience is to some a waste of time - to others it is an unproductive task - to most it is unconscious. Making decisions based on previous successes is a part of everyday life, even more so when you’re studying. Module choices, taking roles in projects, even choosing which essay to do, these are all decisions that will in some way be affected by the outcome of those that have come before and their results. The more time spent on assessing that outcome and considering its success, the more informed the next decision is bound to be. Reflection need not be a formal process. Reflection sounds a little daunting, but as we have said, for most it takes place without notice, as a habit. There are however, some things you can do to make the process easier, ways in which it can be approached formally, particularly in relation to the

university experience. You can begin while you’re at university, says Careers Consultant at QMUL, Abi Sharma, ‘a short appointment with the Careers Department can help to draw out and reflect on aspects of your degree you have enjoyed’ ‘to take apart experiences and try to piece those things together’ to think about career options. ‘ I think that if you look at the theory of learning’ reflection is crucial to our development, she adds ‘learning isn’t complete until’ the act of reflection, ‘if we don’t look back, we fall short of the lessons we can learn from it ‘it’s often reflection that helps you know what direction you want to go in next’. Reflection can ‘help students to make a translation between what they’ve done and what employers are looking for.’ Across all departments as well as in extra-curricular activities, paidwork and volunteering, reflection is a key skill. Feedback from tutors, making use of opportunities from advisors or using a learning log or reflective journal are all ways in which students can reflect. Peer assessment and mentoring can also be useful. QMUL’s Geography Department, for example, offers tutorials for final years to

specifically reflect on their degrees in terms of the skills they have gained over the last years. Through simply describing their work and experiences in terms of actions and outcomes, the students are able to make sense of their development and apply the skills they have gained. Other School Personal Development Planning systems exist throughout the college. The Queen Mary Certificate of Student Achievement is another way to gain recognition for your efforts. Spanning different departments and activities, the certificate allows students to show the commitment they have made to personal development, alongside their studies. The importance of reflection takes a more recognised position in the world of work. Craig Ferriman, Programme Advisor at Projects Abroad and alumnus of Queen Mary, University of London, 20082011 says “It is not enough to assume that university will fix you up with the attributes a graduate needs to be distinguished in the employment market. It might have been once but it isn’t now. “That can come in the form of joining clubs and societies, seeking opportunities to show leadership and broadening experiences

through volunteering and new skills. Managing and balancing time commitments alongside an academic course can be challenging but the rewards of an enhanced CV and more rounded character will pay dividends later on. “Personal development and improvement continues right throughout work. I have to report to a line manager on a weekly basis on my progress which requires me to be personally proactive at setting goals and targets. I find time management to be critical. I also receive quarterly appraisals and reviews of my work with senior management.” What comes from reflection is completely individual and always depends on the task. Results, however, are a certainty. It may be satisfaction that leads you to pursue that area further or regret that leads to a resolve to improve. Either way it is an act that will lead to moving forward and a clearer sense of direction. So next time you take something on, whether it’s an essay, a new society role or a class project, preserve a little energy for the aftermath, to actively reflect on the experience. It may well be the best bit.


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QMESSENGER MONDAY JANUARY 23 2012

Satire All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Please don’t mistake anything on this page for fact.

Mile Ends and Hell begins...

Image by Il Fatto Quotidiano

Titanic re-enactment goes a step too far Image by Linus Justice

AnnaHarry Heard of the Dicks and C*nts Collective? More commonly referred to as the DCC (formerly known as How’s Your Father?). Once a week Queen Mary students head to this meet and greet for the slutty and immoral. It’s only a hop, skip and stumble from uni, however you’ll have to be holding-onto-the-wall drunk (preferably on the verge of a tactical chunder) as it’s the norm to queue around the corner. Once you’re through the last of your Glenn’s vodka you’ll be faced with two surly ‘bouncers’. Pat yourself on the back for making it past. Now the fun begins. You’re spoilt for choice when getting rat arsed. Try the bucket of beer or a jug of a fine cocktail (ask for a straw to avoid losing precious drinking time decanting that shit!). This is on the condition that you don’t die of thirst whilst queuing.

