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Birmingham takes centre stage Exclusive interviews and live coverage available at Turn to pages 4 & 5 for an inside report on the Question Time Debate


7th MAY 2010 ISSUE 1371 VOL 74

THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM'S STUDENT NEWSPAPER SINCE 1936 Guild Awards Winner: Most Outstanding Society 2010


Gradball ticket frustration Ingrid Matts FINAL YEAR students hoping to attend this year's Gradball have been left feeling bitterly disappointed with the organisation of ticket sales last Friday. Criticisms leveled at the event's organisers range from the limited amount of dinner tickets made available to final years, who spent hours queuing, to the subsequent censorship of complaints made on the Gradball Facebook page. Tickets for the event went on sale on Friday at 9am and students began queuing from as early as 2am. However, those who arrived at 7.30am, and waited for up to five hours, were left without a dinner ticket. This was due to the small number allocated to this part of the evening, as this year is the first time in recent years that Gradball is being held on campus. Although the overall amount of tickets has been increased by 1500, the proportion of dinner tickets made available was significantly reduced to just 800. Guild Sabbatical Officer Emma Packham guaranteed in March that these would be specifically for final years, stating that: 'As dinner seating has been reduced we have reserved these especially for graduates.' Aston Webb lit up during the final Prime Ministerial debate Photo: Pete Blakemore ~continued on page 2~

Decision over Aitken amended Glen Moutrie Catrin Shi HOUSING and Accommodation Services (HAS) has amended its decision to make Aitken Wing in the Vale Village entirely postgraduate next year. The new decision opts for a split between undergraduates and postgraduates (with block A remaining undergraduate). HAS will also use Chelwood accommodation to help handle the new population of students. This came after weeks of

work from Ed Sparkes, VP of Housing and Community, and the Aitken RA to try and amend the decision that the University had made on its own, allegedly breaking University policy and failing to understand the implications of their decision upon the residents. Furthermore, the timing of the decision to re-open Chelwood also means that the Guild will have no input to its fees. At ÂŁ6,812 per year, this will place it in the five most expensive accommodations that the University provides.

The University's motivation for this change was so that more time would be available to renovate the Spinney in Pritchatts Park, which is entirely postgraduate accommodation, all with 50-week contracts. The previous set-up would only have given the University two weeks to renovate. In order to find more time, they chose to swap Aitken's undergraduate accommodation with the Spinney's for the 2010-11 academic year. This change would allow ten weeks to renovate the postgraduate accommodation.

The University has now conceded to a split between undergraduates and postgraduates in Aitken, an outcome that saw all parties better off and took on board the concerns of the Guild and the RAs. However the concern lies with the manner in which the University initially handled the decision. Ed Sparkes was himself only informed of the change in March, after the decision to turn Aitken fully postgraduate had been made. ~continued on page 2~


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2 News

REDBRICK 1353 / 9th OCTOBER 2009

On Campus News


Contributors: Becky Shewell, Natalie Vincent. Lucy Hawking visits the University ON Wednesday 7th October Lucy Hawking, author and daughter of Stephen Hawking visited the University for a one-off lecture talk entitled 'Travel Through Space with Lucy Hawking – George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt'. The talk, which happened in the Poynting Building's Large Lecture Theatre at 6.30pm and was completely free, was a big success. During the presentation, Lucy discussed the mysteries of physics, science and the universe through the eyes of the characters of her children's novel George's Secret Key to the Universe, which exposes the concept of science and space to younger readers. Lucy, who is an acclaimed author, wrote the book, which was published in 2007, with her father, Stephen Hawking; Lucasian Professor of

Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University. George and the Cosmic Treasure Hunt, another of Lucy Hawking's books was also published earlier this year. University of Birmingham voted one of the top 20 Universities in the Country THE University of Birmingham has moved up four places from last year's ranking on the Sunday Times University list and is now sitting in joint 20th position with the University of Leicester. Birmingham was recognised and shortlisted for the University of the Year Award due to its teaching and research excellence. The University was also noted for its commitment to Cancer Research and for it being environmentally friendly with its five hydrogen cars. The University has

also broken into the top 75 Universities in the world this year, demonstrating its national and international strength. New Concert Hall to come to the Univeristy of Birmingham. A NEW 450 seat concert hall is coming to the University of Birmingham and is set for completion in 2012. It is set to fill a vacant space in the centre of campus near the clock tower; the way it was originally designed in the early 1900's. The new area will also house the Music Department, which was recently ranked as second amongst all music Departments with 85 per cent of the work streaming from it classed as 'world leading'. Although it will cost around £5 million to complete, the University has already managed to raise £3 million through its Alumni and friends.

Birmingham Half Marathon Sunday 11th October THIS Sunday, runners from around the country will be lining up in their running shoes, for the first ever Birmingham Half Marathon organised by Birmingham City Council. Participators are set to run an exhausting thirteen mile loop around Birmingham, starting from Paradise Circus and ending at Centenary Square, in Birmingham city centre. The race covers most of the major roads across Birmingham including Broad Street, Pershore Road, Edgbaston Park Road and roads throughout Bournville and Digbeth. The run is set to cause closure of all these roads and many others connecting them. Most of the major bus services in Birmingham will also be cancelled on

the day. This will affect students, as buses from Selly Oak into the city will not be running. The IAAF World Half Marathon Championships are also set to take place ealier on Sunday. This means that runners in the EDF Half Marathon will be literally running in the footsteps of around 200 of the world's best runners, who are representing over 50 countries in the Championships. The run has been organised by the energy suppliers EDF Energy, in conjuncton with Birmingham City Council. The main message for the day is to raise awareness for climate change by adding the slogan; 'The Race Against Climate Change' to the half marathon. However, there are evidently many different messages which will be sent out for the day as many runners are being sponsored to raise money for a charity of their choice.

