9 FEBRUARY- 8 MARCH 2018
MY LIFE AS A POLE DANCER
KU’S WOLF OF WALL STREET
SEE PAGE 12-13
SEE PAGE 3
KU STUDENT TAKING TO COURT • Regulator rejects complaint by Kingston postgraduate that Sun article was discriminatory • She is taking the case to court • But she needs £25k to pay fees
BY NAOMI TAYLOR EXCLUSIVE A KINGSTON student is battling to take the UK press regulator to court after it rejected her complaint that an article in The Sun was Islamophobic. Rachel Elgy (pictured) added her complaint to hundreds of others about an article written last August by The Sun’s columnist Trevor Kavanagh. She alleged the comment piece which claimed that Muslim sex abuse gangs targeting children had been ignored because of political correctness - was inaccurate and discriminatory. Her complaint was chosen by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) to be investigated but after being considered by its complaints’
panel it was rejected. She was contacted by a lawyer who said he wanted to take her case to judicial review to challenge the decision. However, to pay the lawyer’s fees she must raise £25,000. “The article was parading as one about Brexit, but when you read it, it was actually about a conviction of a sex-grooming-gang in Newcastle, saying the people causing the problem were all Muslims and that it was ‘not Islamophobic to point this out’,” said Elgy. “It was basically saying immigrants, in particular Muslim immigrants are responsible for all sex crimes in the UK, which is obviously wildly inaccurate.” TURN TO P4
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KU at risk of closure as student numbers plunge, warns expert BY MELISSA MOODY AND RIKKE NYLUND EXPERTS have warned that Kingston University is one of the universities most likely to face closure due to a decline in new student applications and an alarming deficit. Kingston University has seen the biggest decline in applications from 18-year-olds from 2012 to 2017, with a drop of 35 per cent, according to UCAS statistics. For the next academic year, Kingston has seen more than a 10 per cent drop in applications. Nursing and business management had one of the biggest hits in applications, with Health, Social Care and Education hit with a drop of 25 per cent. Professor Colin Riordan, the vice chancellor of Cardiff University, said he was concerned for the future of universities in the UK and highlighted KU as one of the most at-risk based on the dramatic drop in numbers. “To my knowledge, we haven’t been in a position in living memory where it seems likely that established universities could find themselves in an unsustainable position having no option but to close,” Riordan said.
Colin Riordan Photo: Cardiff Uni “The Higher Education Funding council for England had a definite role in averting failure. All those safeguards have now gone in England. “The Office for Students has set its stall out very clearly and it is not there to ensure the sector’s health. “As well as possibly being the main employer, the university may be the main route for the local population to advance themselves. If people want to get a better career or make some progress in life they may find it pretty dif-
Record number of KU students vote in 2018 NUS delegate election BY KHADRA SALAD STATISTICS have proven that more KU students are exercising their right to vote at their university, following the NUS election results. According to figures from the NUS election office, only 496 KU students voted in 2016 whereas in 2018, more students actively participated in the NUS elections with 1,243 votes. NUS delegate and Knights Park Officer Daisy Du Toit was pleased with the turnout and discussed how important the recent elections were for the university. Du Toit said: “The NUS is important because it collects and pulls together the wants and needs of students across the country, spotting trends and then lobbying or campaigning to change things: both in government and the world.”
Although there has been an increase of student votes this year, Du Toit believes that more students should take an active role in changing the future of Kingston University. With over 15,000 students at the university, delegates believe that this is a good step towards the right direction however, it seems that there is more to be done. Lead delegate, Feisal Hajji, said: “I understand that voting in an election when you are busy can be hard, especially student elections when too often students only meet officers during election time. “These votes can change the future for the university and for students as a whole.” The winners of the election will attend the NUS National Conference at the end of March.
ficult with their university gone.” In the financial year 16/17, Kingston University saw a deficit of £14.2m. The costs were mostly accounted to restructuring costs and pension changes, but it still left the university £4.3m in the red. Universities across the country have been facing significant uncertainty with falling student numbers and rises in costs. London Metropolitan University’s applications dropped by 27 per cent and University of Cumbria’s by 24 per cent, both becoming some of the country’s most at-risk universities. The Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) reported that one of the major threats to the sector is that there are fewer 18-year-olds in the UK, which could lead to fewer 18-year-old applicants. HEFCE is to be replaced by the Office of Students in April who have, for the first time, put in place provisions in case universities such as KU go bust. The university regulator has said that it is not concerned about the future of universities and that occasional deficits are not uncommon. A HEFCE spokesperson said: “In
Penrhyn Road campus Photo: KU particular they will need to continually University is continually reviewing its adapt, and sometimes restructure course portfolio and student numbers their organisations, to ensure their to ensure it keeps pace with the educasustainability in the longer term. tional interests of its students and the Sometimes this may incur occasional changing needs of the industry. “In line with this approach, last year deficits and these are not normally it reduced its student number target cause for concern.” One of the risks of a university going to align with its refocused course bust is the economic repercussions to portfolio. “The deficits in 2016/17 and for the local area. Often they employ thousands of peo- 2017/18 were budgeted for against this ple and the local community rely on reduction in student numbers. “The planned deficit also reflects the spending by students, staff, visitors and timing of the investment made to enthe university itself. Kingston University students re- sure academic rigour continues to be portedly contribute £71m to the local embedded at the institution and our students have the best possible experience Kingston economy. On a national basis, Kingston Uni- at Kingston University.” Lecturers at the University have also versity students contribute £238m to expressed concern about the drop in the UK economy. According to Kingston University’s student numbers and the future of KU. In the last issue of The River, marfinancial report 2017/18, the university keting and advertising course director added 3,800 jobs to the area. Students and staff reportedly contrib- Dr Marvyn Boatswain said he was uted £2m to tourism and culture within worried about not only his course but about the industry as a whole. “I think Kingston. Visitors travelling to meet and so- maybe students are choosing not to go cialise with staff and students and par- to university a lot more now, so yes I ticipate in events brought in roughly am concerned” he said. “I am hoping that our numbers will £2.2m to the borough. A KU spokesperson said: “Kingston remain at least steady.”
Too much room at the inn
Half of bedrooms left empty after thousands spent refurbishing Kingston Bridge House BY GREG POTTS EMPTY bedrooms at the Kingston Bridge House (KBH) halls of residence could be costing KU over half a million pounds this year, despite extensive refurbishments being made to the building recently. There are currently 43 single bedrooms unoccupied at KBH according to the University, but these figures do not include the 57 other bedrooms that are apparently reserved for conferences and short courses, which also seem to be empty. “My whole block is empty,” said third year psychology and drama student Veronica Ogedi-Uzokwe. “My flat is full but 1B, 1C and 1D all around it are completely empty.” With rent costing £5,320 over a 40 week academic year for each room, if these 100 rooms were all empty then the University would be missing out on
a total of £532,000 in rent. This comes after refurbishments to some of the flats in the building were carried out last summer, with three floors receiving new kitchens, bathrooms and updated hallways, the cost of which has not been disclosed by the University but at the least would be in the tens of thousands. A new common room was fitted in the summer of 2015 with a flat-screen TV, sofas and beanbags, a table football table and a work area with computers. Ogedi-Uzokwe also said: “When I was here two years ago in first year it was such a sociable halls. Now I don’t know what’s going on, it’s so quiet.” First year sport science student Ocar Kotting Mcmillan said: “Nobody seems to socialise in other flats or use the social space which is what you want from uni halls. “In fresher’s week it took me four days
to find people to hang out with at Kingston Bridge House.” The news of the empty rooms at KBH comes as it was revealed in the last issue of The River that applications to Kingston University have dropped by 10 per cent for next year after a 20 per cent fall last year. A Kingston University spokesperson said: “As part of our ongoing work across the University to continually update and enhance our facilities, refurbishments have been carried out at Kingston Bridge House Hall of Residence during the past two summers. “At present 118 of the 161 available rooms are occupied. This does not include the additional 57 rooms that are reserved for conferences and short course students. The Kingston Bridge House halls manager, Georgina Harman, declined to comment on the situation.
9 FEBRUARY - 8 MARCH 2018
I want to be the new WOLF OF WALL STREET NEWS
KU student makes £150,000 trading after being inspired by Leo DiCaprio’s outrageous role BY CIARA MCGINLEY THE Wolf of Wall Street crashed a Lamborghini, hosted elaborate drugfuelled parties and illegally made millions as a stockbroker in the city. The controversial film full of sex, drugs and cheap thrills follows the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, in the murky world of finance. It shocked viewers around the world but to KU student Hassan Shakir it was what inspired him to learn about trading and make £150,000 in three years. “When I first saw that movie, that was what originally got me into wanting to learn how to trade.,” he said. “It’s just amazing how you can actually make that much money.” The first year pharmaceutical science student, who does not condone the illegal activity shown in the film, said money is the driving force in the world of trading. “You have to be money hungry to win in the game,” he said. He started by investing £1,000 and trading in American and South East Asian markets. Shakir has traded in the foreign exchange market and in commodities, which includes oil and metals such as gold and the increasingly popular cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. “When I was first starting
off everything was so cheap to buy because of the exchange currencies and especially in Asian countries it’s a lot cheaper than the pound,” said Shakir He taught himself how to trade by watching videos online, analysing charts and graphs and learning how to find patterns in the markets. Shakir, whose Instagram handle is ‘the wolf of Arabia’, said he mostly reinvests the money he has made but has used some of it to pay his way through university and once rented out a Ferrari for the weekend. “I always pay for everything myself, I don’t ask my parents for anything,” he said. The student set up his own company, HS&Co, six months ago and now has four investors. The 19-year-old developed his own trading strategy and spends two hours a day trading in between his lectures and studying for his exams. “I’m just here at university to get my degree. “I’m probably not going to use it to be honest because it’s not going to make me the money I want.” Shakir, who said he had a 65 to 70 per cent success rate on his trades, takes a 15 per cent commission on what he makes for his investors who he insists are
Hassan takes style inspiration from DiCaprio’s character “happy” with his work. “They’re making money as well so everyone’s making money, so everyone’s happy,” he said. Shakir revealed that he could now make up to £35,000 a month from his own investments and those he makes on behalf of the investors.
He also admitted that he had not always been successful when he first started trading in the markets. “I did fail a few times, I was losing more than I was making and that’s when I learned I needed my own strategy,” he said. Shakir said that once he finishes his
Photos: Hassan Shakir degree he hopes to follow in the footsteps of a friend who made $10m by selling his trading strategy to a bank in the United States.. Shakir has said that he wants to do the same and dreams of setting up his own offices and have people trading off the strategy he has created.
