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KINGSTON UNIVERSITY AND SOUTH WEST LONDON Issue No. 51

www.riveronline.co.uk

December 9 - December 16 2011

Why the tragic death of football’s Gary Speed was not in vain - shattering the stigma of male depression at Kingston P6

Kingston to face New Year strikes Lecturers set for more union strikes as soon as January By Daphne Tona-Weyalo K0901891 EXCLUSIVE Lecturers’ unions are threatening to cause disruption and cancelled lessons for Kingston students with plans for at least three more days of strikes in the New Year. The news comes a week after the University was almost completely closed during the November 30 public sector strike against Government cuts. The reforms will mean public sector workers to pay an average 3.2 per cent extra from their salary in pension contributions. The chair of the Kingston branch of the University and College Union (UCU), Andrew Higginbottom, said: “We’re pleased with the progress, but against the scale of what we’re confronting we still need to campaign. “We’re looking at the real possibility of more strike days, more days of mobilisation going into next semester. “I know that one idea is to have a two-day strike. “We’re certainly not trying to hurt students, but I appeal to our colleagues to see that we should be working together so that we can all defend our pensions.” Mr Higginbottom condemned colleagues who taught during the November strike, accusing them of

Trade unions fight against public sector pension cuts

being “narrow-minded”. The national UCU have passed a motion to “escalate the action quickly and significantly” and said that there was a unanimous call to hold a one day strike early in the spring term. This should be “immediately” followed by regional action, and will finally end with a 48-hour national strike. There has also been speculation that these strikes could be held as early as January. During the November 30 strike, an estimated 100 Kingston students and staff at one point barricaded the main entrance. It led to the majority of lessons

Pic: Joyce See

being cancelled, much to the dismay of many students who have pending deadlines and exams. Dr Robin Pettitt, a senior lecturer in comparative politics and a member of UCU, said: “It is always unfortunate that ‘innocents’ are caught up in a strike. “This, however, does not mean that strikes should not happen. “I suspect that anyone who complained about the disruption caused by the strike will complain even more if they one day find that their pension is not worth enough for them to live on.” Continued on page 4

The Christmas tree need not be the only thing that sparkles. Add a bit of shimmer to your wardrobe. We’ll show you how on page 21


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December 9 2011 - December 16 2011

KU’s £300,000 pledge doesn’t smell like roses

INDEX: News

1-11

Comment

12-14

Features

15-18

Entertainment

19-22

Sports

23-24

NEWS

By Umberto Bacchi and Jamila Soso-Vincent

Kingston demolish University of the Arts

Contact The River: editors.river@gmail.com Twitter: @Rivernewspaper Facebook: facebook.com/TheRiverNewspaper Tel: 0208177019 The River, Kingston University Penhryn Road Campus Kingston Upon Thames

A majority of Kingston students are backing KU’s continued financial support for the Rose Theatre- but they believe the latest £300,000 grant is too much. The university recently announced it had thrown the theatre a lifeline, securing its future for another 12 months, but students believe that most of the money could have been put to better use. Of 100 students polled 60 per cent believed that the sum should have been lower and nearly ten per cent thought the Rose should receive no money from the university at all. Only 16 per cent thought the grant was fair. Omid Mirabzadeh, a criminology student, said: “This amount of money could be better spent on improving the heating system in the Town House. They could have

sent an email about that before they spent £300,000. “Are we students not seen as part of the KU? Don’t we have the right to a say in these matters?” The university’s decision comes despite a cut in Government funding for higher education, a rise in tuition fees and concerns that student numbers will drop next year. Jacqueline Smart, a performance and screen studies lecturer, said that although her department received funding for 2011-12, it was a “battle” to secure it. “Like many university departments we would like more staff, more space and more funds,” she said. A university spokeswoman said: “The university does not anticipate a need to make substantial savings that would compromise the delivery of services to students.” She also added that the university would continue to support the theatre for the coming year in ex-

KU has given the Rose Theatre a £300,000 financial lifeline

change for the use of facilities for events including graduations. “The Rose Theatre has been a catalyst for economic growth in the area and has provided a significant cultural boost to Kingston,” she said. The Rose Theatre was given this lifeline after suffering a difficult financial year. Last January, Kingston Council cut its annual support of the Rose Theatre by £100,000 and in March, the Arts Council refused the theatre’s £600,000 grant request. As a result, the theatre had to make four employees redundant. Despite financial pressures, Da-

Pic: Rose Theatre

vid Fletcher, executive director, insisted the theatre was not in danger of being shut down. He said: “We are hugely grateful to Kingston University for its support. It is an indispensible part of our income. This relationship is crucial in so many ways and is much more than a funding arrangement.”” This year, the Rose has signed two funding agreements. The theatre’s autumn season was supported HCBS and Esmée Fairbairn, an independent foundation supporting arts, which gave the Rose £75,000. Four more sponsors will be supporting the spring season.

Students stay app-solutely safe this Christmas By Amaly Alfi K0901039

Scan these codes with your smartphone throughout the paper and leave a comment under articles at RiverOnline.co.uk

A new iPhone app has been created, encouraging students to stay safe without any hassle or difficulties. Lookout Call is an iPhoneexclusive app and has a free oneweek trial period and those who download it before December 31 can also win one of 10 iTunes gift cards from the free prize draw. Lookout Call sales and marketing Director John Wood said: “We are delighted that we can offer this world-class technology and peace of mind to students.

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The app will help students stay safe over the festive months

Pic: Lookout Call

“At Lookout Call we are keen to do all we can to help Kingston University students stay safe this year and have one less thing to worry about without compromising their independence.”

The handy app runs via the individual updating Lookout Call to show their whereabouts with a time-scale to notify the app how long they intend be at that location, triggerring a countdown.

What is The River?

commits us to raising and addressing the issues relevant to students and local people, as well as to entertain and inform them. We aim to celebrate the achievements of students and local people alike.

The River is written, edited and produced by journalism students at Kingston University. The views expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect those of the university. What we promise: The River aims to serve the university and the local area. Our mission statement

What we need from you: If you have information or a story which would interest our readers, please contact us.

The countdown can be stopped by the student entering their unique app pin. However, if the countdown is not stopped, the app automatically calls the student in order to prevent a false alarm from being triggered. If the alarm is still not deactivated, the app automatically alerts ‘responders’. These are the people who have been nominated by the student. The ‘responders’ will be notified, even if their phone has no battery, of the students’ location and they can then decide what action needs to be taken.

We aim to conform to the standard codes of conduct of 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 you have been misrepresented or that we have made a mistake, please get in touch. editors.river@gmail.com


NEWS

Watch out Batgirl! There’s a brand new superhero in town

December 9 - December 16 2011

3

The traditional Batgirl: More beauty than brains

Right: Sarah Zaidan’s drawing of Catherine Abigail Daniels Pic: Bat-Blog.com

By Joseph Longley K0944811 WHAM, POW, KAZAAM! It should not be very hard to beat Batgirl. After all, she is more beauty than brains. The portrayal of Batgirl in comics and films has prompted a KU lecturer to create a female hero, a role model for women.

Dr Will Brooker, director of research for film and television studies, said: “I see Batgirl as symptomatic of the limited and sexist way superhero comics tend to represent women - and the reason many women aren’t into superhero comics.” This has spurred him to create a new comic entitled My So-called Secret Identity. It will revolve

around the “averagely athletic, relatively attractive, and stunningly intelligent” Catherine Abigail Daniels, an Irish-American PhD student. Whilst researching his second book on Batman, Dr Brooker began thinking what a wasted character Batgirl was. He thought: How could a PhD student be used mostly as a source

of light entertainment. “It struck me that Batgirl could, and should, be like one of the young women we have in our PhD community at Kingston. She could be smarter than Batman,” said Dr Brooker. Sarah Zaidan, a former PhD student from Kingston who did her thesis on comics and masculinity, is the leading artists on the team.

Miss Zaidan said: “Gotham City and its heroes and villains are the reason I studied comics in the first place, so a project inspired by them is especially meaningful to me.” “This isn’t a comic about skintight spandex and fighting,” said Dr Brooker. My So-called Secret Identity will be released in five parts in the near future.

Saatchi star to exhibit new collection at the Stanley Picker Gallery By Isa Hemphrey K0933579 An artist who is currently featured in the Tate Modern and the Saatchi collection, is holding his latest exhibition at the Stanley Picker gallery this month. Kingston University fine art PhD student, Dan Hays, will be displaying his oil paintings, made up of thousands of coloured painted dots to represent pixilation as part of his Screen as Landscapes project.

“I hope that my paintings will change up close and from a distance,” said Mr Hays. “For me what is special about painting is the sense of distance of proximity that my paintings create.” Mr Hays said that some of the detailed paintings for the exhibition took him up to six months. “I’m using a projector but for a long time I used photographs or computer print outs and did my work square by square, which would take much longer” It explores the genre of the

landscape and how it is being threatened by the virtual and hi-tech world through the “BBC wildlife spectaculars, computer simulated Hollywood blockbusters, video games, or Google Earth”. “I see my paintings as flawed computer print outs. Flaws in the sense that they’re not perfect when you look at them close up,” said Mr Hays. Screen as Landscape will show from December 7 to December 17 2011.