String Quartet visits the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham Friday 16th October NEXT Friday at 1:10pm an outstanding young people's string quartet will be visiting the Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham for an outstanding oneoff performance. The quartet are among the most reputable in the country and will be conducting the performance for free. The group have won numerous awards across the country and worldwide for their fantastic performances. Among the awards they have received include: 'Outstanding Young Artist Award' at the MIDEM Classique Awards in Cannes. During their performance, they will be including several works by Schumann and Beethoven.

Picture of the week William Demaine

Picture of the week is taken from the photo essay 'Indonesia bound' by William Demaine and is available in full at

4 News

REDBRICK 1353 / 9th OCTOBER 2009

Campus News

Controversial coffee chain divides student opinion across campus AS many of you are aware the start of the new academic year has seen the opening of a new branch of Starbucks on campus at the University of Birmingham. The issues surrounding the new Starbucks have divided student opinion across campus. For some students the presence of the coffee chain has brought a quality product and an attractive meeting place. Many are happy with Starbucks, commenting on the quality of the products. However, for other students it represents University support for a big corporate company, with a contraversial history. Allegations against Starbucks include accusations of union-busting and unethical business techniques. In the United States its high prices has led to people dubbing it 'fourbucks'.

Helen Clough

Furthermore, there is controversy surrounding Starbucks domination of Britain's high streets and the market for cafe shops and businesses, already struggling in the recession. Many are concerned that the Starbucks Corporation are eliminating smaller local businesses by removing competition and raising prices. The new cafe is also attracting attention with its futuristic lift and mixed sex toilets. Considering this, many students are shocked by the arrival of yet another Starbucks in Birmingham. The new Starbucks can be found on the ground floor of the Muirhead Tower building, which definitely merits a visit. The building is also a famous example of postmodernism, and has recently re-opened after a 2 year, £45 million refurbishment.

This week, Redbrick has asked students for their opinion about the newest addition to the campus... Starbucks

Rachel Rees

Ellie Sayers

Pippa Calver

Eleanor Tompkins

Geography 2nd Year

Lacrosse Club Captain

Environmental Management, 3rd Year

Business, 2nd Year

'After lectures it's hard to resist the temptation to nip in for a coffee, if only it was cheaper!'

'I love the design, the comfortable chairs and the friendly staff'.

'It's sad that the university were unable to find a company who would support the West Midlands economy and local producers'.

'The lifts are really weird and I dislike the fact that the toilets are mixed gender'.

Society puts student morality to the test

Soldier abused

NEW University Society 'Agape Student Life' has held a raffle during fresher' week in which the prize placed one studentwith a difficult moral dilemma. The winner of the raffle had a choice of prize, between either two goats for the developing world or a brand new Ipod. Over 13,000 students entered the raffle throughout the week and it was drawn in Mermaid Square by VPSAD Emma Packham . The result revealed that the anonymous winner chose to keep the Ipod rather than send goats to feed a family in Africa. The raffle was used not only to promote the society but also to raise awareness of the plights of developing nations and the simple measures that can be taken to aid them. The group 'Agape Student Life' who staged

A SEVERELY disabled soldier received a barrage of abuse from local youths in what a Bournville councillor has described as a 'despicable inccident'. Sapper Matthew Weston, 20, who lost both his legs, an arm and most of his hearing in Afghanistan, was subjected to verbal jaunts whilst waiting for fish and chips in Selly Oak. The youths in question allegedly shouted taunts at Weston, which has been reported by the Birmingham Mail. Among these included; 'Haven’t you forgotten something? Oh yeah, your legs', and ' If you didn't want to be blown up, don’t go to war?' At the time of the inccident, his girlfriend and mother were with him and reported feeling 'mortified' about the situation. Mrs. Weston, 40, commented: 'I didn't

Natalie Vincent

the event, are a Christian Society, although they aim to target people of secular belief that wish to discuss spiritual issues. Another main focus

of the student society is to create a safe environment for moral discussions to take place. They also aim to help students with issues that affect

The grand draw taking place in the Mermaid Square

any part of their lives. For more information about the society, you can email them at agape@

Ned Murray

know what to do when they shouted the legs insult. I choked back the tears before pushing Matthew away and could hear them laughing.' Weston required lifesaving surgery after he was injured while on patrol with the 33 Royal Engineers in Hellmand Province during June of this year. Nigel Dawkins, councillor for Bournville, told the Birmingham Mail: 'I know I speak on behalf of everyone in Birmingham in offering our sincere apologies to Matthew Weston for this despicable inccident. I am ashamed to be a Brummie, to know that there are people out there who are so mindless and stupid.' The soldier had spent 11 weeks at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Selly Oak Hospital. He had only been omitted for two weeks when this awful inccident occured. For more information see the Birmingham


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