Ex-KU cheerleader hopes to represent England for second time
BY AIMÉE WILSON
AN EX-KU cheerleading champion is hopeful to represent Team England for the second time after her success at the 2017 World Championships. A former exercise, nutrition and health student, Kim Gardner, has been selected to be part of Team England’s new development programme. “I plan to try out for the Team England All Girl Premier level six team later on in the year with the hopes to go to the World Championships in 2019.” The cheerleader was part of Team
England at the ICU World Championships in Orlando last April on a women’s team which beat 13 other nations. “I had always dreamed of being able to represent my country doing the sport I love but I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be able to call myself and my teammates World Champions,” she said. Team England was made up of 24 athletes from all over the country which only trained five times together before the world competition. “The team and the coaches were so inspiring and supportive, you would
never have known that we were all from different teams who usually compete against each other and that’s what I love about cheer,” said Gardener. Gardner, who is now a personal trainer, had no previous cheerleading experience before going to university apart from some gymnastics. She said: “I went to the Kingston Knights (now Cougars) trial session to try out something new and never looked back. I got onto the Golds team in 2009 and trained with them all the way to graduating in 2012.” The former student joined a local
all star cheerleading squad, the Surrey Starlets, while she was in her final year at university. It enabled her to learn new skills and compete at a higher competitive level. “I was very lucky to be given this opportunity by Coach Emma Haggis when they needed a replacement athlete at the beginning of their season.” Gardener has continued to be part of the Surrey Starlets ever since and participates in competitions across the country on her level five team ‘Amethyst’, which is fighting for a national champion title.
Photo: Kim Gardener
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‘I believe that Kavanagh was being deliberately inaccurate for purposes of being discriminatory’ 4
CONTINUED FROM P1
What the IPSO Code says: The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is the indepedent regulator for the newspape and magazine industry in the UK. Rachel Elgy used Clauses 1 and 12, which are accuracy and discrimination from IPSO’s code of conduct to challenge Trevor Kavanagh’s article in The Sun.
Accuracy i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text. ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator. iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for. iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact. v) A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party, unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published.
Discrimination i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability. ii) Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.
One of the major issues with the article was the use of the words The Muslim Problem, which in many complainants’ opinion drew parallels to The Jewish Problem, a phrase used in Nazi Germany before the Holocaust. “It was just so blatant and so narrow and so dangerous that it’s somebody in a national newspaper. This is one of the best-selling newspapers in the country,” said Elgy, who studies MA gender without borders. “He must know his words have an impact, he has chosen them deliberately. I believe he was being deliberately inaccurate for the purposes of being discriminatory.” In a follow-up article three days after the original piece, Kavanagh called suggestions he had used Nazi language “a ludicrous, offensive and perverse distortion of the truth”. He also added: “I want to state the vast majority of Muslims in Britain are decent, generous, hospitable and law-abiding men and women who add to the fabric of this nation. They have nothing whatsoever to do with the customs and primitive practices referred to in my article.” According to IPSO’s website, none of the relevant clauses of its Editors’ Code were broken. In its judgement, the regulator said: “The Committee acknowledged that the question posed at the end of the column – “What will we do about The Muslim Problem then” – was capable of causing serious offence, given it could be interpreted as a reference to the rhetoric preceding the Holocaust. “The Committee made it clear that there is no clause in the Editors’ Code which prohibits publication of offensive content. It was clear that many, including the complainant, were offended by this aspect of the article, but there was no breach of the Code on this point.” They also pointed out that due to of freedom of speech, the alleged dis-
Elgy’s complaint to IPSO was not upheld Photo: Naomi Taylor
“BUT THER E IS ONE U NSPOKEN GAGGED B FEAR, Y POLITICA L CORRECT WHICH LIN NESS, KS BRITAIN AND THE R EST OF EUROPE.”
crimination against Muslims in the article was not in breach of the law. “Clause 12 of the Code protects identifiable individuals from discrimination; it does not relate to discrimination against groups or categories of people. The complainant’s concern that the article discriminated against Muslims in general did not breach Clause 12,” the judgement stated. However, the lawyer responsible for the case, John Halford from Bindmans LLP, criticised the code. “IPSO has to be capable of determining whether press freedom has been abused when hundreds of complainants say it has, free of any influence from those it regulates. Here it conspicuously failed to do any of these things. The Court needs to set it straight,” he said. He admitted that Elgy’s case was weakened by the fact she was not Muslim herself. “That’s something else that riles me up,” said Elgy. “The responsibility is being placed on the victims of discrimination, the victims of oppres-
sion, they have the responsibility to challenge it and no one else. “I’m supposed to sit back and think ‘Well you didn’t write about me, so it’s not my problem’? That’s ridiculous. How would we ever get anywhere? “Hundreds of people complained, plus 107 MPs wrote a letter to complain and mine was the only one considered. All of these other voices just get ignored, taken off the table. “I am left responsible for speaking for hundreds of people. I shouldn’t be in that position. How can I speak for other people? It should be a situation where we’re able to make our case together since we all have points to make which are equally valid. That’s ridiculous as well.” It was not the first time that Kavanagh had been in trouble for his work, having last year had a complaint upheld against him for wrongly saying that a large proportion of Calais migrants had lied about their age in order to gain access to the UK. Kavanagh controversially sat on the board of IPSO while Elgy’s complaint
was being considered. However, IPSO pointed out that he was not part of the specific committee who decide the outcome of complaints. He has since left the board after two years of a three-year term. Both IPSO and Kavanagh declined to comment about the reason for his departure and said that while he was aware of the judicial review, it did not concern him directly. Elgy is crowdfunding the money for the appeal and applying for protection so that she does not go bankrupt if she loses her case. At publication, Elgy has raised £3,035 with 14 days remaining. As for what will happen next, she said: “Worst case scenario is we’re not able to take them to judicial review but that’s very unlikely. “Next worst is that we lose the case. Hopefully, the publicity will serve to demonstrate that the current regulation isn’t fit for purpose and take away IPSO’s credibility. Having this in people’s minds is really important, so even if we lose, I think we still win.”
Rachel Elgy’s mission to take down ‘Islamophobic’ Kavanagh 13 AUGUST 2017 Trevor Kavanagh writes the article in The Sun. 15 AUGUST 2017 Article received 150 complaints and an open letter from 107MPs condemning the article. 16 AUGUST 2017 Kavanagh calls the complaints ‘a
ludicrous, offensive and perverse distortion of the truth’ in a follow up article. 29 AUGUST 2017 Rachel sends 2,000 words of referenced evidence in response to The Sun. 26 OCTOBER 2017 Complaint not upheld by IPSO. Kavanagh himself is on the board of di-
rectors but had no say in the decision. 10 JANUARY 2018 Rachel’s lawyers send letter of intent to take IPSO to judicial review over their decision. 22 FEBRUARY 2018 Deadline to raise £25,000, almost a year’s salary, in order to take her claim to the next stage.
The Sun Editor, Tony Gallagher
“THE COMM ON DENOM INATOR, AL UNSAYABL MOST E UNTIL LA ST WEEK’S OVER PAKI FURORE STANI SEX GANGS, IS ISLAM.” “BRITISH A UTHORITIE DELIBERAT ELY DISREG S HAVE LONG ARDED MU CRIMES - S SLIM SEX OON LIKEL Y TO BE A R OFFENCE I ACIST TSELF - INC LUDING OU SUCH AS F TRAGES EMALE GEN ITAL MUTIL ATION AND “HONOUR” KILLINGS.”
Over the last few years, The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has proven that it is not fit for purpose and not fit to defend those harmed by irresponsible journalism. Greg Potts questions why we still haven’t sorted out the problems around press regulation LET me start by saying we must have a free press to remain a democracy. Journalists must be free from the Government, the legislature and religion. They must be allowed to question, investigate and criticise. For example, abuses in the Catholic Church would never have been exposed without that freedom. Worryingly, the UK recently slipped to 40th place in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, just above Belize and Burkina Faso. However, journalists need to be wary of using the ‘free press’ or freedom of speech to create fear of certain groups of people, as Trevor Kavanagh (above) did in his Sun piece and as many others have done before. IPSO have since proven that
they are not the organisation we need to regulate our press. In her column in The Sun in 2015, the ever-lamentable Katie Hopkins said: “Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They may look a bit ‘Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984’, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb.” IPSO received over 400 complaints about the article and unfortunately, but predictably, found that the article had not breached section 12 of the editor’s code as: “Clause 12 is designed to protect identified individuals mentioned by the press against discrimination, and does not apply to groups of people.” This was a blatant attack on a group of people whose lack of access
to the media denies them the right to reply and sadly, the same could be said for Muslims in Britain today. Kavanagh has no right to vilify a whole section of our society and IPSO have once again hidden behind the wording of clause 12 to avoid angering their friends and colleagues in the industry and rejected Elgy’s complaint. The independence of the organisation is also made a mockery by Kavanagh being on the board of the regulatory body that is investigating his own article. To be truly independent and avoid a conflict of interest we must surely have former journalists and editors making up IPSO’s board and committees.
Unfortunately, our press regulation problems in the UK are not just with IPSO. The state-backed regulator Impress goes too far the other way and has begun to limit the freedom of newspapers, even though none of them have signed up to it. The Government is blackmailing papers who don’t sign up by forcing them to pay the full legal costs of anyone who sues for libel, a notoriously expensive past-time, even if the paper is found not guilty. Impress is also part-funded by Max Mosely, who seems to be on a one-man mission to limit the freedom of the press to criticise the powerful after the News of the World published details of his questionable orgy in 2008.
We have come no closer to an effective regulator of the press since the Press Complaints Commission was forced to close after its response to the phone-hacking scandal, where their report cleared the News of the World and reprimanded the Guardian for its revelations. This is unquestionably a difficult balance to strike and we must allow the press freedom to investigate and criticise but we cannot stand for a regulator that rolls over when those like Hopkins and Kavanagh are using their platform to spread hate. The Sun must be made to apologise for this language that could encourage racism and discrimination, and IPSO is not the organisation to achieve this.
9 FEBRUARY- 8 MARCH 2018
Clayhill residents forced to evacuate after fire breakout
BY JAMES MICHIE
KINGSTON UNIVERSITY students have been rehoused after a fire damaged their flat in Clayhill Halls of residence. The blaze was believed to have been started in the kitchen and was contained there. Fire engines were called and the occupants were evacuated as the building was inspected. “The University temporarily rehoused all students from the affected site while electricians visited to undertake a thorough inspection of all appliances and the electrical supply,” a KU spokesperson said. The site was declared safe and most of the students have now moved back into the halls.” It is believed that the fire started from a toaster which then fell into the bin. The fire then spread throughout the kitchen. Louis Price, an office worker at Clayhill, said: “When I went into the kitchen after the incident it looked as if the toaster somehow caught fire and then was pushed into the bin, possibly
9 FEBRUARY- 8 MARCH 2018
KU students worry about not getting enough sleep
KU Students rushed out of halls after blaze Photo: Louis Price
Sophie is off to Dubai BY HANNAH ROBERTS A KU illustration and animation student and para-athlete who holds the world record for the T44 100m sprint, will fly to Dubai in March for the World Para Athletics Grand Prix. Sophie Kamlish, a second-year student who has worn a lower-leg prosthesis since she was nine, broke her own world record during the heats of last year’s World Championships in London with a time of 12.90 seconds. The 21-year-old normally trains six times a week and catches up with her university workload on Sundays, but since the indoor season started she has had to give up her only day off in order to compete.