A sample of Dan Hays’ exhibit

Pic: danhays.org

riveronline.co.uk


8

December 9 - December 16 2011

NEWS

Is your future in freelance?

The Shepherdess is a photograph of a group of Kingston University’s students’ haircutting ritual at Middle Mill halls of residence.

Pic: David Stewart

Students’ sheep shearing takes artist to top gallery By Jamila Soso-Vincent K0930066

Their hair might have ended up in the bin, but its removal took a photographer a cut above thousands of rivals for a top award from a London gallery. A photograph depicting the haircutting antics of Kingston University students at their “bin bag salon” is currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery. Fine art photographer David Stewart, impressed with how far the image of the students had taken him, said: “There may be more sittings for other Kingston teenagers yet.” Proud of his achievement, Mr Stewart said: “Lots of people get to see your work in the portrait gallery.” The portrait, entitled The Shepherdess, shows Luisa Crosbie, an illustration and animation student, cutting the hair of Sam Smith, who studies graphic design. Waiting their turns are Emile Mniszko and Francis North, also graphic design students, Alexander riveronline.co.uk

Hopkins, a fine art student, Michael Sacco, who completed foundation art at KU (now a visual communication student at The Glasgow School of Art), and illustration and animation student Jacob Read. Mr North, who has visited the exhibition, said that it was “great” seeing himself in the portrait gallery and that his friends and family were “really excited” about it. He said: “It almost looks like we’re in a cult... like we’re getting branded. “It’s a bit weird but I’m not madly fazed about it. “It’s good to get involved in those kinds of things.” Stewart said it was his daughter, Alice, also a KU student, who told him about the monthly hair-cutting ritual that took place at Middle Mill halls of residence. After attending one of the “rituals” in January, he ended up with the portrait, although it turned out differently from how he had originally intended. “When we saw the picture, we thought it looked like ... the woman

trimming the sheep,” he said. “She was rounding them up.” Mr Stewart was one of 60 entrants chosen out of 2,506 applicants to compete for the £12,000 first-place prize in the gallery’s annual Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. Noted for his surreal and often humorous portraits, the Lancaster-born photographer explained that The Shepherdess is part of a project that he is currently working on called Te e n a g e Preoccupation, which examines some of the unusual activities that young people indulge in. He also had some words of advice for students

who are pursuing a similar career path. “It’s important to have contact with the real world; try and get placements,” said Mr Stewart, who also works in advertising. “While you’re at college, use the best opportunities that you can to find out more before you leave.” In 2007, Mr Stewart was nominated for his photograph Alice and Fish in the portrait awards. In 2001, his collection Fogeys won a silver award at the Art Directors Club of New York and in 1995, a short film he directed to accompany his first photographic collection Cabbage was nominated for a BAFTA.

The photographer, David Stewart

Future graduates are more likely to find themselves working on their living room floor or at the corner cafe than a grey office cubicle, a Kingston University study has found. The number of freelance workers in the UK has increased by 12 per cent, according to the study, which was carried out in conjunction with Professional Contractors Group, a professional body representing freelancers. The most popular jobs with freelancers are in the artistic, literary and media sectors, where almost 300,000 people are self-employed. The most significant increase has occurred since 2008, the year the current financial crisis started, showing that people have been forced to take their careers into their own hands. There are now 1.56 million freelancers in the UK, equivalent to five per cent of the overall workforce. The findings come after National Freelance Day, which was on November 23.

KU creative writing grad wins major competition A KU creative writing MA graduate has scooped a £23,000 prize and a major literary achievement in her native Norway. Ida Loekaas, 26, won the prize for her debut novel, The Beauty that Flows Past, which is about a boy growing up on a London council estate and will be published next autumn. “My time at Kingston definitely helped me on the way to being published,” said Miss Loekaas. “I was privileged to work with talented and inspiring people, who both encouraged and guided me in the process.” The dissertation Miss Loekaas wrote for her masters at KU ended up forming the first half of her winning novel. Ingvar Ambjørnsen, an author on the judging panel, said: “A beautiful novel. It’s a great thrill to discover a new talent of this dimension.”


NEWS

December 9 - December 16 2011

9

Kingston talks about Kevin By Emma Hooper K0917309 A Kingston law graduate has swapped the barristers’ chambers for the film studios and made a huge success with his first feature film in “the wisest investment he’s ever made”. Leslie Thomas, 38, invested and helped to produce the Award winning blockbuster, We Need to Talk About Kevin. “I keep pinching myself and wondering when am I going to wake up,” he said. “I am just an ordinary boy from South-west London. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be involved in a film as big as this.” Leslie Thomas graduated from Kingston in 1988 and spent 21 years at the Bar before taking the career break to invest in his first film. The thriller, starring Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton star, won the top prize at the London Film Festival and second prize at the Cannes Film Festival and has now been released in the UK. The film sheds light on the feel-

British Oscar-winng actress Tilda Swinton stars in the critically acclaimed We need to talk about Kevin

ings of responsibility and grief of a mother whose teenage son went on a killing spree. Leslie is a specialist in human rights and a successful barrister at

London’s Garden Court Chambers. “I had been working so hard for all those years as a barrister,” he said. While taking his sabbatical, Leslie’s financial adviser suggested in-

Pic: Filmoria

vesting in the film industry. Leslie met with London film company Piccadilly to read through scripts. “When I read Kevin I immediate-

KU graphic design students show the

professionals exactly how it’s done By Natasha Szymaniak K0901977 When the official Olympic and Paralympics posters were unveiled last month, not everyone was impressed. Third year graphic design and photography students at Kingston University were not pleased with the results and created alternative posters. Patrick Burgoyne, editor of Creative Review magazine and a guest lecturer at Kingston, set graphic design and photography students the task to produce better posters. He said: “I felt that the problem with the official posters was that the choices of artists were so dull. People like Tracey Emin are still portrayed as being ‘edgy’ but really, the likes of her and Rachel Whiteread, are very much the establishment now.” With only a week to make their own designs under the same brief as the celebrity artists, students were asked “for a personal response to the idea of the London

KU graphic design and photography students attempts at designing better Olympic posters

Olympics and the intersection between art and sport”. The students designs were featured in the Creative Blog, the blog site for Creative Review magazine, which over its 20 years of production has subscribers in over 80 countries and readers online in over 120 countries. Burgoyne said: “I think some of the ideas are fantastic, every bit as

conceptually interesting as the official ones, if not more so. I also really enjoyed the ones in which the students were critical of the Olympic project, raising doubts about the idea that it will be great for London and querying its commercialisation.” Course director, Rebecca Wright said: “The student responses reflect the range of mixed emotions

many Londoners feel about the Olympics, the chance for celebration, concerns about overcrowding, the excitement of expectation and fears.” Scan this QR code to see the full poster gallary online.

ly realised the film would be a hit,” he added. “It turns out it was the wisest investment I’ve ever made.” Despite little film knowledge, Leslie was greatly involved with the production and plans to work as a film executive alongside his job as a barrister. “I am already lined up to look at a load of scripts for next year,” he said. Leslie said the gripping script and lead actress’ performance should take credit for the films success and predicts Swinton will be nominated for best actress at the BAFTAs. Dr Penny Darbyshire, a Kingston law lecturer, taught Leslie at undergraduate level. She said: “Leslie’s astonishing success provides an inspiring example to Kingston students who, like him, come from less privileged backgrounds. As an undergraduate he came to appreciate that achievement was directly proportional to the efforts he made and his background did not need to be a barrier to his success. Leslie is exceptionally hard-working and is a dedicated self-improver - he’s a model to us all.”