A healthy work out is included as you’ll find yourself playing classic DCC games such as ‘Dodge that Bus’ and ‘Hopping on Broken Glass’ in the smoking area, tastefully decorated to resemble a bus lane. Attending the DCC alone is not something to fret about, by the end of the night you will know half the pub intimately as bump and grind turns into push, shove and a cheeky grope. If it’s love you’re looking for, the DCC is the place for you! We can’t guarantee that you’ll hook up with someone good looking, but you’ll definitely get laid! So, whether your idea of a good night out is crying in the corner, puking in a toilet or eating face with a total stranger, you won’t be disappointed. The DCC caters for all kinds of desperate and creepy, so don your shortest skirt or most douchy hipster gear and you’re set!

This Week on the WebTubes ‘My Video for Briona’ stars a young Joseph Fritzl as he desperately tries to contact his beloved Briona (who was tragically murdered shortly after this video was published).

C.M. Tinkers In an effort to celebrate 100 years since the worst North Atlantic Synchronised Swimming event ever performed, cruise passengers were treated to an impromptu ‘audienceinteraction’ rendition of the sinking of the Titanic. The response has been on the whole positive despite one or two complaints concerning the fact that the iceberg had been replaced by a large rock. “What did they expect?” said the ex-head waiter. “You can’t have icebergs and the Tuscan shoreline. Sacrifices had to be made, and most probably for budget reasons given the state of the Italian economy.” When asked for comment, “It was all very realistic,” said one passenger in between his coughing up sea water. “At first my wife and I thought that 3D Cinema had come on one hell of a long way while we’d been at sea. I half expected James Cameron to come running at me

slobbering rabidly from the month as he usually does.” A number of leading politicians have complained that it was perhaps too impromptu and whether actual deaths were entirely necessary to the performance; however these fears have now been dismissed as jealousy at not being invited. Of the few people involved in the performance execution, the only two who still maintain it was an entirely authentic crash are the navigator, Mr Stevens and the captain, Long–John Bronze (or Short-Sighted Steve to his amici). The Captain released a short statement: “Yarr, me eye-patch was on the wrong side.” Mr Stevens had this to say, “We hit it [the rock], like a rhythm stick. It was totally unexpected. Nowhere on the charts did it say ‘WATCH OUT FOR THIS MASSIVE PILE OF ROCKS’ but then, I don’t speak Italian. I’m more surprised Captain Bronze didn’t see it coming to be honest. Once we hit it, we just thought, let’s roll with it.”

Also in the news Hello, I’m Barry Powers, Chief Inspector for Tower Hamlets Police. Well, That’s about as far as policing goes around here. Goodbye.

“Ed Miliband starts to plan planning a planning plan.” “Man falls on keyboard and accidentally writes next Twilight book.” “Scottish independance claim largely based on hatred for Isle of Man.” “Brian Paddock to be gelded prior to mayoral elections.” “Artist formally known as Prince falls through hole in swiss cheese.”

‘Ugly yet beautiful’ is what it says it is. So ugly, yet so beautiful. One of natures finest and most profound paradoxes. Keats would weep. Byron would sob, and Sylvia Plath would stick her head in another oven.

“Job Centre to close causing 21,000 redundancies.” “Small amount of peas found in Pippa Middleton’s anus during televised colonoscopy.”