BY RIKKE NYLUND
from panic as that has disintegrated. “The toaster was next to the microwave and kettle. The microwave seemed a little burnt but the kettle melted in half.” No one was harmed in the incident as Clayhill security attended the scene who then decided to call the fire brigade. “The fire alarm was triggered at Clayhill halls of residence after a recent incident in one of the kitchens,” the spokesman added. “In line with the University’s fire safety procedures, the building was evacuated and KUSCO security attended immediately. “In the interests of safety, the fire brigade was called and the building was inspected by officers.” Price said that incidents like this are not a regular occurrence and that Clayhills fire precautions work. “I have worked at Clayhill for two years and in my time that’s the only fire that I have seen...despite the fire I still think it’s great because it could have been ten times worse than what it was” he said.
OVER half of Kingston students worry about getting a lack of sleep throughout their time at university, a River survey said. The survey found that 61 per cent of students worry about not getting enough sleep, and 40 per cent said that they struggled with sleeping. Second year English literature and publishing student Elle Harvey, 20, struggles with insomnia and sleeps between three to four hours every night. “I can’t do anything. Sometimes I literally can’t get out of bed because I am so exhausted. “I’m tired so I can’t do much work, and I am short with people,” Harvey said. “It gets me down when I’m super exhausted.” Harvey has suffered with insomnia since she was 16, and said it got worse during her first year at university. The health and wellbeing service at KU can provide support for students who struggle with sleeping.
A KINGSTON University second year undergraduate student needed hospital treatment after he was viciously stabbed in the early hours of the morning after a fight broke out at a student house party. The victim was stabbed multiple times, sustaining severe lacerations to his chest, leg and stomach and the London Ambulance Service attended the scene at a student house close to Penrhyn Road. Two men aged in their 20s – at least one of whom was a KU student - were arrested at the scene on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and taken to a West London police station. They have both been released under investigation. A final year Kingston University student, who did not want to be named, said he attended the party but did not feel safe from the outset. He said: “There were several really aggressive people there. Some of them made comments and were verbally aggressive to me when someone asked to change a song. I thought it was a good idea to leave and I went to go find my friend. “She was shaken up as she had also had an incident with a guy being really aggressive and threatening towards her, so we both decided to get out of there. That is when people started shouting
KU student stabbed after fight breaks out at house party that someone had been stabbed. “A big group of us just ran. In my three years at Kingston, I have never experienced that kind of aggression or felt that unsafe at a KU party. Me and
my friends were really shocked and upset, as we have always felt very safe in Kingston and have always enjoyed parties there.” Another KU student who was at the
Photo: Sunniva Kolostyak party said: “The night of the stabbing I was at the house party. It was going on just behind Penrhyn Road. It wasn’t the victim’s house, it was another person’s party. “I only found out someone had
been stabbed when all these riot vans and ambulances suddenly turned up. “I know the victim because he works at a local bar and that is what people said. I do not know much about knife crime in Kingston but I did feel safe on the night. I think the attack was probably provoked.” A Kingston Police spokeswoman said: “Police were called by the London Ambulance Service at approximately 2.45hrs on Saturday, February 3 to reports of a stabbing on Beaufort Road, KT1. “He was taken to a West London hospital where his injuries were deemed non-life threatening and he has since been discharged.” According to UK Crime Stats, Kingston has had a steadily increasing issue with violent crimes with the number almost doubling from November 2013 to November 2017, from 62 to 117. Kingston police have been sharing their clamp down on knife carriers via Twitter using the hashtag #KnivesCostLives which details the types of weapons confiscated. Regular stop and searches have been successful with Kingston Police has charging those found with knives with possession of an offensive weapon. The enquiries into the stabbing are still ongoing. Anyone with information about the stabbing is asked to call Kingston Police via 101.
She said: “Doing the illustration animation course makes fitting in training really hard because of how busy I am. I’m also in a constant state of exhaustion - but it worked out okay in first year so I’m going to keep trusting the process. “I make sure I try to start all my projects really early and let my tutors know if competing will interfere with any of my studies.” The Dubai Grand Prix will be Kamlish’s first 100m race of the season. She reached the finals of both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympics and even broke her first world record during the heats at Rio. She placed fourth in the final. The Bath-based athlete will also
compete in the 60m sprint in the Müller Indoor Grand Prix Glasgow on February 25. Kamlish said that she tried swimming, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball all before she tried athletics and believes that there is a sport out there for anyone. She is part of KU’s Sports Performance Programme, which helps students to balance busy academic and sporting schedules. Kamlish told Kingston University last year: “Being an amputee competing at a high level is something that I think brings a different perspective to my illustrations. There aren’t many of us out there so it’s something I’d really like to take forward in the future.”
New Knights Park is revealed by uni
BY SOFIE SMEDSRUD
Student stabbed at party
BY ALICE BRADLEY
Sophie breaking her world record last year
KINGSTON UNIVERSITY released new plans for how the Kingston School of Art will look like at the end of its refurbishment in December 2019. The £30m project is particularly focused on sustainable construction and efficient use of open space. A spokesperson from KU said: “The development includes delivery of enhanced 3D and 2D workshops featuring additional bench, model-making and big-build space, as well as photography, moving image and digital media workshops” Hussein Alsaedy, who studies architecture is relieved to hear that the new plans will allow for vastly improved workspaces and studios. “The studios that we’re working in right now are quite bad and cramped,” he said. “I don’t really feel like we have our own place to be anymore. “Sometimes we have to sit at the library to make our models, and it’s not really a practical space to do that sort of thing, with a lot of dust, and things going on around us.” The new building will meet the international standard assessment for sustainability in construction as a part of the university’s measure to reduce CO2 emissions by 35 per cent by the year 2020. The new look will celebrate design which aims to protect the environment, and includes Kingston’s very first biodiverse green roof. This will function as a “haven for insects”. Students can look forward to new features to the exterior building such as an outdoor roof terrace that can be suitable for outdoor teaching.
The new photos reveal a bright future for KP The visual appearance of the campus will change by the use of LED lighting that respond to daylight sensors, reducing the use of artificial light and overheating during summer. “I love how open plan it seems to be, and how they’ve kept it simple,” said Frankie Pierce, a graphic design student. “The windows are so attractive!” The River previously reported how graphic design students had been forced to relocate from Knight’s Park campus to River House since September last year. Outraged students reported that they
were not properly consulted about the move before they applied to the course. “I don’t feel as inspired there as I did at Knight’s Park. There is less of a community feel to it,” Suzy Brewer, a second-year graphic design student told The River last October. The refurbishment is part of a decade-long initiative to improve the university’s facilities. Similar projects are taking place at Penrhyn Road campus, where the new flagship building, Townhouse, is scheduled to be finished in December of 2019.
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WUU2? Sorry babe, you have chlamydia BY MELINA PAMBOU SUNDA KU student discovered she had chlamydia after her ex-boyfriend messaged her two months after she last saw him. The ex-boyfriend ended up in hospital for two months after the STI exposed him to Reiter’s syndrome, which is a condition that causes swelling in various parts in the body, especially the knees, feet, toes, hips and ankles. The KU student, 21, who wants to stay anonymous, said: “Apparently he stayed at the hospital for two months after the doctors realised that chlamydia was the source of the pain in his feet. “I think he was in and out of the hospital for about six months.” The NHS says Reiter’s usually develops after an infection in another part of the body, particularly a sexual transmitted infection such as chlamydia. The couple met through Tinder and dated for three months before he suddenly stopped talking to her. Two months later, thinking she would never hear from him again, an unpleasant Facebook message appeared in her inbox. The message read: “You have to check yourself for chlamydia. I think you gave it to me.” The KU student said: “First of all, how did he know that I gave it to him and not the other way around? For all I know he slept with a lot of of girls before he first slept with me, so he can blame himself.” After a check at the doctor’s she was told she had chlamydia as well. Two weeks later when her chlamydia had been cured, another two messag-
How a Kingston student found out she needed to check herself via text
Don’t be a chlamy-diot... Our guide to diagnosing chlamydia Chlamydia is a common STI that can infect men and women. How to tell if you have chlamydia Note: There are always symptons but you should vsisit a doctor if these occur. Possible symptoms of chlamydia in women •An abnormal vaginal discharge. •A burning sensation when you are urinating.
•Pregnant woman can spread the infection to their child. Possible symptoms of chlamydia in men •A discharge from the penis •A burning sensation when yo are urinating •Pain and swelling in one or both of your testicles To reduce the risk always use protection with a new sexual partner.
es from her ex-boyfriend appeared in her inbox. It read: “Just for your information, I’m in the hospital now thanks to you and your STI. Your stupid recklessness got me into this hell hole. “The doctor just went and told me that I have Reiter’s syndrome, not that you’re smart enough to understand what that is.” Horrified by the message, she then read up on the disease and learned that the Reiter’s syndrome often develops after contracting an STI. She said: “My first thought, followed by a small panic attack, was that this was all my fault. However, I quickly realised that the chlamydia could have started with him infecting me. “Maybe next time he could put a condom on and have protection on his little weenie.” These series of texts were the last she heard from him and she hopes she never does again. She has deleted him
from all of her social media and closed the door on him. Over the next few months she heard from several acquaintances that the ex-boyfriend was in and out of hospital for six months. He had originally planned to study a year abroad but had to cancel it due to the hospital visits. “I guess that’s what you get for being an absolute idiot. It’s karma, what goes around comes around,” she said. According to NHS, chlamydia is one of the most common STIs in the UK and is passed on from one person to another through unprotected sex. Chlamydia is diagnosed through a visit to the GP or a self-test online. Doctor Gwenda Hughes, head of STI surveillance in the UK told The BBC: “Too many people are continuing to have unsafe sex, putting themselves at risk of STIs and the serious consequences associated with infection, including infertility.”
KNIGHTS Park campus has opened a student well-being weekly drop-in centre but students from other campuses fear they are missing out. Knights Park students are thrilled at the idea of a weekly drop-in being accessible to them, instead of finding the time to be seen at Penrhyn campus. Architecture student, Catherine Warburton, said: “We get a lot of break downs here, so I think it’s a brilliant idea to have the drop-in at this campus especially at the fact that it gives us a better chance of being seen since Penrhyn is really close to us.” Some students revealed that they belive the campus drop-in would be beneficial for those who struggle with mental health and need the help. School of Arts staff, Ellie Prizeuard said: “What puts students off going to seek help for mental health is because
it is in Penrhyn road which isn’t close. There is an openness of students confiding in their personal tutors about their struggle with mental health, so it would be an amazing facility to have.” Business management student, Aditya Tandon, is pleased with the new student well-being drop-in, however, he feels that with this new service and also the closeness of Knights Park and Penrhyn, it gives the art campus an even better chance of being seen. Tandon said: “Here at Kingston Hill we have been fighting for equal opportunity, so with the student well-being/ mental health facilities, it is something that is not made a priority. Some students stop trying to get the help because of the waiting when they need the help urgently especially those studying business and engineering courses. “It would help if the Kingston Hill
officer was based here but he’s all the way in Penrhyn Road campus. So how is he going to help with our inquiries to help better our facilities? We are the furthest away and yet we feel that there is no engagement with the union on this campus.” Roehampton officer Patrick Tatarian revealed that Kingston’s Roehampton Vale campus currently does not have a mental health facility. This means that they will have to travel to Penrhyn Road in order to get help they need, This will take longer since as other students are also waiting to be seen. Tandon says he hopes to be elected as the new Kingston Hill officer in the coming months to enforce these changes . He wants to help create better access to better mental health services for all future Kingston University students in all campuses.