KU safe space for disabled students By Rosie Williams K0906448 Kingston students with disabilities and mental health issues now have somewhere to turn to since the creation of the Safe Space society. Third year student Gabrielle Ferro, 21, who has severe dyslexia with elements of dyspraxia and depression, decided to set up the society to create more awareness and generate support for students with disabilities. “There are 1,900 registered disabled students at Kingston, many of who have not been ‘needs tested’,” said Miss Ferro, who studies English literature and film. “Those students must be really struggling. I would not have made it in to my third year without their support.” Needs testing is when students with disabilities at university are assessed and provided with financial support or equipment, such as voicerecorders for the partially deaf. Jamie Pipkin, the student union disabilities officer and secretary of the society, said: “Safe Space Society’s aim is to provide a space each week for people to simply meet up over a cuppa and have a chat and socialise in a relaxed environment.” riveronline.co.uk


10

December 9 - December 16 2011

NEWS

Former student dies in bike accident By Rosie Williams and Fabiola Buchele A former Kingston student has died in a collision with a lorry while cycling through central London last Friday. Eleanor Carey, 22, from Guernsey, completed her art foundation year in Kingston in 2008. Eleanor’s tutor at Kingston, Penny Glidewell, thought highly of the young artist. She said: “She was a very good student, very sociable and very well liked. “Her confidence really grew as the year went on. She produced an inspiring final show and we all thought she had a bright future.” The incident occurred at 10am on Abbey Street, Southwark, on December 2. The location is known as an accident black-spot. A 31-year-old man was arrested at the scene, but he has been released on bail until January 24 next year. A spokeswoman for the London Ambulance Service said: “A woman in her 20s was found dead at the scene and a man was treated for shock but it is not known if this

Eleanor died at a known accident black-spot while cycling in central London

was the lorry driver.” A spokesman from the London Cycling Campaign, who tries to make the capital a better place for cyclists, said: “We are calling on the Mayor of London to declare a

zero-tolerance policy towards road deaths. London needs a long-term strategy to install continentalstandard bike lanes on busy roads to make them safe for cyclists.” Mark Gettleson, the liberal dem-

Pic: Facebook

ocrat councillor for Grainsward, where the incident took place, has called on Transport For London to implement more safety measures on Abbey Street. He said: “It is patently obvious

that it is a dangerous junction.” Eleanor had been volunteering at Bridge 2 Sri Lanka in Guernsey while on her holidays from university. Sarah Griffiths, the founder of the charity, said: “She was such a kind and sweet girl, that you could not help but fall under her spell.” The head of the Kingston art foundation course, Paul Stafford, said: “Eleanor stood out as someone who had real talent.” He travelled to the island of Guernsey, over 200 miles away from London, to interview Eleanor when she applied. Eleanor is the second Kingston University cyclist to die from a fatal road accident in the last two years. Jayne Helliwell, 26, who graduated with an illustration and animation degree was crushed by a double-decker bus while cycling on Oxford Street on April 14, 2010. The River reported that the bus driver involved in the incident had been acquitted. A memorial will be held at the location of the incident on December 14.

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NEWS

December 9 - December 16 2011

11

Workaholics struggle to keep a happy home By Isa Hemphrey K0933579

Work hard? Take a break!

Pic: Rex

Students who thought they could work tirelessly to pay off their loan and still keep a happy home could be in for a shock. According to a new study from Kingston University’s Business School, being a workaholic nowadays does not compensate for a miserable life at home. The study collected information from over 10,000 people in 30 European countries and found a link between job and life satisfaction,

especially for the main bread winners in the household. “The life and the work domains are definitely clearly correlated. Happiness at home affects your job and vice versa,” said Professor Yannis Georgellis from Kingston Business School, coauthor of the study. “Although there is a clear ‘spill over’ effect from one area of life to the other, there is no evidence that people who are very unhappy at home will feel ‘compensated’ by work in any way.” However the results of the study, which were published in the British Journal of Management (BJM), found that there was a stronger link

Your Letters & Tweets River advert causes anger Dear River, Everyone loves a night out with friends. For many this will consist of drinks in the town centre, some pranks and a few hilarious moments. We are lucky enough to live in a town that is leafy, green and has a certain charm, along with the second largest night time economy in London outside the West End. The name of the town, Kingston upon Thames, gives a clue to one of the most dangerous features of Kingston: The Thames. Last April a friend of mine made the mistake of drunkenly getting into the River and trying to swim from one side to the other. He had drunk far too much and made the biggest mistake he could. One that would cost him his life. It took days before the police found him by Kingston Bridge. He died leaving his friends and family mourning the loss of a very special and very talented 21 year old. During the summer the Thames may seem inviting, but it is cold and dangerous and could take your life! Every year the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Metropolitan Police and Port of London Authority deal with tragic drownings. Thirty seven swimmers got into difficulty in the river during 2010 – well over twice that of previous years. If I can implore you to do anything it is this. Think twice before you do this. Think about leaving your friends and family behind and the heartache it could cause. Think about the emergency services that may have to risk their lives trying to save you. Think about your future… and don’t drink and drown. Chris Dingle SU President

Dear River, Along with many members of Staff at the University, I read “The River”. I’ve even been mentioned in it a few times, typically in relation to fire evacuations. My interest is in the safety of everyone who works here, whatever they do. I was shocked to see the picture you carried on page 5 of your issue number 50 (November 25 - December 9) which I felt was wholly inappropriate and conveyed a suggestion to your readers that it’s OK to jump in the River Thames – the picture showed six young people doing so. My discomfort here was increased by the fact you carried the picture alongside the story of the tragic death of Laurene-Daniel Jackson in a Northamptonshire night club. Yet earlier in the year you reported, and provided a moving and fitting tribute to Niall Pawsey, a Business and Law student who had died, drowned in the Thames while reportedly trying to swim it following a night out, probably having had too much to drink. Health and Safety is my business. It’s often in the news for all the wrong reasons – people use it as a justification not to do various activities, but the whole thrust of what we aim to do is manage risks. There’s no comparison between the hazards in a game of conkers as opposed to walking across an unfenced roof – or swimming the Thames. One’s a minor incident, the other, should it go wrong, is near certain death. I appreciate using the picture was a way of encouraging discussion among the readership, but just doing what’s shown in the picture may somehow convey the message it’s all right to do so, or that we’re encouraging it. Wrong. In my view it was an unsuitable photograph to carry. Further, it was in an inappropriate and wholly unsuitable location, being on the same page as a major piece about the loss of a young life. I don’t wish to imagine the shock and hurt caused if you’re a family member or were a friend of Niall’s and you open pages 4 and 5 of issue 50. The River exists to provide experience of running a newspaper. In this case, I hope the experience gained will encourage much more thought and will stop anything similar happening again. The press will be suitably straitened

through the Leveson enquiry, and I hope something similar will happen here albeit at a much smaller scale. From my side, I’d implore the readers of the River not to underestimate the hazards “The River” can produce – metaphorically and, in this case physically. My message is simple: please don’t try to swim the Thames, however warm the weather or inviting it looks. Ian Appleford University Occupational Health and Safety Manager Dear River, I was very saddened and troubled to see the advert headed “Don’t Stand By the Riverside – Jump In” on page 5 of your current edition (25/11 -9/12). Surely you recall that only a few months ago one of our students drowned trying to swim across the Thames near Kingston Bridge? The problem is compounded by the image which shows a group of people jumping into a stretch of water remarkably similar to that at which the tragedy occurred. To make matters worse the advert is opposite your tribute to another Kingston student who died recently in a very different accident. It’s clear that the advert was intended with the best of purposes – to encourage involvement with the paper - but equally clear that there were mistakes in how this was presented and these mistakes need to be rectified. KUSU have been running a campaign warning of the dangers of river bathing. I trust that you are going to change this advertising campaign and will be printing a retraction with a clear message about river safety.

between careers and personal lives in Eastern European countries such as Croatia, Hungary and Romania. “The majority of people in countries with more traditional values report that work is extremely important in their lives,” Professor Georgellis added. “This is not always the case for individuals in more modern, less traditional countries who view work only as a small part of their daily life and identity,” This link has also found to be much stronger among single men and women, rather than married couples according to the study.

Student Affairs clarification Dear River, In response to the article ‘Jail Cut for KU looter’ (The River, Issue 50, page 8) we would like to clarify the University procedure with regards to students who have been convicted of a crime. Your article states that Kingston University student Pierre Wilkinson was allowed to stay at Kingston because he was only sentenced to four months in prison and, had he received a longer sentence, he would have risked being kicked out ‘due to the University’s strict policy on crime’. In fact, the University’s procedure is that any student sentenced to more than 21 days in prison is automatically withdrawn from the University, which was

the case with the student concerned. In these circumstances students may appeal to the Vice-Chancellor for permission to be readmitted to the University. Mr Wilkinson did this and the ViceChancellor has given his consent for him to return to the University. The article ends by stating that the Student Affairs department refused to comment on the case. This is incorrect. A River journalist contacted the Student Affairs Office on 22 November requesting information and was directed to contact the Press Office as per the agreed guidelines. There is no record that the Press Office were contacted regarding this. Student Affairs

Readers react to escort story Wow interesting stories and hope whoever Elle is keeps her job that isn’t risky and she wouldn’t be ashamed to tell her family and friends about :) Jessie Stevens, Fork Washington, United States What a pathetic glorification of selling yourself for sex, spin the words anyway you like, it is what it is, selling sex. Darryl Crumpton, London, United Kingdom Good for her! Oldest profession in the book. Nataljia Harbinson

@RiverNewspaper was on the ground at the November 30 protest against cuts in Kingston and central London. You tweeted in to tell us what you thought of the coverage.

Rev. Stan Brown Kingston University Ecumenical Chaplain Editor says: We’re not going to try and justify our online advertisement, we are simply apologising for any offence we may have caused, in light of the death of law student Niall Pawsey last April. The advertisement in question was a play on words with no malice intended and The River fully supports any campaign to ensure the safety of students.

riveronline.co.uk


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December 9 - December 16 2011

COMMENT

Comment

Much ado about muff-ing

Are The Only Way Is Essex girls and their obsession with vajazzles to blame for women’s lack of natural muff confidence?