Picture by Liberal Democrats via Flickr(cc)

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A number of security forces from around the globe have taken a unique view of the proceedings. “We first thought it might be terrorism,” said an MI6 spokesman, “we’ve been totally expecting something along the lines of a large boat being driven into a rock for a while now. Hijacking a plane and flying it into a skyscraper is, like, so mainstream. But this all seems legit, Italian cruise ships rock!” Neighbouring residents, however, are concerned about how this might affect the local environment, one such inhabitant, Mr S. Squarepants moaned: “It’s all these immigrants that are the problem. Yes, they’re not the most talkative or lively, but it’s the principle that matters.” AC/ DC have in fact also released a statement saying that while they could understand the wish to pre-empt other such Titanic celebrations, just because “Rock ‘n’ Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” it does not lend itself as a means to successful nautical navigation.

“QM Jewish cemetry to host next series of Dancing on Ice.”


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QMESSENGER MONDAY JANUARY 23 2012

Societies

Society in the Spotlight: New Turn

Image by courtesy of Andrea Scheel

Andrea Scheel It’s been a whirlwind two years for New Turn, starting with a line up of high profile speakers, debating workshops and training in how to write public policy that scooped

us the Best New Society and Jack Petchey awards. This year we’ve upped the ante, running a series of workshops for secondary school students, releasing our magazine, and running 15 events already. If you’re still not sure about

joining, we are currently offering fully accredited policy training. For just £15, members can take part in a one day workshop at Queen Mary, where they will get expert training in how to write public policy and walk away with a certificate that makes them instantly more employable. The price also includes entry into a week of events from renowned speakers, such as Lord MallochBrown, former Deputy SecretaryGeneral of the UN. Considering this training usually costs £800 per person, and our £10 membership gets you free entry into all of our events all year, you get amazing value for money. The rest of the year sees talks from the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, Editor of The Economist Philip Coggan, and Labour’s Alastair Darling. If you were only going to consider joining one society at university, there is no doubt that New Turn gives you far more for your money than any other society in London.

New Turn’s economics talk turn heads yet again!

Caz Parra Under the title “A postwar history of Capitalism and what went wrong,” New Turn ran yet another successful event which wasn’t only well attended, but filled with interesting debate. The guest speaker, Lord Robert Skidelsky, is, as his tittle suggests, a member of the House of Lords as well as an Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick. Just before starting the event, Lord Robert Skidelsky pointed out that talking about the postwar history of Capitalism would take

him “several hours”, and clarified he would simply share his views on “what’s wrong with capitalism.” He named the system’s instability, its potential for creating a huge gap between the rich and poor, and a disproportionate emphasis on consumption as some of the problems with our current system. “The press are terrible at reporting this,” he said when talking about the current economic situation. “They say ‘We’re at the risk of a double-dip recession’ but we are already in a recession,” he said. Charming the audience with witty and intelligent comments,

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Lord Skidelsky went over the basic characteristics of Capitalism and commented on current economic policy. “The system needs regulation” he said, and subsequently shared two policy ideas taken from his book, How Much Is Enough. He said the government should consider reducing the pressure to work and the pressure to consume. The first would improve productivity while the second, he inferred, would stop us from investing in goods that are not made to last. To find out about upcoming New Turn events please visit www. newturn.org.uk/events


Monday 23rd JANUARY FEATURING DJS

£1 drinks 9pm-10pm

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£1.50 after 10PM

9pm - 2am (door shut at 11)

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A R EX T E XT RA


16

QMESSENGER MONDAY 23 JANUARY 2012

Sport

Colours and Honours awards to split

» Separate awards ceremonies to be provided for sports and societies

Recently elected President Sophie Richardson speaks at Colours and Honours 2011 Image by Candice Henry, courtesy of QMSU.org

Hollie Carter As the new term begins and the work load starts to pile up, it is events such as the sports and societies awards that offer us a glimmer of hope at the end of a dark tunnel.  Last year’s Colours and Honours ceremony gave many the opportunity to take a break from writing essays, don their finest attire and party the night away at the infamous Boat Party. This year, however, the format for the event is slightly different.