9 FEBRUARY - 8 MARCH 2018
KU team aims for the stars with a glass rocket engine The engine could be used in a rocket like the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launched on Tuesday. Below: Marlow (right) and Talbot Jinks (left) BY TORJUS ROBERG A KU lecturer has invented a revolutionary rocket engine made of glass and 3D-printed plastic that has caught the interest of international businesses. Dr Jack-James Marlow, 29, has built a new type of engine that can be used for any type of rocket which slashes production costs, making it a much better alternative to engines currently on the market. “The technology has far-reaching benefits. Companies have contacted Kingston University and expressed interest,” said Marlow, who completed his PhD in January. “An interested company is aeronautical giant Airbus. “They are very keen on this technology going forward and that is possibly one of my future prospects.” The engine would make space much more accessible because it would slash costs compared to the engines that are now being used. The Falcon Heavy
KP well-being centre opens BY KHADRA SALAD
rocket launched on February 6 by Elon Musk’s SpaceX cost $90m alone. Marlow avoided the huge costs of building a rocket engine by replacing certain parts with 3D-printed plastic and a glass combustion chamber, making it the first rocket engine in the world to be made from glass. NASA attempted and failed to develop the technology Marlow created. Marlow said: “Back in 2013 everyone said ‘this will not work, it has got to have some downsides’, but I still put it forward. NASA put $20m into looking into this and I looked into it with less than a £30,000 budget and got promising results.” Together with his research assistant, third-year
aerospace engineering student Connor Talbot Jinks, Marlow built a fully functional prototype of the engine at Roehampton Vale campus. The engine can be applied to any type of rocket, from satellites to missiles and large-scale rockets such as the SpaceX model, and is roughly double the size of a normal engine. Marlow, who now lectures at Roe-
Photos: SpaceX/Jack-James Marlow
hampton Vale, plans to start a company alongside his former PhD supervisor, Dr Adam Baker, to develop the design. He also said that without the help and support of Kingston University and his assistant Talbot Jinks, he would not have been able to pursue his ideas. Marlow said: “The university was very supportive, they gave me the funds to construct a rocket lab so now we are the only UK uni-
versity that has a dedicated rocket lab. Some of the funding we got from the UK Space Agency, so we won a big grant for this engine. They gave us £100,000 to develop this. “Connor was one of the few students who had the motivation to do this. He was a good, hard-working engineer and he really applies himself.” Talbot Jinks has been working on the project alongside his own course for a year and a half and spent most of last summer doing an internship for the university to further improve the engine model. Talbot Jinks said: “It was just a really good opportunity. There is nowhere else in the UK where someone who has only been to university for less than two years can get a chance to work on something like this. Not only did it put into practice what I have learnt but it was also a massive experience that I can then use later on especially in terms of job prospects.”
Middle Mill most energy efficient halls Half of KU commutes
STUDENT DISCOUNT With valid student ID 26 Bloomfield Road, Kingston Upon Thames, KT1 2SE 020 3730 7314 www.lallapolosabaking. co.uk
BY SOPHIE PARROTT Lallapolosa serves a selection of award-winning cakes, cookies and brownies as well as a variety of freshly made lunches. This local independent bakery is located just five minutes away from Penrhyn Road and Knights Park campus.
MIDDLE Mill was named the most energy efficient halls of residence for the last academic year, according to Kingston University records. The University has reduced carbon emissions associated with halls accommodation by 55 per cent since the 20056 academic year, which has contributed to an overall carbon reduction of 29 per cent across the whole university. Spiro Spyropoulos, 19, a software engineering student who lives at Middle Mill, said: “I am quite surprised. I never thought that Middle Mill would be the most energy efficient halls at
Kingston University, but I think this is great as it helps reduce expenses to Kingston University and the money saved can be used in other areas. “We should all aim to lessen carbon emissions and strive towards a greener planet in order to help prevent contamination to ecologies on earth as they are crucial to our existence,” he added. Spyropoulos believes that more could be done to make the university “extra energy efficient”. Kingston University currently monitors energy, gas and water usage across all of its buildings and halls of residence as part of their commitment to reducing energy.
A KU spokesperson said: “The university’s target is to reduce its carbon emissions by 35 per cent by 2020, and it works closely with the National Union of Students each year to promote the Student Switch Off campaign. “Last year 28 per cent of all Kingston University students signed up to the campaign, its highest ever level of involvement.” The Student Switch off is a competition promoting environmentally friendly behaviour among students in halls. In previous years, winning flats and blocks have been treated to a enormous delivery of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at the end of the semester.
BY HANNAH ROBERTS MORE than half of KU undergraduate students commute to university for lectures and social events, according to KU’s Student Community Engagement (SCE) team. The University defines commuter students as anyone who lives outside the borough of Kingston. Whaqal Hussain, a third-year aerospace engineering student, has been commuting from his home in Windsor to Kingston since first year. The journey takes two hours via public transport or one hour by car. He said that living so far from the
university makes it harder to attend events but commuting helps him to “save thousands of pounds without expecting to sacrifice too much”. A spokesperson for the SCE team said that their research helped them to “find out who our commuter students were, where they had travelled in from, what they were studying and what potential needs they have.” Hussain said: “I did consider moving closer but the inconvenience of moving at those times and the extra expenditure and finding housemates seemed too much or too inconvenient to make it worthwhile.
IT SEEMS that even criminal activity, when glamourised by Hollywood, can be inspirational. KU student Hassan Shakir took everything good about The Wolf of Wall Street and created his own wealth from stocks without needing to resort to darker methods. How many teenagers can say that they have made £150,000 from their part-time job? Whether or not he makes his career from this, the 19-year-old pharmaceutical science student’s innovative thinking has definitely set him apart from the rest of his class. Shakir taught himself how to trade stocks by watching videos on the internett, and although this is admirable, it is definitely not an easy route to success. Another KU student who has excelled herself is Paralympian and illustrator Sophie Kamlish. Balancing her illustration workload and breaking world records is just another day in the office for her, while other students struggle to get in for a 10am lecture. Even though the University provides excellent support for her in managing her time, it’s still impressive to witness someone at the top of their game.
THE RIVER is written, edited and produced by journalism students at Kingston University. The views in the paper do not necessarily reflect those of the university. The river aims to serve the university and the local area. Our mission statement committs us to raising and addressing the issues relevant to students and local people, as well as to entertain and inform them. It is our aim to celebrate the achievements of students and local people alike. If you have information or a story, which would interest our readers, please contact us. We aim to conform to the standard codes of conduct for the profession of journalism. It is The River’s policy to print timely corrections and clarifications when we have got something wrong. If you feel we have misrepresented or that we have made a mistake, please get in touch: email@example.com Facebook: @TheRiver - Kingston Instagram: rivernewspaper Twitter: @RiverNewspaper
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9 FEBRUARY- 8 MARCH 2018
Roses are red, violets Shut up, commuters! Moving away from uni is your choice are blue, oh forget it! BY RIKKE NYLUND
The billion pound Valentine’s day industry is cheating so many loved up couples out of money. Is it really necessary to go overboard for the sake of one day of the year, says Sophie Parrott DO YOU feel personally victimised by Cupid for not having a date this Valentine’s Day? I can’t speak for everyone but I know I don’t. I have always felt that this “special day” is a little too commercially driven and overrated. So many people are clouded by unrealistic expectations of Eiffel Tower proposals, romantic Instagram-worthy getaways and lavish dinners, sealed with the sacred words: “P.S I love you”. Me personally, I’m quite happy with a bottle of wine (courtesy of Aldi), a Just Eat Chinese takeaway and having my pals over for a chinwag on the sofa. Some people that go on as if Valentine’s Day is their only chance to declare their feelings for someone. Whether it be a public declaration of unrequited love or something as simple as plucking up the courage to ask your high-school crush for their number. I just don’t understand why this can’t be done on any other day in the year. There’s a grave chance that you may be pied off anyway so why spend Valentine’s Day pining over the crush who has rejected you? Being turned down on Valentine’s Day is pretty savage so why would you put yourself through it, particularly on the most romantic day of the year? Confess your love for someone on any other day of the year to lessen the blow of rejection. As much as I hate to admit it, Tinder is here to seal the love gap for the other 364 days of the year. A lot of people seem to be much more concerned with swiping right on Tinder for anything with a pulse anyway. The dating game involves securing a crescendo of dinner dates just “for a bit of fun” and to busy their schedule for the week. So, if serial dating is just a stop-gap hobby “for a bit of fun”, then what’s the need to do it on the most romantic day of the year? Valentine’s Day in Britain is a billion-pound industry, with the average adult spending £42 on their lover, according to a 2016 study by the website eHarmony.co.uk. There is the expectation of fancy restaurants and five-star service which seems to be the making or breaking of Valentine’s Day. “So where did he take you?” your friends pry. God forbid that you admit that to your pals how content you were with your pitcher of sex on the beach and
WE ALL know that student who commutes from hours away to university and still claims that he or she will make it to every single lecture and seminar. We were all pretty shocked when that person suddenly did not show up any more, right? No, I didn’t think so. Kingston University has done research suggesting that more than 50 per cent of undergraduate students are commuting from outside of Kingston Upon Thames. Some of those students travel around two hours to get to university for a couple of hours of lectures, before travelling hours to get back. If I lived hours away I would definitely stay at home for the most part, convincing myself that checking in on Canvas once a day is equally as educational as going to lectures. But living a couple of hours away from university, travelling by bus, train or car for miles and worrying about not
Commuters stranded at London Waterloo making it to lectures on time because of unexpected traffic, is a choice. So why should we care about your complaints? “Oh, I’m so tired, I had to get up really early this morning.” “You have no
idea what it’s like to travel hours to get to university… you’re so lucky for living that close to Kingston.” I am sorry, but that excuse won’t fly with me. I am not lucky because I live
Photo: REX close to university; I made the right decision for me – knowing that I cannot have it any other way. I understand that for some people it is about saving money, and I guess
that’s fair enough. That might be the harsh reality for some people. But remember your commitment. When we make the choice to go to university, we also make the choice to attend our classes, and it is important to try our best to make it – no matter how far away we live. Also, think about how much you are missing out on. People do not always plan ahead, so when you choose to live far away, you choose to miss out on spontaneous trips to the pub, or a wonderful walk in the park. Personally, I would have ended up completely friendless, bored and uninspired if I had lived miles away from the Kingston area. I would have sunk into a hole containing Netflix, Coca-Cola and constantly texting my mother complaining about how bored I am. So, to you commuters who make it to class – I salute you, and to the ones who don’t: step up. FEATURE P16
Your phone isn’t the problem, you are! Why is real love only possible to find on Valentine’s Day? bangers and mash from Spoons. Valentine’s Day is about how much your lover has spent to symbolise their love for you - didn’t you know? So, if you’ve been treated to a Valentine’s Day at Spoons, then you better start looking for a new partner because your relationship is going down the shitter. How on earth can a student-friendly, affordable pub-lunch speak the language of love? This is a concept that I find utterly shameful: the shallow-minded attitude of some people is a real bug-bearer for me. If you are lucky enough to be spending this “special day” with someone that you genuinely love, then it shouldn’t be determined by how much money you can spend, nor should it be governed by the lavish, publicity-stunt type gestures that have been framed purely for the purpose of loyal Instagram followers. Although I have heard some successful Valentine’s Day stories from friends who have been wined and dined, that’s not to say that this day bodes well for everyone. In my days as a waitress at a high-end gastro pub, I once witnessed a divorce over a Valentine’s Day meal. To everyone’s surprise, the couple seemed to be enjoying a fine bottle of champagne and devoured their romantic meal-for-two.