Pic: Rex

The fashion police and the porn industry have got into women’s knickers. Hayley Simpson comments on the alarming rise in genital cosmetic surgery

I

love my muff. Yes, you read that right. I love my lady garden and I’m not ashamed to admit it. In fact, I love it so much that on December 10 I’m going on a Muff March with hundreds of women to celebrate what lies beneath. It shocks me to find out that not all ladies are as enamoured with their vag-jay-jay’s as I am. British women’s natural genital confidence is at an all time low and

Brazilians, Hollywoods and Vajazzling are just some of the ways we are spending a fortune trying to boost it. But when and why did we become so obsessed with how we look ‘down there’? Most women don’t often get together to compare their anatomy, but if we did we would see that they share little resemblance to the bleached, pimped and pre-pubescent like ‘shaven havens’ displayed

in top shelf magazines and porn films. I believe our preoccupation with our nether regions has paved the way for something more sinister: The Designer Vagina. A study published in August last year showed that female genital surgery has increased five fold in the last ten years. Last year alone, over 2,000 women had surgery on their ladyparts through the NHS and thousands more are believed to have sought treatment privately.

“It is the western equivalent of genital mutilation - pointless and painful”

The River reporters show off their muff pride

Pic: Natasha Szymaniak

Most of these procedures are purely cosmetic, with no medical reason. So what is genital surgery and why are some women desperate to have it?

I’ll spare you the gory details and simply say that in 2010 The Harley Medical Group received 5,000 enquires for genital surgery. Sixty five were for ‘reductions’, and the rest for ‘tightening’ and ‘reshaping’. Surely, even in a world where plastic surgery is no great taboo, this is one nip and tuck too far? According to the Harley Medical Group, one of the “benefits” of having vaginal reshaping or tightening is the “ability to wear jeans”. “What?” I hear you cry, “jeans?” Yes, that’s right. Those pesky plastic surgeons on Harley Street are profiting from women’s insecurities, and in this case, just making them up along the way. This is not just a feminist excuse for a rant. This is serious and threatening to the health and wellbeing

of all women. It is the western equivalent of genital mutilation - pointless and painful. I understand that some women who go through with this surgery must be desperately unhappy. But why are plastic surgeons making money from women’s body-hatred when it should be society’s responsibility to boost their confidence? We think of our society as one that celebrates diversity so I think it is time we encourage the different shapes and sizes found inside our knickers and I’m making it my mission to drum up some much needed muff love around Kingston. Join The River reporters at the Muff March or follow their live tweets online @RiverNewspaper When: 11.30am 10 December Where: Harley Street, London riveronline.co.uk


13

December 9 - December 16 2011

COMMENT

Picket line lectures

The Public Sector cuts are both expensive and painful for many. However, with the Government seemingly refusing to budge, should lecturers to go on strike to protect their interests at the expense of lectures and seminars already paid for by students? A River reporter and a Kingston lecturer debate

Numerous lecture theatres were left empty and classes got cancelled during the pension stike on Wednesday November 3 as Kingston lecturers joined public sector workers and trade unionists in their protest against pension cuts.

‘It’s a waste of time’

F

Tom Ward thinks

irst off, let me say that I do not sector strike or the student demos and all condone the Public Sector cuts, and you get is an echoed rant about how we had that I wholeheartedly support peoples to bail out the banks, with nobody suggestright to protest - when it might make even ing a single alternative as to what the Govan iota of difference. ernment could have done instead. Unfortunately, November 30th never was So here’s a news flash. There was nothing going to make any difference. I know this they have done instead. What did you really because I was told by the leaders of all three expect, that we would let every bank in the major political parties, including Labour. U.K crumble under its own greed, laugh and It’s an often frustrating but inescapable fact say “we told you so” and then go back to of government and politics that sometimes buying our local groceries - with rocks? the people we elect make Then what happens when decisions on behalf of us the NHS has to purchase “Stop trying to that are not necessarily in foreign medicine in order to our own best interests at change yesterday, combat a new strain of bird the time. They do this to flu? No money for that. Oh start trying to keep a country of around look, Grandma’s dead. change tomorrow” Students (the MP’s of tomor62,000,000 people just about on its feet. row, some would say) and Any economist will tell lecturers should not be on you it’s not about how much money you the streets moaning about how bad we’ve have, it’s about the value of that money. We got it now. This is the perfect time to get in are just pulling ourselves out of the worst the classrooms, on the social networks and depression since the 1930s and it took into the lecture halls and start working out World War Two to get us past that one. how we’re going to make Britain stronger in The protests are not providing practical the wake of this slow, but steady, economic alternatives. If people were getting together upturn. Maybe we could start implementing and producing a plan that not only stabilizes ideas such as, I don’t know, an increase in the economy but also left the pensions plan public sector pensions in 2016? Stop trying untouched then I would be 100% behind it. to change yesterday, start trying to change But turn up at Occupy LSX, the public tomorrrow.

Pic: Google

‘We’re saving our uni’

Dr Simon Choat believes

L

ecturers don’t enjoy cancelling show that the costs of pensions are relativeclasses and going on strike: It’s ly stable. If public finances are in a mess, something we’ll only do as a last it’s not because nurses and teachers get a resort. We know that it’s frustrating when modest pension when they retire: it’s beseminars and lectures are cancelled. How- cause we spent more than £1trillion bailing ever, many students joined us on the picket out the banks. lines last Wednesday and we’re asking all We think that the real reason the students to support us. Government wants pension reform is The trade unions called the strike be- because private companies don’t want to cause of changes to our pensions. The Gov- pay decent pensions to their workers, and ernment claims that they want to ‘reform’ if the Government gets its way then it’ll public sector pensions: be private companies What they actually mean is who will be running our “Many students that they want workers to universities. pay more, work longer, and It’s not just that these joined us on the get less. If the Government’s changes would fail to picket lines last plans go through, then it’s save any money and are Wednesday” estimated that lecturers will deeply undemocratic. lose thousands and thouThe Government’s prosands of pounds over the posals are designed to course of their career. benefit those at the top. Universities like The average pension is already only Kingston will lose out. £5,000 a year, and it’ll be even lower if We don’t want to have to teach student the Government gets its way. The real pen- ‘consumers’ who have to pay £9,000 a year sions divide is between a tiny elite of very in fees. rich people and the rest of us. The average Most of us became lecturers because we pension of a director of a big company is believe that education is both £175,000 per year. a public good and an indiThe Government claims that our pen- vidual right and should be sions need reforming because the country available to all regardless of can no longer afford them. But the figures ability to pay.

riveronline.co.uk This discussion isn’t over. Scan the QR code to join in online and let us know which side of the argument you’re on


14

December 9 - December 16 2011

COMMENT

River

Get off your high horse

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be, For loan oft loses both itself and friend” (Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3) Shakespeare had it right when he penned that one. If only the good folks at Kingston University had listened to him before plunging a desperately needed £300,000 into the rapidly ailing business of the Rose Theatre. A huge investment considering that aside from hosting the occasional graduation, the benefits of investing in the Rose have been minimal. Many promises were made when the theatre was opened in 2008. Drama students were to have practically autonomous acccess, plays developed by the University were to be performed to the public and our percentage ownership was supposed to start paying for itself in a matter of years. Instead, students are lucky to see the inside of the Rose without paying for a ticket, and stars like Dame Judi Dench and Joely Richardson gracing the stage have not been enough to keep the theatre out of the red. The withdrawal of funds by Kingston Council in January was just another nail in the coffin. The Rose is not a bad establishment. Many of the featured plays are excellent. However, Kingston simply does not seem to be a big enough draw compared with the West End. Many students and staff are infuriated by the University’s contentment to throw money at what appears to be a sinking ship when we are all suffering from vicious Government cuts.

By Nadine Ramsberg K0900501

The

says

Question MARK Questions about university life? Worried about navigating the campus? Got queries about student finances? Perennial retaker Mark will be here every issue of The River to answer all of the above and explain life, the universe and everything. The man with all the answers, Mark has been trawling Kingston University campuses since before smartphones.

Contact Mark at askmark.river@gmail.com riveronline.co.uk

London has become the number one consumer of Ketamine, it is time to end that party

L

ast weekend I was approached in a Kingston nightclub toilet by a 20-something girl wondering if I had “got any K?” I could feel her disappointment as I mumbled “no, sorry”, and escaped into the booth. Britain is widely regarded as the drug capital of Europe. We’ve moved away from the LSD hippy psychedelia, the 80s’ amphetamine high and from the ecstasy-overflow of the 90s. Today, ketamine is the ‘it’ drug. Statistics show a rise in the use of ketamine among young people. In 2009, 68 per cent of all clubbers had tried ketamine, an alarming rise from the 25 per cent in 2001. The most recent British Crime Survey also reported that the number of 16 to 24-year-olds who have tried K in the past four years has doubled. With its escalating popularity, the powder has earned its status as the new ecstasy. After a year behind the bar of a popular Kingston nightclub, I’m not surprised. I’ve chatted with the local dealers, seen 18-year-olds in a scary trance on the dance floor and watched girls being escorted out by bouncers after snorting drugs in the ladies’. I’m staying as far away from the drug scene as physically possible.

