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The Beaver | 29.01.2013


Director Calhoun holds second online question and answer session of year Sophie Dunzelman

For the second time this academic year, Director Craig Calhoun has held an online question and answer session on Twitter. Calhoun answered 35 tweets, Wednesday, after nearly 140 tweets were submitted under the hashtag, #askthedirector. Nevertheless, students have noted that the response towards the session was less enthusiastic than the previous session, with less questions being asked and answered. The tweets, which came from a wide audience which included current students, alumni, prospective students and even members of the wider public. In addition to answering many students’ questions, the Director maintained a jovial character and even tweeted a photo right before the session commenced, demonstrating his

preparation for the event. Despite the many tweets which were received and were left unanswered, those that were answered included those that addressed LSE’s relationship with other counWULHV ,QGLD ZDV RI VSHFLஊF mention and the Director noted that he is “seeking to build in exciting new ways on excellent long relationship.” The cost of living in London and the LSE’s role in widening its outreach to those who are underfunded were other reoccurring topics. Touching on these subjects, Calhoun agreed that these issues need to be addressed. Many people also praised the Q&A session as a “great opportunity” to have a direct line to the LSE’s administration. Despite the Director taking on some of the “tough questions,” the restrictive nature of the medium in

WONG’S WEEKLY COMMENT KEEP IT CLASSY, MR CALHOUN Last week Mr Calhoun hosted a Twitter Q&A session where he gladly answered questions about his favourite pizza topping, whether he preIHUUHGWHDRUFRஉHHDQGZKDW he thought of Mick Jagger. Understandably, Mr Calhoun was too busy talking about the crucial issues above to answer my questions about the lack of seats in the library, the lack of transparency over how the Students’ Union spends our £2m and the SU’s subsequent seeming violation of the Education Act (1994), Mr Calhoun was however kind enough to answer my question about LSE100. I gently pointed out to Mr Calhoun that 80 per cent of students oppose the course according to a recent poll conducted by the Beaver and asked whether he would prioritise students’ feedback over the marketing gimmick that is LSE100. In responding, Mr CalKRXQ ஊUVW LQVXOWHG WKH FUHG itability of our 64 years old paper, calling the Beaver’s poll ‘nonsense’ before branding the 80 per cent of stu-

dents who disagree with him and oppose LSE100 ‘anti-intellectual’. Mr Calhoun also cited ‘better conducted polls’ which apparently ‘gives LSE100 strong support’, though to date he has failed to show us these said polls. John Stuart Mill observed that ‘a strong opinion, however true it may be, if it is not fully, frankly and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma not a living truth’. Debates and disagreements are crucial in a free and open society, but to demagogue students who disagree as ‘anti-intellectual’ is both unnecessary and unprofessional. Mr Leape and I disagree furiously on LSE100, but I respect his courteous attitude and willingness to meet with me in-person to discuss the issue. The Director of LSE should be respected; but respect is a two-way street. And when you resort to attacking the messenger and not his message, you have lost the debate.

which the Q&A was held resulted in most of the tweets receiving an acknowledgement of the issue but lacking a concrete resolution. According to Calhoun, the lack of females in academia need to be made “a priority,” and inequalities within the school system is “a real problem.” The high cost for postgraduate studies did “worry” the director, who tweeted, “I wish there were more funders to defray the costs!” Nevertheless, the most controversial statement during the session was in response to Jason Wong, member of the court of governors, who brought up LSE100’s subpar performance in a survey by the Beaver. “I think this is nonsense. Better conducted surveys give LSE100 strong support. Don’t be anti-intellectual!” tweeted Calhoun, slamming both Wong and the Beaver survey. While many praised the session’s innovativeness, some questioned whether the University’s greatest problems ccan be answered in 140 characters or less. Given the multitude of received tweets as well as the hour-long time constraint, it has been presumed that the Director needed to be selective in what was responded to during the session. Even in Calhoun’s responses, there seemed to be a distinct lack of affirmative responses to the questions he received, and more of a vague acknowledgment that

the problem existed. Some pointed to that a huge proportion of Calhoun’s responses did not, in their view, address issues relevant to the LSE community. These issues, such as Calhoun’s impressions of President Obama’s second Inaugural Address as well as the Director’s tweeting that the “societal function of a university” was “advancing knowledge, sharing knowledge, improving public debate” were deemed by some to be a waste of pre-

cious time. Despite the complaints of some, the Twitter Q&A session was well received by most, with Venessa Chan, third year International Relations student, praising the Director for being open and “allowing LSE students to talk with him on a more personal level.” Chan also suggested Calhoun “hold an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit so the 140 character restriction is no longer an issue.”

6HYHQDWWHQGWKHૹUVW UGM of Lent Term students turned up to listen to Craig Calhoun address VWXGHQWVIRUWKHஊUVWWLPHDV 7KH ஊUVW 8*0 RI /HQW 7HUP LSE Director. was held, Thursday, in the On the other hand, UGMs Old Building’s Old Theatre. held last year were attended A mere seven students atby up to 200 students, most tended the “welcome back” notably during the EmergenUGM on Thursday, where the cy General Meeting (EGM) Sabbatical Officers report on where motions on anti-semitheir achievements over the tism and Islamophobia were past number of weeks. discussed. Out of the seven students, The next UGM, which will only one of the attendees was be the Lent Term elections not an elected official in the hustings, is scheduled to be UGM Chair Joe Anderson Students’ Union. Furthermore, only two of the attend- time of the allocated for the held about a month later, unless a motion is submitted by ee were not on official duty UGM. a student to be discussed. to attend the UGM. The low attendance rate is The UGM ended after a DIDUFU\IURPWKHஊUVW8*0 An Annual General Meeting mere 25 minutes, half the of the year, where about 65 (AGM) will also be held in Week Ten. Shu Hang

The Beaver: Week of January 29th, 2013  
The Beaver: Week of January 29th, 2013  

Newspaper of the London School of Economics Students' Union. Issue 784.