Nobody was fooled by their forced smiles and hushed argumentative hisses. Positioned next door to the doomed couple was a freshly engaged couple who chinked their flutes and toasted to love at every opportunity. It was very awkward. This just goes to show that Valentine’s Day is just another divorce-filled, typical day in the year where anything can happen. Valentine’s Day window displays are out in full force in Kingston at the moment. Ann Summers are summoning people to “bring your A game” this Valentine’s Day, with their selection of raunchy-red underwear and sexy suspenders, available for the same price as your weekly food shop. It seems pointless to go to all of this effort and expense just for the sake of one day. I’m all for treating yourself to some pretty underwear once in a while but does it really need to be in aid of celebrating Valentine’s Day? What happened to the days where you could just treat yourself to some new underwear without it being bought as a tool to lure your lover into bed? And for those of you that will not be buying seductive and sexy underwear sets for Valentine’s Day, you are doomed by a day of loneliness and deprived of love and lust.
Photo: REX So, if you want to join the “A team” this Valentine’s Day, then be prepared to splash out on a few sexy sets and, perhaps, a couple of playful sex toys... whatever tickles your pickle. If you don’t conform to a traditional Ann Summers-style Valentine’s Day, then you are trailing behind on the “B team” bandwagon. You might as well wave goodbye to a romance-filled Valentine’s Day because Cupid is not coming this year. You can bring your A-game in a crap outfit if you are doing right by your partner, but the last thing you need is a shop telling you what is and is not right for them. If you want to be in on Valentine’s Day - that is fine. If you don’t- that is fine too. But there is no reason to beat yourself up about it either way, as there is nothing wrong with being alone or being with someone on Valentine’s day. B-game is not necessarily a bad game and it will be over before you even know it. If you have spotted your valentine in the corridor at Kingston University, send us a brief description of you and your crush to kingstoncrush@gmail. com for the chance to be featured in the next issue of The River - you may be lucky enough to find your soulmate. KU CRUSH P12
With social media slowly manipulating people’s sleeping habits, Torjus Roberg says it is more important than ever that we accept responsibility for our habits and stop making excuses by putting the blame on our devices I HAVE always found it scary just how much people struggle to disconnect from their phones and social media. Our phones are close to becoming appendages of our bodies at the moment and never let us rest. Perhaps it is the next stage of evolution? The expression on people’s faces the second their phone runs out of battery is probably the perfect image of the 2010s; panicked and confused at the thought of the social isolation that comes with being “off the grid”. According to a study conducted by Acta Paediatrica, there is in fact a correlation between lack of sleep and social media addiction in young people. It is not easy to be in university. It requires persistence and dedication which is why you would think that people at that age would be responsible enough to get a good night’s sleep. I realise that these devices are very integrated in society and we depend on them a lot, but to become so glued to the screen in the evening that you do not notice the hours passing by is quite frankly obsessive and you should seek professional help. This goes for any form of addiction. We are responsible for changing our habits and not just putting the blame on
the devices while we slowly sink deeper into the never-ending black hole of social media addiction. If you are having trouble sleeping at night, staring at your phone screen is the last thing you should be doing. The blue lights radiating from the screen will only make it harder for you to fall asleep by straining your eyes. According to the study, light of all the cold colours should be avoided. It feels like the more technology we are introduced to, the more ways we find to abuse them. Our devices are meant to make our lives easier by letting you do anything anywhere. However we somehow always find new ways to complain about it and blame it for our problems and bad prioritising. Never have our first-world problems been more childish and trivial. If you complain about not getting enough sleep when you stayed up until 3am scrolling through endless wannabe-funny prank videos, vine compilations and reading famous people’s tweets, the answer is very simple. Turn. Off. Your. Phone. I understand that it can be distracting and tempting to tell yourself “just one more” before going to bed, but utimately it is your fault for indulging.
Do you spend hours of your life just scrolling? Think again, says Torjus Roberg
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‘If people have problems with it just shows how backwards Student union rep Stephanie Johnson has a dancing pole in her lounge and has lessons five times a week. She tells Ine Schwebs how it helps her de-stress and builds her confidence EMPOWERMENT might not be the first word that pops up into your head when you think about pole dancing. But how much do you really know about pole dancing? Your perception is clear: a dirty bar, a couple of unhappily married or newly separated middle-aged men with too much belly fat and an intense gaze fixed at a pair of long, bare legs. You are probably also thinking: “Poor women!” and “It is not their fault. They have no other choice.” But what about when they do have a choice, and they choose to do it? Stephanie Johnson is not a pole dancer by profession. She is an ordinary woman with an MA in policy and education who works in Kingston University’s Student Union as a representation coordinator, currently organising the student elections. She is far from oppressed or out of choices. However, pole dancing is the main passion in her life. “I want to say that pole dancing is about feminism,” Stephanie says. “Just in terms of equality for all. It’s welcoming to all people. It’s not just for women, it’s for guys as well.” Although guys in pole dancing are not usually spoken about as much, it is not as rare as you may think. Stephanie practices pole dancing at the same studio as the world champion Sam King and adds that she regularly attends “heels classes” at the London Dance Academy. The class is led by a man. He is, of course, also wearing heels - in case there was any doubt. “There’s so many different types of people and it doesn’t matter, everyone empowers each other and it’s a celebration of different sizes and shapes. It’s not about how you look, it’s about what you can do.” Stephanie says that she has personally never experienced any resistance when talking about her rather extraordinary hobby, but acknowledges the stigma that pole dancers are faced with. She makes me aware of the hashtag #ILikeTheStigma, a hashtag
Johnson does pole dancing four to five times created by pole dancers to retain control over the stereotypical image most people have of them. Type it into your search-bar on Instagram and you will discover a constant flow of pictures of pole dancers pushing posts to make people aware of their pride connected to the activity. “I like the stigma,” Stephanie says. “If people have problems with pole dancing it just shows how backwards they are thinking.” In March, Stephanie will attend her first ever competition. Yes - pole dancing is also a sport. In fact, the International Federation of Pole Sport is currently campaigning for “poling” to be included as a sport in the Olympics by 2020. “It really annoys me when people say it’s not a sport. It definitely is a sport. It is a sport and it is a skill. That’s the one thing that really pisses me off, actually,” Stephanie says.
However, she is clear about not wanting to make a distinction between pole dancing and the seemingly more respectable pole sport. “When people come to me and say
When I’m having a shit day and I go and dance, I leave with a clear head. I do pole fitness, I’m like ‘no, I’m a pole dancer’ because I don’t think there should be a difference and it’s the same thing. “There’s nothing wrong with pole dancers in the same way as there is nothing wrong with people who do it for fitness,” she says and adds that this is a broader discussion within the pole dancing community. Stephanie also tells me that strippers and pole dancers have become a huge part of the feminism movement
Photo: The Image Cella in New York, inspired by fierce and empowered women such as Jacq the Stripper, who brands herself as feminist and makes comics and merchandise to provide a perspective on the actual experience of being a stripper. She has also written a book with the title: “How to not be a dick in a strip club: a patron’s guide.” Increased attention is also raised around the issue of the lack of rights and tolerable conditions for the women (and men!) choosing to work and live as strippers, an issue Stephanie is very passionate about. “It’s precarious work, the conditions aren’t great, but this is someone’s job. Why is that not regulated?” Stephanie asks. Although she is not in the profession herself, Stephanie has a lot of good friends who are strippers and says she learns pole dancing tricks from them all the time.
“It’s about free choice and I think the same thing about sex work,” she says. “Work is work. I believe that people should have the same rights and strippers are people. Everyone should respect that.” The problem is clearly the lack of respect for those working in the profession rather than the profession itself. In addition to attending pole dancing classes in London four to five times per week and additional exercises at the pole in her own living room every weekend, Stephanie also works part-time in a bar. Behind the counter. Serving beverages. “I find it hard enough dealing with misogynistic clientele as it is without having to dance for them, I’d probably end up sacked,” she says when I ask her if she would ever consider working as a pole dancer. Stephanie describes being asked to have sex for money and a customer who put his hand up her leg while she collected glasses. On another occassion, Stephanie was told that she was an “ugly aggressive bitch anyway” after rejecting a request. These stories might not seem too unfamiliar for anyone who has worked as a bartender. “I can only imagine the shit that the girls who work in [strip clubs] have to put up with and I take my hat off to them for managing that.” If the reality of strip clubs weren’t so dark, the outlook of pole dancers might have been brighter. “If the job was to do pole routines for the entire night and nothing more while making a decent amount of money, then sure. I’d rather do that than serving customers from behind a bar! I wouldn’t have to speak to anyone and get to dance all night, what could be better?” she asks. Stephanie first started to attend pole dancing classes after watching famous pole dancer Kitty Velour doing acrobatic movements in an aerial hoop at an event in London three years ago. “I saw her dancing and I was like ‘oh I want to do that” and that’s when it all started,” Stephanie says. Pole dancing has helped Stephanie build confidence as well as physical
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pole dancing they can be’
From India to Las Vegas: A snapshot of pole dancing history
and mental strength. It has also helped her cope with her anxiety and everyday struggles. “It’s the one thing that would bring me back to reality. Exercise is good for depression and all kind of mental health issues. When I’m having a shit day and I go and dance, I leave with a clear head. “I just feel fresh. I would recommend anyone who’s got any kind of issues to try it,” she says. Now she wants to start a pole dancing society and build a new community at Kingston University. For that, she needs 10 students to sign up before putting forward a request to the Student Union staff. “It’s up and coming, a lot of other unions in the country are competing
There’s nothing wrong with pole dancers in the same way as there is nothing wrong with people who do it for fitness. with each other in pole,” she says. “It would be really cool if we could put a team together, or just anyone who wants to do it. Let’s twerk!” she says laughing. Stephanie talks about the obsession with the so-called “pleasers” - the extremely high heels most pole dancers use - and explains it is a fetish. “I know pole dancers with 50 pairs of heels and there’s a competition of how high can you go,” she says while laughing. The heels she is competing in are eight inches tall. “Some people find them quite intimidating, like my boyfriend. He does not like it, but I just tell him to piss off,” she jokes. “He sees them and he’s like ‘they look scary’.” She adds that he is generally supportive of her hobby. “Otherwise I would have ended it in the early days,” she assures me. “I wonder if he finds them embarrassing because I’m so much taller than him when I put them on!” So what is the best part about pole dancing? Stephanie struggles to choose only one aspect, but finally says that the reason she keeps coming back is the fact she sees progression so quickly. “What keeps me there is how much of a real challenge it is. But when you progress, you really can see it.”