For some Kingston party goers alcohol just is not enough to have fun and they turn to Ketamine for a high time

Pic: Rex

Personally, I am not only frightened by the thought of exposing my brain and my body to this poison, but I find it unbelievable that alcohol is not enough of a remedy for a good night out. Clubbers today apparently need to take ketamine, a form of horse tranquillizer, to have a good time. The difference is, as opposed to drinkers, K users don’t just wake up with a hangover, but potentially also a urinary catheter. K causes severe, often irreparable, damage to the bladder. The drug has also been proved to cause

depression and cause psychological trauma. Some argue that a night out on the high can even cost you your information processing abilities and your memory. You may argue that alcohol is just another type of toxin, but - call me a prude - at least it’s legal.

Besides, I do not see why good old Vodka is not fun enough for some. Invite along your good mates

Jose Cuervo, Jack Daniel and Captain Morgan, and I believe you’ve got yourself a party. So how has this dangerous substance become the new zeitgeist drug? What makes it attractive to so many? With rising tuition fees, a job market tougher than ever and an uncertain future, does the tranquillising K work as an anaesthetic for life? It allegedly sends you far away from earthly concerns, to a distant mental horizon. If you ask me, my life seems pretty worry free after half a bottle of Pinot.

We want to get a pet for our student house. Should we? Maria Wilbert, 19

Not just cats and dogs either. Parrots, iguanas, rats, you name it. Some Kingston students have gone to Sainsbury’s and come back with a big smile on their face and a new addition to the household that they spontaneously liberated from the pet shop on the way home. Unfortunately, these pets usually

find their way back to the shop after they have defecated everywhere for a few weeks and the price of pet food is discovered. But not before they have been bestowed with some excellent names from their would-be parents, such as Quim, Justin Dweeber, or my personal favourite, Katamine.

He’d come down at three in the morning when we’d be bringing people back from the club and just sit there, playing Bob Dylan songs on his guitar. Very distracting when you were trying to pull. The only way to beat a music bully is to be a bigger bully. Get in the house first, have an album

primed and ready, and if your mate tries to put something on tell him you have got another few tracks he simply has to hear. Make sure you put something the majority will like on, so you don’t have everyone trying to kick you off it. You know, like Slayer.

I know many students who have at least thought about getting pets for their house. Amazing really, considering how most of us can barely keep ourselves alive. My friend makes me listen to crap dubstep tracks. How do I make him stop? Jeremy Lingword, 20 I used to have a similar problem with an old housemate of mine. Colombian fella, barely spoke a word of English.

“I don’t see why good old Vodka is not fun enough for some”


December 9 - December 16 2011

FEATURES

15

Mandy and me

Drugs such as ketamin, marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy make millions for dealers on city streets.

Pic: Rex

Tom Ward speaks to the Kingston graduate who made £800,000 in two years dealing drugs for cash

W

hen the doorbell rang at 3am in Pablo’s home in Kingston, he started having second thoughts about his future in the drugs trade. It was the same long-haired, drug-addled student who had picked up a load of ketamine from his housemate George 40 minutes earlier. Pablo had heard him Hoover up a bump before he left the house and he had been back twice since, wide-eyed and jumpy, to ask for directions back to the party he’d just left. Shaking his head, Pablo repeated the directions yet again and closed the door. Walking through the lounge, he passed a couple of dozing stoners crashing on the couches, up the stairs and past the bedrooms of his partners in crime. There was George, who sold ketamine and some MDMA, and Howard*, who sold cocaine. Walking into his room, he removed the fake bottom from his fireplace and began to count the day’s takings. The money was good, but the shine was starting to come off the house of fun. It was very different when they had first started dabbling in the trade. “We lived together from July 2007 to July 2009, and during that time a lot of drugs, and people, went through the house,” Pablo recalls.

“I had a friend on a couch in my room for about four months. It was great fun, and it was very messy, there were a lot of great parties. There’s definitely a lot of blurry moments in my mind from back then.” Looking at Pablo now, it would be hard to pin him as a drug dealer - let alone one who made around £1m in drugs during the five years he was dealing, an estimated £800,000 profit-making in Kingston alone. But, as he puts it, “just because you’re doing something illegal, it doesn’t mean you can’t be nice about it,” he says, recalling a “surreal” costume party for his birthday. “We had partygoers sliding down the stairs front ways, almost braining themselves on the radiator. Anyone who made it got a free line of ketamine we’d laid out.

“Sold at £40 a gramme, you could make a profit of around £4,500 on the Mandy alone.” “I could go downstairs for a cup of tea at nine in the morning most days and quite probably find a group of people in fancy dress or wearing stupid hats asleep in the lounge, with two or three people still at it.” Pablo’s connection was a for-

mer schoolmate who sold him weed, and went on to become a civil servant. He was also making thousands of pounds selling kilos of marijuana, MDMA and cocaine to trusted dealers like Pablo. When he was first contacted, Pablo saw it as nothing more than an opportunity to hook up with some friends, make some spare cash and have a few cheap nights out on the town. It soon spiralled out of control and Pablo was even able to get drugs on consignment. “I would pick up every week in the summer that I could. People would buy loads more in the summer. I would normally get half a kilo of weed, for which you’d pay anywhere between £1,800 and £2,100, so it was a big investment. “A bar of MDMA (9 ounces) would cost me around £2,250. Sold at £40 a gramme, you could make a profit of around £4,500 on the Mandy alone.” As business and profit increased, so did the danger of exposure. Pablo’s phone was now ringing off the hook daily. He had to change his “business” phone regularly and his personal phone was also starting to get “ping-ed” despite his best efforts. “Friends had told friends. Sometimes I would get paranoid around then. I’d smoke a joint, go to bed, and snap awake thinking that I’m lying with my head next to a mini-

mum three-year jail sentence.” The realities became even starker when Pablo’s civil servant asked him if he would take part in a highpaying drug run from Southampton to Central London. Pablo declined after his immediate family’s home addresses were demanded as collateral in case the drugs went missing.

“I had a lot of fun at times over those years, but after a while you find yourself yearning for a normal life.” The most terrifying moment came when Pablo was woken up in the early hours of the morning by his housemate, Alan, who told him that a large group of police were quietly gathering outside. Pablo recalled his heart sinking as he saw the cars amassed on their road. Soon everyone in the house was hiding every incriminating thing they could, a tall order, given that it was the middle of the festival season. “We put Dave in the bathroom, standing over the toilet with about 3,000 pills, an ounce of coke, liquid ketamine, God knows how much MDMA and a giant bag of weed,” Pablo recalls. “I remember looking at it all and thinking that when they

came in we would never be able to get it all down the toilet in time.” Trapped between a prison sentence and expensive debt to dangerous people, he and his housemates waited with baited breath as the police finally made their move - to a house three doors down. “I just remember thinking ‘thank God’,” said Pablo. “Me, George and Howard had agreed that we’d each take the rap for whatever we sold the most of. There was so much in the bathroom that we’d each have gone to prison for years.” Shortly after the heart-stopping run-in with the police, Pablo decided to gather up what money he had saved and go travelling. Since his return, he’s left the game alone - and would advise others to do the same. “I had a lot of fun at times over those years, but after a while you kind of find yourself yearning for a normal life. You start to lose connection with some of your friends when the lines begin to blur between friend and dealer. “There are probably quite a few broke students out there at the moment with the connections to start dealing who might be considering making some quick cash. My advice is, don’t do it. The potential costs far outweigh the potential benefits, and there are a lot of things out there much more important than quick cash.” riveronline.co.uk


16

December 9 - December 16 2011

FEATURES

Drinking your dinner Francesca Griffin and Rebecca Louise Coles investigate the dangerous trend that’s growing among girls who deliberately skip dinner before a night out drinking in order keep trim

O

ne in five of us are skipping meals to save calories for binge drinking sessions according to a survey among Kingston University students. Young women, in particular, are faced with the conflicting pressures of social drinking and staying slim. A 21-year-old business student said “When I go out with my friends, I want to look as good as them, no one wants to be the fattest one. Being tagged in photos on Facebook means you can really compare yourself to other girls. So I decided I would stop having dinner before I went out. I used to be hungry but, to me, feeling more confident in my dress was worth it.” Alarmingly, this student’s story is representative of the drinking habits of many students. This phenomenon of skipping meals in exchange for alcohol has been widely identified in many American universities, but The River’s investigation revealed it is also seemingly quite an undetected problem among UK students. Dieticians coined the term ‘drunkorexia’ as they believe that there is a link between binge drinking and eating disorders. They argue that it shows the unhealthy, deteriorating relationship we have towards food and calories. Although an overwhelming 86 per cent of those surveyed thought that not eating before drinking was dangerous, the need to be slim was a far greater concern. The majority of female students we spoke to had the same, worrying, attitude. A 23-year-old design student said: “There is a huge pressure to go out, get drunk and have a good time, it’s a way of fitting in at university. “But at the same time staying skinny is also a concern.” Dr Chris Easton, a senior health lecturer at Kingston University, explained that eating a meal before drinking alcohol is essential. He warned that those who deliberately don’t eat before going out are risking serious health consequences. “Drinking on an empty stomach will increase the likelihood of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), leading to traumatic brain injuries such as blackouts. There is an increased risk of nutritional deficits and damage to organs such as the stomach and liver,” he said. This toxic combination of starving and binge drinking is putting people at risk of developing more