Sports and societies will be celebrating their achievements in two different events: a Club Sport Awards Dinner for the sports teams, and an Awards and Honours night for societies. There has been a mixed response from sports and societies alike regarding the split in the event; some are worried that by dividing the events the feeling of participation in a wider community will be lost. Others in favour of the split argue, however, that it creates more focused events

which cater to the specific desires and requirements of sports and societies.   Talking to QMessenger, VP Sports and Activities Officer Dominic Bell justified the reasoning behind the split as being based on advice from “an external consultant” and “feedback from the sports clubs at last year’s ceremony and also this year’s Society Presidents and the Mile End Societies, Sports, RAG, and Volunteering officers.” He also stressed the importance

of “increasing participation and recognition of individuals” in the creation of the new structure. The Sports Dinner was decided upon after the demand from sports clubs appeared to be for a “plusher event with food and drink.” Tickets for the event at Proud Cabaret on 27th March will cost £30 and include “entertainment,  a three course meal with wine or a soft drink and, of course, Awards.” The Awards and Honours evening in celebration of societies’ achievements will be a very different event hosted in Rich Mix, a cinema based in Shoreditch, with a drinks reception, nibbles, live entertainment and  even the opportunity to witness some of our very own Queen Mary students perform. The Awards and Honours event will be held on 19th March and tickets for this event will cost £6. Despite the cost implication for those who are part of both a sport and a society, the Union are confident that the separation of awards will create better value for money for the majority of students, and will enable them to provide events that cater to a wider range of tastes. Tickets for both events are available now. www.qmsu.org/events  

Netball Fixtures 23rd Jan 3rd vs Barts 3rd 4th vs Rums 4th 1st vs KCLMS 2nds 25th Jan 2nd vs London Met 1st 1st vs UCL 2nds 30th Jan 3rd vs ICSM 4th 4th vs LSE 6th 2nd vs KCL 3rds 1st vs ICSM 1st 6th Feb 2nds vs RVC 2nds 8th Feb 2nd vs Imperial Medics 3rd 1st vs Royal Vets 1st 15th Feb 2nd vs Arts 2nds 1st vs Royal Free 2nds 20th Feb 2nd vs UCL 3rds 29th Feb 2nd vs KCL 2nds 1st vs Greenwich 1st 14th March 2nd vs Barts 2nds 1st KCL Medics 2nds

The Week that Was: seven days of sport » Sports editor Shafi Musaddique mulls over recent happenings in the sporting world.

Shafi Musaddique After the drama of the FA Cup in the previous week, nothing can be sweeter than a return to the Premier League. But the shock result in Swansea’s defeat of Arsenal highlights why the Welsh side are the 6th best passing side in Europe. A match with Robin Van Persie scoring almost looks a given for the Gunners, but we all know that the the Premier League is notoriously unpredictable. Since the John Terry ‘racism’ debacle, extra security has been announced for QPR’s clash with Chelsea, which is to be played before John Terry’s hearing

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at the Magistrates’. Racism has been a serious issue that was thought to have been put to bed in the world of football, but in reality the only difference between the bygone eras and now seems to be the transition of the spotlight from spectator behaviour to the players. Spectacles have changed over the years, and this week Aston Villa announced plans to explore a safe standing area at Villa Park. The proposition could be an economic achievement in an age where young fans are being priced out of the market. However, Villa face a battle with the Premier League’s non-

moving position supporting all-seater stands. In the short term, the arrival of the Olympics is moving closer. Former Olympic silver medallist Colin Jackson has urged for a legacy which will encourage more children to take up a sport regularly, comparing it to the ‘Wimbledon effect’ that tennis can have each summer. The athlete also believes that the GB Athletics team should concentrate on performance first, and legacy second. In this so called apocalyptic year, the positives are everywhere to see. Such is the unpredictability of the sporting world.

Extra security has been announced for QPR’s clash with Chelsea after John Terry’s ‘racism’ debacle. Image by Paul Bence via Flickr CC


QMessenger Issue 53