Stephanie Johnson on the pole
Photo: The Image Cella
POLE dancing and pole sport has a much longer history than many people might assume. The earliest recorded case is the Indian pole sport mallakhamb - a sport originally practised by male wrestlers - which dates back to 1135 AD, but became increasingly popular throughout the 18th century. Mallakhamb is a sport which is practised on a wooden pole. “Malla” comes from the literal translation meaning “wrestler” and “khamb” which means “of pole”. It is still popular today and is often performed by more than one dancer, using poles and ropes to perform aerial yoga positions. The Chinese pole tradition dates back to the 12th Century and mainly involved circus professionals who climbed 10-30 feet tall poles before sliding down, holding different poses. During the American depression in the 1920s, exotic dance movements featured in performances by a group of dancers called ‘hoochie coochies’ who put on shows for crowds in tents, using the pole holding the tent in place to perform sensual movements. The first modern type of pole dance was in 1968. Throughout the 80s strip clubs in Canada and the US it became increasingly popular before spreading across to Europe and other parts of the world during the 90s. The most prominent contributor to pole dancing as we know it today is arguably the Canadian-born Fawnia Dietrich who was the first to introduce a pole dancing lesson in 1994. She produced a DVD that inspired thousands of women worldwide to learn pole dancing without leaving their living room. Dietrich later started the first-ever pole dancing school and from 2000 onwards, pole dancing has marked itself as a sport and popular way of getting fit, with more and more competitions taking place. The first World Pole Sports Championships took place in 2012. The International Pole Sports Federation are currently carrying out a campaign to include pole sports in the Olympics by 2020.
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KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH
Can The River help you find love? If you spot yourself below in a message from your admirer, drop us
an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put you in touch TALL, dark and handsome guy with scruffy hair, and a green and white backpack who was in the Jacqueline Wilson Hall on January 26 2018 in the morning. Not that I’m a stalker or anything, but it’s hard to forget you. Biomed student TO the Irish girl with the beautiful smile at Knights Park. I want to be your teardrop. Born in your eyes, live on your cheeks, and die on your lips. p.s. Your new haircut looks so good on you. Boy with the green hat TO the very tall brunette boy, with the cute pointy nose who works in the shop at the front of Penrhyn Road...I love your small talk and the way you handle my debit card so gently. I would like to see the way you could handle
other things... I will wink at you the next time we cross paths. Mysterious girl TO the gorgeous blonde in the union sports office, your beautiful smile makes my day whenever I see you. Maybe we could grab a ham sandwich sometime? Your favourite sportsman TO the tall, tattooed scouser in the library, you’re cool and I’d like to show you my African Land Snail one day soon? Girl in the blue coat TO the girl with the avocado sock, you rock, forget international relations, let me meet all your Valentine’s day expectations. Red haired devil
9 FEBRUARY- 8 MARCH 2018
Dress to impress this Valentine’s
The River’s Melina Pambou Sundfør and Aimée Wilson have selected the best high street picks for any Valentine’s occasion. Whether you’re spending ‘galentines’ with friends watching the new Fifty Shades or on a hot Tinder date, we have got the right outfit sorted for you
CUTE brunette boy with the beige shearling jacket who I spotted on the uni bus a few weeks ago. We smiled briefly but then I got off at Kingston Hospital. Next time I see you, I’ll be sure to stay on the bus for a little longer and come over to say hi. Blue-eyed blonde girl
It is that time of year again. Red roses, chocolate, romantic movies, ice-cream and tears, it’s Valentine’s Day. The ‘oh so nervous’ day is sneaking up on us and it’s time to find the ultimate outfit. Whether you intend to spend the evening with a hot new Tinder date or your longtime partner, a perfect outfit is a must. And
TO the tall, bearded, dark-haired guy that I always see at Kingston Hill, I love your style. Maybe you should take me for a coffee? We could be KU’s best dressed couple. Brunette girl in the leather jacket
Tell us about your KU CRUSH. Email us at email@example.com and you could be featured. You could even bag yourself a date in time for Valentine’s Day!
for all you single ladies, Valentine’s Day is the perfect day for you to dress up and show your fabulous self. First of all, to shine you have to feel comfortable. Do not wear a skinny-ass dress which will make it hard for you to breathe even before the main course arrives at the table. Woman to woman, we all know food
babies exist, so embrace the fact and wear something comfortable. There is no secret that a Valentine’s date might lead to something else. If this is your goal for the evening, don’t make the mistake of wearing a turtleneck on your date. Showing some skin is sexy and alluring. But notice, we said some.
A little bit of (faux) leather never hurt nobody
Host your first date at the Picton Room
To send a signal through your clothes is never a bad idea, so maybe you should try a little leather. Leather signals power, passion and excitement. But remember to wear it in moderation, not head to toe, or you will look like a geriatric dominatrix. A leather jacket worn over a cute dress is flirty and sexy. Otherwise grab some leather-look trousers, pair with a statement slogan t-shirt for the perfect casual chic date night outfit.When around you everyone will be wearing cute dresses, your fierce outfit will surely be a head-turner. For all you animal lovers, faux leather looks just as smashing.
Photo: Sophie Parrott
KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH KU CRUSH
Leather-look trousers (main photo) - £20 (Boohoo)
A sneak peak is better than a striptease - show some skin this Valentine
Rock the Red Nothing says Valentine’s Day quite like the colour red. It’s romantic, flirty, sexy and eye catching, maybe all you want from a Valentine’s outfit? Furthermore, according to science, the colour red has the capacity to get you laid and red also symbolises courage, strength, confidence, spontaneity and determination. With this information in mind and if I have done my calculations right, this sounds like a win-win situation. Try pairing a red midi dress with strappy heels and a cute choker for the ultimate dinner and drinks date night outfit. Dress (see above) - £19.99 (New Look)
Show some skin, but don’t overdo it. A good Valentine’s outfit should always be classy and tasteful. Trying to make “sexy” happen in skimpy clothes may have the reverse effect of making you look tacky instead. When it comes to showing flesh, less is always more. A sneak peek is better than a striptease. The best way to do this is to wear long-sleeved tops rather than small bralets, as this may give the wrong impression. Keep the cleavage to a minimum but don’t be shy. Why not try a nude bodysuit to show off your curves and create a classy outfit vibe when paired with jeans. Nude bodysuit (see left) £10 (Boohoo)
Lounge around in style and comfort On the other hand, if you so happen to be one of those who can’t be bothered to fall for the love cliché, a night on the sofa eating chocolate watching The Notebook has never sounded better. Dress up in the perfect loungewear set and eat all the chocolate you can bear. There’s nothing better than a night watching a film with your girlfriends, but what better way than to spend it in a cute, comfy outfit. Mink velour sweater (left)- £22 (Next) Mink velour pants (left)- £20 (Next)
9 FEBRUARY - 8 MARCH 2018
9 FEBRUARY- 8 MARCH 2018
The Wombats’ lastest album definitely won’t ruin your life BY JAMES MICHIE EVERY issue we will provide a quick rundown of the four hottest gigs in the Kingston and South London area. In this week’s issue we will be covering the gigs and club events in February. We will also include ticket price ranges and the venues they are performing at helping you get the best out of London life.
The Wombats will be performing at Hippodrome in Kingston on Thursday February 15. Photo:The Wombats
2018 NME awards with a performace from Liam Gallagher When: Wednesday 14 February Where: 02 Academy Brixton
Sleep? There’s a nap for that Students are becoming increasingly distracted by their phones at night
Are you struggling to sleep? Spend all night on your phone? Sophie Parrott explores why students inflict sleep deprivation on themselves BEING a student is tiring. Three years of hard-core binge drinking, partying into the early hours at Hippodrome’s finest foam parties, and devouring greasy food from Eden Kebab to soak up the hangover from hell. Naturally, the student lifestyle does not lend itself to early nights and hours of undisturbed beauty sleep. In a lot of cases, sleep deprivation in students is entirely self-inflicted, particularly if a night out on the lash is involved. But is there an alternative explanation to what is causing this never-ending tiredness? A study published in Acta Paediatrica, a peer-reviewed monthly journal for international paediatric research, has found a correlation between increased social media usage and a lack of sleep. The 5,242-wide study of Canadian students between 11 and 20-years old found that 63.3 per cent of participants slept for less than recommended. People aged 18 and above are recommended to sleep between seven and nine hours per night. The study also found that 73.4 per cent of participants use social media for at least one hour per day which concluded that a greater use of social media was associated with shorter sleep durations among the participants. Senior author, Dr. Jean-Phillipe Chaput of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, summarised in the report: “The impact social media can have on sleep patterns is a topic of great interest given the well-known adverse effects of sleep deprivation on health. Electronic screen devices are pervasive in today’s
society and we are just starting to understand their risks and benefits.” Dr. Neil Stanley, a sleep expert, said that individuals need to decide how much sleep they need themselves. “You need to work out how much sleep you need to feel your best and then put this amount of time aside each day to get a good sleep. “You should spend at least 30 minutes winding down before bed. This means turning the TV or computer off and doing the things that help you quieten the mind and relax your body; don’t do work and don’t argue with your partner.” Most students at university suffer from ‘psychological fatigue’ which is a type of stress caused by a combination of overworking and a lack of sleep.