NHS Nutritionist Philly Crosbie gives us her top tips on how to line your stomach Pasta - Carbs help neutralise any excess stomach acid

Ice Cream - Dairy helps line your

stomach and neutralise excess acid

Pizza - Bread and cheese are great for absorbing alcohol

serious eating disorders and alcohol abuse problems, as well as the danger of alcohol poising, chronic diseases and risky sexual behaviour. Student, Emily Clark, 21, regularly attends the sport social events and knows, only too well, the out of character sexual behaviour that can occur due to excess alcohol. She said “Me and a friend were walking back from town really drunk, as it had been an unplanned night, which means straight from work and no dinner. We were talking to these boys and my friend decided to invite them back. “I fell asleep on the sofa as soon as we got home but I was woken up to my friend stark naked on the other sofa having a threesome with the two strangers! “She would never usually do anything like that and has felt nothing but regret about the whole thing ever since.” Leanne Poole, 20, studies law and criminology and is a self confessed ‘drunkorexic’. Although she admits that she is aware of how dangerous her habit is, she still chooses not to eat before going out. “I want to have a flat tummy and not look like a bowling ball in a small dress”. She also says it saves her money as she gets drunker, quicker. But her irresponsible antics have meant she has ended up in many a compromising situation and even had to spend the night in hospital. “The most outrageous night I can remember was at McClusky’s nightclub. I planned to go out with no dinner and I drank a whole bottle of wine and some vodka shots before I even left the house. I had ridiculously high heels on and after we decided to leave the club I was messing around with the girls and went to tackle my friend. I misjudged the gap between us and

smashed my head on the pavement. I was laying on the floor for about 3 or 4 minutes. When I was finally able to get up, a lump the size of a golf ball had appeared on my head and I felt so sick and dizzy. My friend called the NHS helpline and I was rushed into hospital.” A recent survey showed that 57% of students said that they thought their alcohol intake had no impact on their university work, and just over 30 per cent saying they had never even thought about the impact it would

have on their studies. Dr Easton cautions that: “Alcohol can kill brain cells that are used to store memories and are responsible for future learning and cognitive abilities. The increased toxicity from drinking on an empty stomach is likely to worsen these effects.”

Pic: Joyce See

riveronline.co.uk


December 9 - December 16 2011

FEATURES

17

All that glitters isn’t cold

Worried about staying warm without melting into fashion boredom? Let The River’s Emma Hooper show you how to beat the cold and stay glamorous this winter season

I

f Christmas isn’t the time to shine, when is? A blend of shimmering pieces, consisting of sequins and glitter are all you need for festive fun, with dark accessories to inject some attitude. But if you’re not into the sparkle, feathers are also a chic alternative for getting noticed this Christmas. The variety also means you don’t have to work the feather trend full on. The femininity of feathers is appearing all over the high street on jewellery, clutch bags, hair pieces and even shoes. Feathers look like they could be sticking around for Spring/Summer 2012. Alexander M c Q u e e n and Dolce and Gabbana

have already showcased feathers at their latest shows, so don’t be afraid to invest in some feathery fashion. This season’s winter trends are borrowed from 1920’s style with feathered features, sequinned skirts and smart suits. 1920’s female fashion was very flamboyant, smart but sexy, to show how powerful women had become after being given the vote. War was finally over, art and creative expression were alive again and with it came a new era of fashion. Men often wore double breasted sports jackets and suits with two or three buttons. Trousers were worn at the natural waistline, often with cuffs at the end. As

an accessory, men would wear pocket watches chained to their vests and a smart bowler hat to complete their look. Men can make an entrance in a mixture of smart separates or a suit in rich tones of burgundy, grey and black. Special touches including subtle glitter trims, contrast collars or high shine finishes ensure you’re the best dressed at any festive do during the party period. There are ways to achieve the look without spending all your Christmas money, The River have put together some easy DIY Christmas chic pieces for you to recycle and create from last season’s wardrobe.

For The Boys

Colour and shimmer took centre stage on the catwalks this season

Pics: Rex

For The Girls

• Ask older male relatives for a bowler hat or flat cap they have lying around in their wardrobe as an early Christmas present, vintage and priceless.

• Sticking feathers carefully onto the shoulders of a black jumper to add a padded, more festive feel.

• Line an old fitted blazer with a thin line of dark purple felt on the edge of the outer breast folds or stick yourself a subtle glitter border.

• Using a thick dark coloured ribbon in place of a necklace, tied into a pretty bow.

• Shine a pair of shoes and cover them with in patent gloss bought cheap from a fabric shop.

Patent shoes - £35 River Island Jumper - ASOS £12

• Decorating a basic hair piece with anything that sparkles, glitter and sequins make any accessory pop. Scan the QR code to get the latest fashion Sequinned Dress - £18 inspiration from The ASOS River’s Kingston Street Wear blog

Feather bag - £25 ASOS

riveronline.co.uk


18

December 9 - December 16 2011

FEATURES

Behind the veil

It is surrounded by controversy, protests and even a ban in France. Two women speak to Mashaal Mir about why they choose to wear the Niqab

A

t a time where women are embracing their curves and looking sexy in the name of empowerment, some have found freedom in covering up. Ahmed, 20, a student at Kingston University, has been wearing a veil for nearly three years. It was a life changing decision that spawned tensions in her family from day one. “There have been instances where I have been thrown out of the house because my dad was like, ‘it’s either the veil or it’s me’,” she says. “And I said, ‘it’s the veil all the way dad’.” There are around 2.8 million Muslims in the United Kingdom, but there are no exact figures on how many Muslim women wear the veil. The majority of women in Western Europe who cover their face wear the Niqab, which is a veil that covers the face but exposes the eyes. The Burqa covers the entire face, including the eyes. People often confuse the Burqa with the Niqab, but Ahmed draws a clear distinction between the two. She began practising her religion after failing to find tranquillity in her life. She describes her former self as ‘bitter with discontent for the world’, and recalls getting into frequent fights. At the age of 16, Ahmed decided to wear the Hijab (headscarf) and was immediately shunned by her friends. Her parents assumed she was going through a teenage phase.

“I’m not here to enforce anything on you and I’m not here to judge you” “The more I progressed in my religion, the more I lost friends. But it reinstated the fact that what I was doing was right. If they can’t accept me for I am, then they are not really my friends,” she says. It was only when Ahmed decided to go all the way and wear a full veil that both her Muslim and nonMuslim friends began to completely avoid her. “You get daily challenges,” says Ahmed. “When I wore the veil, I went from being the life of the party to slowly being isolated and withdrawn. It’s hurtful.” For women living in a western society, the veil is often bewilder-

The Niqab is often associated with inequality and female opresssion. Wearing the veil is a source of controversy both outside, and within, the Muslim community

ing, especially after decades of female pioneers breaking barriers and achieving equal rights. “There is a certain void you cannot fill. There is a beauty and simplicity to the veil. I believe in more to life than just the superficial and material,” she says. Despite dealing with peer pressure and finding confidence in her appearance, Ahmed still faces challenges in wearing the veil, often feeling like a moving target for insults and mockery. “I’ve been called a letterbox, a ninja, I’ve honestly heard everything,” she says, laughing. “People find the need to insult you. I could insult you back, I could drop everything and say, ‘you know what, let’s take this outside’. “But everything I do and wherever I go, I remind myself that I am an ambassador for my religion. So I wouldn’t insult anyone back, because in a state of anger I wouldn’t be representing my religion.” In the past couple of years, the veil has been the subject of global political debate. Several politicians, such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, have declared it undemocratic and unwelcome, proclaiming that it should be banned for encouraging the control and submission of women.

Although Ahmed acknowledges that some women are forced to wear the veil by their male relatives, she does not believe that this is the case universally. “If a woman wore a miniskirt and got raped would you ban miniskirts? No, because that would be wrong,” says Ahmed. “You would take away something from the woman that she likes and feels is a part of her. If I was to take this veil off, it would be like missing my heart. “I’m more than capable, I’m not withdrawing from society. I feel this makes me a better person.” *Noon, 21, is also one of the few girls wearing the Niqab at KU. Having worn it for only one year, she is still new to the experience, but fiercely dedicated. “I don’t wear my veil because I am running away from something,” says Noon. “I wear the veil to protect myself and my religion. “It’s a reminder of who I truly am and not what society wants me to be.” Like Ahmed, she also experienced a backlash for choosing to cover. She has been accused of being a fundamentalist and a cavewoman. She says that continually facing questions about her choice can be

tiring. “You find yourself in a position where you have to justify everything,” she says. “It’s physically exhausting.” But despite the negativity, Noon says she has received moral support from the Islamic Society at KU, which has reinforced her perseverance about wearing the veil.

“You find yourself in a position where you have to justify everything” “No one should, or is allowed, to force you to do, or not do, anything,” says Noon. “What you do in this life is your choice.” Deciding to wear the veil is a controversial move even within the Muslim community. There have been heated debates among scholars, some claiming that the veil is more of a cultural practice than a strict religious observance. Ahmed believes distrust towards the veil stems from fear and ignorance. “People are scared that one day I’m going to run after them and put a veil on top of their heads and tie them down,” says Ahmed. “I’m not here to enforce anything on you and I’m not here to judge you. I’m

Pic: Rex

not even demanding that you accept it, because it’s my decision.” She also disagrees with the popular notion that women who wear the veil need to be liberated and saved. “You are trying to save me from a choice I have personally made. And you’re telling me my choice is wrong,” she says. “You are taking my freedom of choice and expression away. “You are not saving me: you’re just causing unnecessary problems for me.” Noon agrees and adds: “We don’t need to be saved. What needs to be saved is the way people think.” Both women have high aspirations. Ahmed wants to get into diplomacy and work with the United Nations, while Noon wants to have a career in the medical industry. And both women intend to keep their veils on while doing this. “I feel happy. It completes me and it’s who I am,” says Ahmed. “You will always be criticised by society, so why not do what your heart feels is right? “Your happiness is the most important thing. And no one is allowed to take that away from you. My veil is my happiness.” *Name has been changed riveronline.co.uk


December 9 - December 16 2011

ENTERTAINMENT

19

Diary of a Badman: from YouTube to standup gigs By Amirah Valu K0902702

Humza will be performing at Kingston Hill this weekend.

Pic: Humza Productions

Film Reviews

Meet Humza Arshard, the YouTube sensation who has stormed the online world with crazy antics on his online show Diary of a Badman. What makes this uprising comedian, know as Badman, someone we should be keeping an eye on next year? It might be his good looks or his funny one liners or the way he can tell a story and make it relatable to so many young people today. “It’s really hard being a young Muslim, Pakistani and British citizen. It’s all very confusing, like my Uncle Taj’s moustache,” said Humza. The 26-year-old comedian from South London has become a YouTube sensation, gaining over 28 million views from his videos and is now playing his first ever UK standup tour. The short comedic films he creates on YouTube capture the Badman in his day-to-day life of living in London, hanging out with his friends and causing the occasional bit of chaos.

At the end of every video there is a moral message based on the Islamic religion. “What I have tried to do with my comedy is to have a message at the end that is subtle. “The messages put in them are to inspire the viewer to be a better person or learn something from it. You don’t have to be Muslim to respect your mum or learn that violence isn’t the right way. Any culture or religion can relate to it.” Initially planning to do 10 episodes, Humza is contemplating whether to carry on with Badman after receiving “friendly threats” from his dedicated fans. “There’s nothing really good on television these days, my fans want some form of entertainment. There is so much that I can do with Badman, it’s only been going for a year. I want to see what happens with number 10 and we will take it from there.” When Humza first started part one of his diaries series, it took him three days to make, but as the diaries became more successful, they have taken him longer to create and edit. “Everything has got bigger, there’s

so much pressure because we have a larger fan base. Now it takes a couple of months.” If you think that he is similar to his alter ego then you could be right. “Unfortunately we are quite alike. But there are some things I exaggerate, like him being dumb, that’s not really me.” Humza, who has been on his first nationwide tour across the UK this December, will be performing his last tour date Saturday at Kingston University. “It’s a really great feeling performing in front of a packed audience, the buzz and energy is completely different. In my room I’m speaking to my camera and it’s really lonely.” And expect some new material from Humza’s tour. “I can’t rely on the same jokes all my life, I have to be creative and imaginative, and it’s not always the easiest things to do.” Humza will be playing his last tour date on Saturday December 10 at Kingston Hill’s Lawley Lecture Theatre, 7pm – 9pm. Black Beanies advised. Tickets cost £10.

Doe-eyed Puss in Boots fails to charm Have a Merry Spliffmas By Fabiola Büchele K0931339 This is the story of the cat that became a legend. Or is it the story of how the film industry milks its cash cows until their milk turns sour? After what felt like the 12th sequel of Shrek, Dreamworks are still not done with reusing their material, abandoning the full fairytale cast and centring the story on just Puss in Boots. No mention of the ogre. Side characters are often written as an afterthought to big heroes like Shrek to add more

dimensions to a story. Puss in Boots is first introduced on screen all bigeyed, which caused sighs of ‘awwcute-cat’ from cinema seats across the world in the second Shrek. However, on his own the character loses his impact. The story that puts Puss centre stage is set in Spain, which conveniently suits the accent of returning voice Antonio Banderas. The tale goes something like this: The poor ginger cat is being sought for a crime he didn’t really commit and now spends his seven lives living underground, drinking shots of whole milk in dingy bars and purring over every pussy cat he can lay a paw on. And then the rest of the fairytale crew comes in. What was introduced when Shrek was still something out of the ordinary is now just a bit dull.

Jack and Jill are a pair of violent mercenaries who are in possession of three magic beans that Humpty Dumpty wants to get a hold of, and he needs Puss’s help to get them. And so the film follows them on their quest full of the sort of suspension and storyline any film student is taught in screenplay writing 101. There is a hot female kitten, some car chasing, betrayal and a story of brotherhood. Though the movie is voiced by a cast of big names, from Salma Hayek (her Mexican accent fits the Spanish theme), Zach Galifianakis as Humpty Dumpty to Billy Bob Thorton getting a few lines in as Jack, it is nothing more than recycled movie tricks and jokes blended together for 90 minutes of light entertainment. If you can still laugh when the 10th cat related joke along the lines of “look what the cat brought in, oh no it is the cat” and “I can feel a fur ball coming on” or crack up when the egg looks a bit iffy and says “I think I’m going to yolk”, then wait for the DVD to come out and enjoy an evening on your couch. There is just no need to go to the cinema for it. Release date: December 9 Rating:

No more ‘ahhhs’ for this cat.

Pic: Rex

By Matthew McEvoy K0808894 Cult duo Harold & Kumar bring festive cheer this spliffmas, reuniting for their unashamedly funny third outing. If irreverent, grotesque and overly improbable humour is to your taste, then A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas will be right up your tree. The humour is still as puerile as the last two films, yet there is a warmer, less outlandish touch. It plays on the value of family and friendship during the Yuletide season. The story revolves around Harold (John Cho) and Kumar’s (Kal Penn) quest to search for a new Christmas tree, after a highly unlikely series of mishaps potentially ruins Harold’s in-law’s Christmas, in particular Danny Trejo who plays a ferocious father-in-law.

Their late-night quest sees them take on a Ukrainian drugbaron, a dance off with How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris and a run in with Santa. The 3D aspect is deployed effectively, if at times slightly nauseatingly, with cheeky nods to the audience reminding you that you are watching it in 3D and the ruin-your-retina action sequences. Like its predecessors, it is still a bit hit-and-miss and you probably will not leave the cinema wheezing, but there are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments which, coupled with the surreal element, really make it a credible alternative to those Home Alone re-runs, or something with Hugh Grant in it. Release date: December 9 Rating:

The third installment will leave you on a high.

Pic: Rex

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ENTERTAINMENT

December 9 - December 16 2011

Let it Snow A strange land, a brave heroine and an evil queen. This can only mean one thing: This Christmas, The Snow Queen is paying a visit to Kingston’s Rose Theatre. By Amirah Valu Based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the Snow Queen is adapted by Charles Way, and is directed by Natasha Metherall. Set in a far away folk village The Snow Queen tells the story of Kai and Gerda, best friends who get separated by the Snow Queen. Kai is seduced by The Snow Queen’s magical charm and is promised that going with her will be a fun adventure. It is up to the heroine of the play Gerda to go on a journey through spring, summer and autumn to bring him home safely. The show’s great strength is that both adults and children can enjoy it as it adds a new touch to the fairy tale genre. It is comedic at times, has funny one-liners and a range of relatable characters. Some of the plot in the production is, at times, not consistent and with so many different characters being introduced it can get confusing to try and understand each new character. That said the superb acting from the cast makes up for it.