I probably spend about half of my day on my phone, until the minute I go to sleep A study conducted by the University of Virginia Tech found that this type of fatigue is particularly prominent in students due to varied sleep patterns, the stress of deadlines, and juggling extracurricular activities with external job schedules. Balancing different university modules simultaneously can be exhausting. Third-year KU drama student Georgie Barlow, 20, has had difficulty sleeping
since high school. She said: “Sometimes when I find uni has been extra stressful or I’ve been working late, my mind can’t rest or shut off, so I often end up staying up from that. I also deal with anxiety and seem to suffer worse from it at night. “I probably spend about half of my day on my phone because it’s how I keep in contact with my friends. I think it impacts my sleep when I’m on my phone until the minute I try to sleep. I also find when I can’t sleep, or I’m struggling to relax, I scroll through Twitter or Instagram for hours.” Barlow said that her mind seems to focus on whether or not she has enough time to complete everything that she needs to before going to bed. The drama student commonly goes on YouTube to distract herself from feeling stressed and to make herself sleepy when she is wide awake at night. She says that she isn’t addicted to social media or to using her phone, but her social media usage does impact her more when she can’t sleep. “I’ve done yoga a few times to try and stretch my body out and relax, I’ve also used sleep sprays to put on my pillows, but it’s hard to tell if they work.” So, how does being on your phone before you go to bed contribute to a lack of sleep? In an interview with besthealthmag, Dr. Helen Driver, an assistant professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, said that the blue light emitted from phones and tablets is overstimulating. She said: “If you look at how a normal day goes, dawn is bluer light and dusk, when you should be going to
5 reasons you are addicted to your phone BY MELINA PAMBOU SUNDFØR You suffer from FOMO, fear of missing out. You can’t stand the idea that someone posts a picture on Instagram or a story on Snapchat and you’re not the first one to see it. Always finding it hard to fall asleep? Scrolling through social media at night makes you engaged in different topics, your mind starts wandering and this makes it harder for you to relax and fall asleep. You don’t have a proper bedtime routine. Your body needs the comfirmation that it will soon fall asleep, you can’t expect your body to go from serious Instagram stalking to total relaxation in five minutes. Constantly fighting against the burn in your eyes? This is your body telling you that it has had enough and it’s time to sleep. If you constantly overlook the sign, the burning will end but you will find it even harder to fall asleep now. Wake up in the middle of the night thinking it’s a good idea to check Instagram? FOMO strikes again and you definitely have an addiction. How many major life changing events could have happened during the last hours? Probably none. bed, is a warmer red light, which is less alerting.” It is the overstimulation from these devices that cause individuals to become wide awake at night. The NHS has published guidelines that outline the importance of getting the recommended amount of sleep per night. Research has shown that a lack of sleep can result in weight gain as sleep-deprivation causes an increased level of ghrelin, a hunger-stimulating hormone. Chronic sleep debt can also lead to long-term mood disorders such as de-
pression and anxiety, an increased risk of developing diabetes, and coud lead to a poor sex drive. If you are suffering from a lack of sleep then perhaps it’s time for a social media detox. Get a few early nights under your belt and stash your phone somewhere out of reach. Put it in a place where you won’t be tempted to carry out a midnight Twitter stalk because you can’t sleep. After all, sleep comes naturally: you can even do it with your eyes closed. COMMENT P11
This year’s NME awards will once again be held at the 02 Academy Brixton on Wednesday February 14. It will be a rock n roll filled night with a special performance from Liam Gallagher at the end. Tickets are going quick and range from £40-£80 on Viagogo.
The Wombats When: Thursday 15 February Where: The Hippodrome Following the release of their promising new album Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, The Wombats will be performing live at The Hippodrome Kingston on Thursday 15. At a very fair price this is a must see event. You can purchase a copy of the album and a ticket at Banquet Records website for £15.00.
Wilkinson When: Friday 16 February Where: 02 Academy Brixton Dance DJ Wilkinson has performed everywhere over the last few years and will be performing a set at the 02 Academy Brixton on Friday 16. He is best known for his hits Afterglow and Sweet Lies which will definitely get the crowd going. It’s a must see event. Its selling out fast with tickets ranging from £30-£60 on Ticketmaster.
Franz Ferdinand When: Saturday 24 February Where: 02 Academy Brixton The Scottish band released their new album Always Ascending on February 9 and recently performed at the Kingston Hippodrome. Tickets are ranging between £30£50 on Ticketmaster.
BY HANNAH ROBERTS THE Wombats’ fourth album, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, clings furiously to the feel-good rock we have come to expect from them. It may have been three years since their last album, Glitterbug, but Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life makes it seem like The Wombats have grown up almost overnight. The slower pace of this album showcases frontman Matthew “Murph” Murphy’s beautiful, almost conversational vocals, without losing the catchy melodies that gained the band such popularity since its inception in 2003. Murph said that since his move to Los Angeles, he’s become a lot less anxious which he puts down to “just getting older” and that clarity really shines through in their new music. Gone are the frenzied beats and hy-
peractive melodies. In their place rests a version of The Wombats that will surprise fans, but not necessarily in a bad way. You would never guess that the songs were written separately, the way they fuse together so effortlessly. From the teasingly understated opening chords of Cheetah Tongue, the first
of 11 tracks on the album and pre-released as a single, it becomes clear that The Wombats know how to make the most of their talent in an uncharacteristically well-ordered tune. Turn may at first seem like one of the album’s softer songs, but the vocals and guitar riffs pack a mighty punch – it is a catchy track with synth-pop vibes that encapsulates the best of The Wombats in only three and a half minutes. Black Flamingo has the firmest sense of the “old” Wombats for those craving a peek into the band’s past. Memories of a particularly boozy night out with friends will resurface when Lethal Combination comes on. It’s the song you listen to when you’re feeling down and deciding whether or not to go out at all. But as the lyric goes, don’t forget: “If you wake up feeling happy, you’re
BY RIKKE NYLUND MGMT`s new album Little Dark Age is a well thought out album. Each tune manages to stand out from and their originality is impressive. However it does not deliver all the way. Little Dark Age is their return to the spotlight after being away from the public eye for the last four years. The band is an American psychedelic rock band formed in 2002. The music is all over the place at times and can somehow make you exhausted just by listening to it. Their album will be released on Friday February 9, the day after their gig at Kingston College. MGMT’s title song, and second track, starts off with the words: “Breathing in the dark, lying on its side, the ruins of the day.” Despite the dark lyrics, the song is very well done.
It starts off slow, and then builds itself up. It is worth paying attention to the words, as it is what makes it as clever as it is. The music and the words work perfectly together. It is original, and the sound is different from mainstream music. Although, it is worth pointing out that there is nothing mainstream about MGMT. The first track on the album, She Works Out Too Much, is a letdown as the song kicks off the album by making you want to turn it off. There is too much going on with the melody that it is almost impossible to figure out what to focus on, and the second you figure it out, the music changes again. The track could easily give you a headache if you are not in the right mood, and the more you hear of it the more annoyed you will get.
Tslamp, which stands for “time spent looking at my phone”, is another wholesome and fantastic song. Lyrically, it is a song we can all relate to: “I’m wondering where the hours went, as I’m losing consciousness, my sullen face is all aglow, time spent looking at my phone.” The vocals in this song are very soothing and relaxing, and the beat is heavily dominated by keyboard and drums. This is a track worth listening to, and even if you are not into psychedelic rock, the lyric itself makes it worth it. All the songs heavily rely on keyboard and drums, which is what creates the psychedelic element to the album that the band’s fans love so much. Their new album might not contain an instant classic like the song Kids, but does have a few amazing tunes
The Wombats new album art Photo: The Wombats
doing it wrong.” I Don’t Know Why I Like You But I Do, the eleventh and final track, rounds off the album. With flourishes of intense guitar riffs, pained vocals and harsh drums, at the end of the track listeners are leftwith just reverberating silence to keep them company. The Wombats have done well to cling on to their identifiable sound for so long while continuing to inject fresh life into every album they bring out. Having sanded off the rougher edges, they have created an album that is sleek but sticks in the mind. As Murph croons in Turn, “maybe it’s the crazy that I’d miss” – but then again, maybe not. Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life will be available everywhere February 9 2018.
worth listening to. Even though it might not be everyone’s favourite, the album is well made, sticks to their genre, is original and has a lot of excellent lyrics.
MGMT: Little excitement in the dark age
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The Oscars are terrified of change, and ‘The Florida Project’ proves it BY SOFIE SMEDSRUD
MOONEE, a six-year-old girl, lives at a motel with her young mother who is living from paycheque to paycheque. She is one of the hundreds of hidden homeless living on the outskirts of Orlando, Florida, out of sight from the billion-dollar tourism industry. Moonee and her friends, with only highways separating them from Disney World, are growing up in the backyard of “the happiest place on earth”. The Florida Project is a vibrant and powerful film that exposes the day-today struggles of poverty in America. It draws the viewer back to childhood, feeling as if you are standing on the sidewalk with Moonie, sweating in the hot and humid Florida sun, with nothing to do and nowhere to go. The Florida Project was praised at its Cannes festival premiere in May last year but was, to the surprise of many, overlooked by the Oscars for a Best Picture nomination. The Academy is known for overlooking smaller-budget productions despite their quality. My own calculations point to Dunkirk, with a price tag of $100m (£72m), as the safest bet for the winner of Best Picture this year. Its star-studded cast, foundation in real life (eight
The Florida Project shows the other side of the American dream out of 13 Best Picture winners since 2004 have been based on true stories) and obsession with the Second World War (Schindler’s List, Sophie’s Choice and The Pianist all won Best Picture) makes it a clear winner. The director of The Florida Project, Sean Baker, had a budget of only $2m (£1.4m) and it was shot on 35mm film
over the course of a summer. The most fascinating element of the film, however, is the casting of one of its leading roles. It is normal, and even necessary, to cast an A-list actor who can carry the movie and appeal to a mass audience. Moonee’s troubled mother, Halley, is played by 24-yearold Bria Vinaite from New York.
Photo: REX Baker stumbled across her profile on Instagram, and was instantly drawn in by her carefree attitude, lifestyle and self-deprecating humour. She had never acted a day in her life, but to him, she was Halley. A couple of months after the director had sent a DM to her on Instagram, she found herself playing opposite the
three-time Oscar nominee, Willem Defoe (Spider-Man, Antichrist, Platoon). Defoe, the only recognised actor of the cast, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor this year. It seems it is only through an A-list actor that a lowbudget story can be told. The director is best known for his masterpiece Tangerine, filmed on an iPhone 5S, which follows a pair of transgender prostitutes over the course of Christmas Eve in a shady L.A. neighbourhood. The $100,000 (£72,000) budget film picked up a massive following after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. But Tangerine, like the Florida Project, did not get the credit it deserved and was overlooked by the Oscars. The hidden homeless of Florida are not as glamorous as the fantasy film The Shape of Water, and not as nostalgic as the war epic Dunkirk. The Florida Project is a bit too close to home in its depiction of our own backyards than we would rather see. It takes a rare, brave direction that other mainstream films do not. It is living proof that the Academy only nominates Hollywood high-budget productions and will not recognise the independent masterpieces that represent the evolution of film.