Game

The Snow Queen played by Sugar Rush and Fresh Meat actress Sara Stewart plays the perfect villain, adding the occasional cackle and wearing an outfit of which any Disney villan would be envious. The stunning set design created by Su Blackwell uses paper designs, which are influenced by fairytales and storytelling. Every scene in the play has a creative element to it and great attention to detail. For example, in the scene where Gerda has to face the robbers to make her journey to the Northern lights, the stage transforms into a forest with faint lighting and artificial fire to help the story come to life. Overall the play does have some elements of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It is fun, light-hearted and will fill you with Christmas warmth. The Snow Queen is playing at The Rose Theatre on Kingston from now until January 8. Tickets cost between £8-£26. Students get £3 off with a valid student ID card.

The Snow Queen lights up Rose Theatre this Christmas. The show is running until January 8

What doesn’t the PSP Vita have? Laura Varley gives an exclusive preview of what we can expect from the new Playstation Vita The PlayStation Vita is the new portable gaming device Sony says it is set to revolutionise gaming on the go. The 5” OLED screen and topend processor give players something they haven’t had before and make playing games on the Vita almost as good as playing on any console. “I can’t wait to play the PSP Vita,” said avid gamer and Kingston University Engineering student, Suraj Patel. “ I have been a fan of the PSP since if first launched, I can’t wait to see the new changes.” The new handheld gaming device has not one, but two touch screens, one on the front and one on the back, which is an innovative addition to the gaming world. There will be a number of wellknown games launched with the Vita including, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Wipeout, Super Monkey Ball and Little Big Planet. There are also some new exciting and exclusive games for the Vita such as Escape Plan, which features two blob-like characters riveronline.co.uk

The latest Revelation Is Assassin’s Creed Revelations as good as the others? By Zak Zaki Assassin’s Creed: Revelations Genre: Action / Adventure Format: PS3/Xbox/PC

The PSP Vita, released in Febuary 2012

who must escape the factory they are trapped in. The two touch screens are used to control both the characters, and the environment. Additionally, gamers have the option to play their PS3 games on the PSP Vita. Sony’s English community team leader, Chris Owen, explained why the Vita is so exciting for gamers: “It brings so much to the masses that hasn’t been seen before in the

Pic: Rex

portable market. “From the addition of the second analogue stick to make FPS (first person shooter) more accessible on a handheld, to the implication of front and reverse touch screens. “There are just so many possibilities to bring new and exciting dimensions to gaming.” The PlayStation Vita will launch February 22 2012. The Wi-Fi only model will cost £229.99 and the 3G model will cost £279.99.

Pic: Rose Theatre

Gamers have spent many hours jumping from roof to roof assassinating unsuspecting archers and leaping into conveniently placed haystacks in Assassin’s Creed. Now our favourite suave Italian Ezio Auditore, has returned in the final chapter of the series in Revelations set in the breathtaking city of Istanbul. The visuals that we have come to expect from the Assassin’s Creed series are simply jaw dropping in this new installment. The historical settings for the game really make this a joy to play, as you save the day in this visually beautiful world. Ezio is on a quest to discover the secrets of the assassins and the Templars. Gamers can expect the usual jumps through time, which take us to the memories of our old friend Altair from the first game. Then there are the customary excursions to our oth-

er hero Desmond’s mind to form one mammoth of a story line. Although the characters have left Italy for exotic Turkey, Assassin’s Creed Revelations is still very much the educational experience that the last three were. Despite the new weapons that are available, including the new deadly hook blade, customizable bombs and forming your own brotherhood to pounce on the enemies; this game is very similar to its predecessors. The first two installments of the game were original and extremely addicitive. But as the series has progressed the storylines have seemed more drawn out. Assasin’s Creed:Brotherhood and its quest and tasks seemed like a chore because there was so much to do. Players have become accustomed to the epic battles and crazy stunts of the game, but it would have been nice to see something a little different instead of playing safe with an already well-established game. Rating 3.5/5


December 9 - December 16 2011

SPORT

A work of Art Andrew Murphy K0915001

Kingston University University of the Arts

102 0

Kingston’s first XV were rampant on Wednesday afternoon, scoring a ton against University of the Arts London in an entertaining enocounter at Tolworth. The Arts had difficulty keeping possession, frequently losing the ball right in front of their own try line and inviting the home side to pile on the points. Laurence Stephan scored five tries of his own with a series of devestating runs. As weak as the away side were, Kingston worked for their chances, heaping on pressure from each restart as Arts tried to push forward with a little too much urgency. After the final whistle, Kingston coach Arran Cruickshanks revealed he had set his side a target of a clean sheet at half time, and they set about their task resolutely, dealing with anything the visitors could throw at them. Going into the break 64 points to

23

Bruce Lee risks axe by Kingston Joseph Longley K0944811 A course teaching a street-wise martial arts technique made famous by Bruce Lee will be cancelled if it fails to attract enough students for Monday’s session. The class held at the sports centre at Penrhyn road, which teaches Wing Chun, “will have to be closed down” according to club president

Danny Tang, unless numbers rise. Mr Pham-Thanh, the club’s instructor, said: “On the street when people fight, if they can take your eyes, they’ll take your eyes; Wing Chun is about defending against these aggressive techniques.” The class is on Monday between 9pm and 10pm. Mr Pham-Thanh can be contacted at Sifu@be5t. co.uk for information on his Wing Chun classes.

Men’s 2nds lose cup tie at home Lars Thomesen K0929606 Kingston flying high

the good, Kingston were handed a piece of luck at half time as their opponents’ loose-head prop hobbled off the pitch, unable to carry on. With no natural front row replacement, Arts felt their loss as Kingston turned over another scrum to start the second period with their eleventh try. KU were starting to enjoy their rugby, and it certainly showed. They were allowed to run and gain territory with far too much ease before being tackled, and marauding fullback John Brooker had Arts’

Pic Andrew Murphy

backs up with a cheeky finish as he held the ball aloft running under the posts. Despite being so far in front, Kingston showed no sign of relenting, and that was something which pleased coach Cruickshanks as much as the result itself. “You really can’t argue with that scoreline,” said Cruickshanks. “I was impressed with how we kept working til the end, even though the match was already won.” “All we can do is keep winning to put pressure on Surrey, and just wait for that big game.”

Kingston 2nd Westminster 1st

1 1

(Westminster win 4-2 on penalties)

Kingston football seconds were close to a heroic win against Westminster in their cup tie at Tolworth Sports Ground. Both teams made continuous attempts to play route one football despite extreme wind. Kingston’s Portuguese playmaker, Alex Mourao, tapped in an Andre Burford cross five minutes before full time to cancel out Jamie Turner’s first half opener for Westminster.

After Kingston got their goal, the Westminster defender was still on the ground, and the match was stopped for 20 minutes as an ambulance came to pick up the injured player and take him to the hospital. As the player was treated on the pitch, the rest of the players tried anything to keep warm and stay focused on the remainder of the game. Once the player was taken to hospital with a suspected knee injury, the match went straight to penalties as poor light prevented extra time. The visitors – two leagues above Kingston – kept cool and scored their first four penalties, which turned out to be enough as Kingston missed two.

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Sport

Kingston condemned University of the Arts London to their seventh successive league loss of the season with an emphatic attacking display and all important shut-out For the full match report see Page 23

John Brooker runs in one of many Kingston tries

Pic: Andrew Murphy

Kingston mint at Imperial John Bevan K0818161 Imperial Medics Kingston University

The influential Chendlik flicks on

Pic: John Bevan

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Kingston’s first XI cruised into the last 16 of the cup with an easy victory against a lacklustre Imperial College side on Wednesday. The away side took the game straight to Imperial and threatened in the first 10 minutes after Gareth Chendlik’s powerful effort was beaten away by the Imperial keeper. In windy conditions, Kingston did well to keep the ball on the ground and play their football with Imperial rarely threatening early on. Kingston were lucky to get away with a stonewall penalty shout before they made the breakthrough.

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A deep corner from Leon Schwier was nodded in by Sam Gordon. The centre back was under pressure from two Imperial defenders but still managed to nod the opener into the top of the net. Imperial nearly hit back immediately, taking advantage of some lazy defending down the right hand side but Kieran Sanderson stayed tall and blocked the effort. Schwier then made good progress for Kingston down the left hand side, providing two crosses that on another day would have been tapped into the Imperial net. Kingston didn’t have to wait long until their second, as Chendlik headed a goal kick right into the path of Kofi Wiredu who used his pace to move away from the last defender and slot past the keeper. Terry Mireku put any result be-

yond doubt early in the second half, cutting in from the right and drilling a left foot finish past a tired looking Imperial Keeper. A fourth was no more than Kingston deserved and it came 15 minutes from the end as Schwier capped another fine performance with a volley at the back post from seven yards out. Imperial’s blushes were spared by Jack Robinson’s consolation goal and a second could have come soon after as Kingston switched off on the left hand side. But it wasn’t to be and the first team ensured Kingston’s name stayed in the hat for the last 16 of the BUCS MARS Football 2011-2012 South Eastern Conference Cup. For all fixtures and results from BUCS, visit www.bucs.org.uk

The River Issue 51  

Kingston University's bi-weekly paper, written, produced and edited by Kingston University journalis students

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