Shadow of the Colossus is more beautiful than ever on PS4 BY JAKE PATEL IT IS rare for a 13-year-old game to stand the test of time but Sony’s Shadow of the Colossus does just that. The orginal Shadow of the Colossus was developed by the same developers behind slightly older critically acclaimed PS2 game Ico. Remastered by developer Bluepoint, Shadow of the Colossus on the PlayStation 4 is just as ground-breaking now as it was in 2005. With brand new in-game features, a reworked lighting system and a new graphics engine, the developers have managed to recapture the original game’s beauty and grandeur. It is simply one of the best games available on the PS4 right now. In Shadow of the Colossus you take on the role of a young adventurer named Wander who enters a forbidden land with his dead partner Mono. As Wander, you embark on a quest to kill 16 massive beasts called colossi which will restore Mono’s life and bring her back to you. Where this game stands out is in its simplistic game design. There are no
towns, dungeons or side quests, just the one overarching goal of vanquishing 16 giant beasts and bringing your lover back to life. Your only companion in this game is Wander’s horse, Agro, which you use to traverse the massive game world. The game has also been categorised as a puzzle game which is accurate as each of the monsters you face have different weaknesses and patterns which you must first learn before you have any hope of slaying them. Once you have figured out how to take down the gigantic beasts, nothing can match the feeling you get as the music swells while you climb the creature and you struggle to hold on as your grip meter slowly drains while the beast tries to shake you off. This remaster also fixes a number of glaring issues that the original had including the clunky and awkward control scheme for climbing around the environment and beasts. Also, the game no longer struggles during intense moments when there’s a lot happening on screen. The game runs at a steady 30 frames per second on the PS4 and can also run
at a 60 frames per second on the PS4 Pro which makes the environments and battles feel even more cinematic and jaw-dropping than before. The one issue that has not been fixed is the sometimes awkward and clunky feel of the camera. In some tight spaces, the picture can corrupt as it moves across the screen. It is ugly and sometimes you can even lose track of where the main character is. Another minor annoyance is the fact that the horse can sometimes become stuck on different parts of the environment and is not always responsive. All in all, Shadow of the Colossus is a must-own for any PS4 owner. It was one of the first games that started the debate that video games can be considered as an art form and that is still true now more than ever. With fantastic visuals and minimalistic design, this is a game that everyone should try at least once. This remaster manages to recapture the 2005 original’s beauty and heart-breaking story. It is not merely a remaster but also one of the best PS4 games in recent memory and is easily 9 out of 10. It is out on February 7.
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‘I want to be the best in the world,’ says KU runner after England debut BY NATHAN THOMAS A KINGSTON University student has said he wants to be the best runner in the world after his 400 metres England athletics debut win in Slovakia. Jamal-Marcus Rhoden-Stevens, 23, spoke to The River about his battle with injuries, balancing his hectic life and his Michael Johnson inspired dream to one day be the number one runner in the world. “I want to be an Olympian, there is no doubt about that. The goal is Tokyo 2020, simple as that,” Rhoden-Stevens said to The River. “I want to be the best 400 metre runner in the world, and I want to set a world record and I really believe I can do that. “I know every athlete says this, but I really believe I have the ability. My confidence is my best asset. I know a lot of people are confident, but I believe in my ability so much.” Rhoden-Stevens was speaking after a debut win in Bratislava in Slovakia in mid-January, where he beat athletes from Turkey and Poland for his country. England Athletics host this meeting each year as an opportunity for young athletes to showcase their talent on the national stage. Despite the call-up being a surprise to him, the sprinter believes his win has put himself in contention for a call up to the Great Britain team for the world indoor championships in Birmingham later this year. However, Wsprinter RhodenStevens was still critical on the pace of his race in Slovakia: “I can definitely run quicker than that. “The nature of the track and the pace of the other athletes meant I ran a bit
of a slower race than I normally would have, the time was not my best.” Despite his self-confidence, RhodenStevens sharp rise through the rankings comes as a surprise to him. He said that he had always been quick at school but never thought much of it. He only took track racing seriously four years ago, after giving up semi-professional football. “I also used to be good at the short stuff, the 100 metres and 200 metres but unfortunately a few hamstring injuries hindered my progress. “Because of my hamstrings I took a bit of pressure of the short and sharp stuff that stresses them more and tried the 400. This was only two years ago and now I’m one of the best in England.” Rhoden-Stevens said his biggest inspiration was former 400 metre world record holder Michael Johnson, praising his iconic status and unique technique resonating with him when he was a child. The second-year biomedical student also spoke of how challenging it can be balancing university life and chasing his Olympic aspirations. He is also an evangelist, with his Twitter bio claiming to be the ‘fastest evangelist in the world.’
Photo: William Cornelius
Rhoden-Stevens races to victory in Slovakia “During competition times I like my mind to be fresh so it is definitely hard trying to balance university life and chasing my dream. “I train about five or six times a week, as you can imagine it can be really stressful at times so along with university work on top of that it is a lot to handle sometimes and does get really hectic. “Even when you do not have much on at university and I should be doing work, the training does shatter me out,
Photo: Davis Lowes
but, it will all be worth it when I set that world record and I get my first medal.” Rhoden-Stevens drive is clear to see and he is hoping his ability will take him from Kingston to Tokyo and any championships beyond this. His England debut has given him a taste of running on the international stage and he is only hungry for more. Hopefully his first win as a professional runner is just the beginning for the young student, he believes he will be an olympic althlete soon.
KU smash LSE 8-0 in emphatic hockey victory BY AUKASH ZAHID HANNAH Denison starred as she scored four goals to help KU enjoy their first league win of the season in style, beating London School of Economics 8-0. Denison opened the scoring after just 11 minutes with a great strike to ease the nerves of her team. She said: “I have not been able to play for a few weeks, so it was nice to get back on the pitch with the girls. “This was one of our best performances of the season. Everything was going for us. It was a great game.” Denison, who plays in centre midfield and studies pharmacology, grabbed a first half hat-trick after a superb solo run beginning from the half-way line. Sasha Flynn also scored to ensure KU comfortably led 4-0 at half-time. LSE came out strong in the second half, but conceded six minutes in as Denison grabbed her fourth goal of the game with a trademark solo run. LSE’s captain, 19-year-old Lisa Pentaleri said: “We struggled. They were pressing very hard, and we’re not used to that, so we were struggling to get our players going.” Milly Smith, Bethany Goodliffe, and Olivia Bunni added gloss to the score line to make the victory safe. This was KU’s first league win of the season, and has lifted them off the bottom of the table. Ellie Clark, 20, Captain of KU, said: “We lost 8-0 in our last match, so this was a great win for us. It all just came together in this game. “The sunny weather helped as well. It put us all in a good mood and kept us motivated.” KU’s next game is away against Sussex on Wednesday February 21.
Kingston karter’s race to bronze medal in first meeting of the season BY NATHAN THOMAS
Jump back into the Forbidden Land from February 7
KINGSTON’S karting team earned a well deserved podium position in their first race day of the season. This year’s performance was a significant improvement on the last British Universities Karting Competition’s outing, with the team climbing 30 places to finish tenth out of 54 British universities. The karters also sped into a bronze medal position in their intermediate class which is what the team were aiming for. The first round of the championship, on Wednesday January 31, was hindered by treacherous conditions due to drizzly weather all day. Oxford Brookes were overall winners on the afternoon after dominating the field. “I am so happy that we achieved an intermediate medal position, I said in my interview with The River in No-
vember that I wanted to achieve this and that’s what we did,” said karting captain Andrew Hunt, 20. “However, I am disappointed with my own performance as I made a couple of silly mistakes and they cost me badly.” Hunt blamed his performance on his individual sprint race on the difficult conditions at Buckmore Park, in Kent. He had started the afternoon in third on the grid but the karter on pole position was slow getting off, meaning his start was significantly hindered. “I clawed my way back to tenth after my poor start, only to spin out of control due to weather. “Luckily, Adrian had a great sprint race and was pivotal in the endurance race to earn us that medal,” Hunt said. The race day itself contained two rounds, a sprint race and an endurance race. The sprint involves four drivers
from each team individually racing for 25 minutes at a time. The endurance race takes place in the afternoon and was where the Kingston team excelled. Kingston’s four racers Hunt, Adrian Jarych, Sam Righton and James Mansion finished tenth here. This was the teams highest position of the afternoon, which was enough to earn them a medal in their class. All the karts are the same model which means skill of driving is vital if racers want to earn a medal. “The adrenaline that karting gives you is something that no other sport can match,” said automotive engineering student Jarych, 22. Jarych was Kingston’s saviour on the day, finishing tenth in his sprint endurance race and driving a pivotal stint in the race to ensure another tenth position to bring the medal home.
Jarych races a vital stint into 10th
Photo: Stu Stretton
9 February - 8 March 2018
Reading’s flurry of late goals force Kingston men’s football to a bruising defeat at home Kingston 2 Goals: Ofosu (2)
Goals:Barnet ,Lake , Lloyd (2) BY NATHAN THOMAS A BRUISING encounter at Tolworth saw Kingston lose 4-2 at home to Reading University. Oscar Cotting flattened the Reading keeper in a clash which saw three yellow cards. Kingston Cougars returned to Tolworth looking to avenge the unfortunate 2-1 defeat inflicted by Reading two weeks ago. Kingston Captain Greg Potts said: “I’m pretty devastated to be honest.We were flat today and didn’t play how we usually would. “I’ll hold my hands up too, I had such a poor game.” The home side came close to a breakthrough in the eighth minute after a great run from right-back by Pranav Thapa led to a sumptuous ball into the box finding the unmarked Sesay. His first time effort was guided agonisingly onto the right-hand post, as the Reading keeper stranded. Despite the home side’s early pressure, it was the away side who broke the deadlock. A speculative effort from Reading’s Nick Barnett from 25-yards flew into the top corner in the 20th minute totally against the run of play. Kingston keeper Tom Gurney did get a touch on the powerful effort but it wasn’t enough to divert it off target and the ball flew in. Kingston’s equaliser deservedly came ten minutes after Reading’s opener. A deep set piece from Sesay from the right found Yaw Ofosu at the back post. Ofosu produced a fine
towering header across the keeper just inside the six-yard-box. It was his second goal in two week’s and just like last week’s 3-0 win against Chichester it came from a Sesay set-piece. Sesay fashioned two chances of his own looking for Kingston’s second before half-time but both efforts were wild and over. Marco De Sousa and Jaedan Potts were also booked as well as Reading’s goalscorer Barnett in what was becoming a feisty encounter. “I did think we had the better of the first half and had the better chances. We were probably unlucky to only be drawing at halftime and had chances,” added Greg Potts. Reading’s second half dominance finally prevailed as a break down the left-wing allowed Max Lake to guide a free header past Gurney in the 68th minute. This left Kingston with it all to do. Another tricky delivery from a Reece Carter-Allen corner went all the way through the Reading box without a Kingston touch. A loose pass from captain Potts allowed Reading to further assert their lead in the 80th minute to effectively seal the three points for the visitors. Lloyd capitalised on the ball that slowed on the bobbly pitch to guide an easy shot past Gurney. Lloyd compounded more misery on the home side to double his tally for the afternoon as he rounded the keeper for a second goal in five minutes. It was a clinical second half performance from the visitors. Ofosu added a late goal for Kingston tapping home from a J.Potts shot for his fourth goal in three games. This result meant Kingston lost ground on leaders LSE with Reading pulling further ahead leaving The Cougars third place behind Reading
KU COUGAR ROUND UP:
Cotting clashes with Reading keeper
Photo: Louie Chandler