1st March 2021
Official free fortnightly newspaper by and for Sussex students · Printed on recycled paper
University return uncertain for most after COVID roadmap anouncement
Jake Nordland News Sub-Editor
The return of most university students to campuses and inperson teaching has been left uncertain after the government’s 22 February announcement on the easing of lockdown restrictions in England. The government announced that most university students cannot yet come back, and will have to wait for a review to be conducted “by the end of the Easter holidays” into options on the timing of their return. But universities can allow students on practical-based courses to return to face-toface teaching from 8 March, with twice weekly testing available on campuses for any students that do return. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in his speech to the House of Commons that “students on university courses requiring practical teaching, specialist facilities or onsite assessments” would qualify for an 8 March return. “But all others will need to continue learning online, and we will review the options for when they can return by the end of the Easter Holidays”, he continued. A government statement says the review will “take account of the latest data” and will be part of a wider road-
map for the further easing of restrictions, with students given a week’s notice ahead of the return. In a university-wide email update from Student Communications, Sussex announced that in-person activity could resume from 8 march for “certain courses with practical elements” within the following schools: Life Sciences, Engineering and Informatics, and Media Arts & Humanities. The email warned students not to return to campus unless they were contacted directly by their School and permitted to return. Students are currently only allowed to return to university accommodation in ‘exceptional situations’ that would be improved by moving back, including health or safety reasons or a lack of access to appropriate accommodation, facilities, or study spaces. Asked for comment on which specific courses within these schools could resume, a university spokesperson said: “Schools are adhering to the government’s latest advice to Universities in terms of which courses may resume in-person teaching and learning from the 8 March, in addition to the existing in-person teaching in BSMS and Education and So-
Lockdown lifting & Society fundraising 3
Pandemic puppies & Free speech champions? 9
Number 10 cial Work.” “This advice states that the government is ‘now advising providers [Universities] that they can resume in-person teaching and learning for students who are studying practical or practice-based (including creative arts) subjects and require specialist equipment and facilities from 8 March’.” The spokesperson did not comment when asked who had the power to determine which courses counted as practical and could therefore qualify for a return. An email to students in the Media Arts & Humanities School, seen by The Badger, revealed that in-person teaching for practical courses would focus on “provision of facilities/equipment, facilitation of project work, and small groups
Ezzy Bones 22-23
doing independent learning, with lectures and seminars generally continuing online”. It added that “for most students, and I know this is disappointing, there is no change at this point. We would ask you to remain where you are currently in residence, unless there are particular wellbeing reasons for relocating”. The announcements from the government and the university were met with anger by some at Sussex over their lack of clarity. The Badger spoke to Karoline, a 1st year History student, who said: “I understand why [we can’t go back] but it’s still kinda disappointing. I’m a first year and I’ve met no one but my f lat at uni so I feel disconnected a bit from the uni - I don’t feel a part of it”. Continued on page 3...
Microsoft insight & Elephant in the Zoom 13
Theatre testing & New artists and the pandemic 17
Travel & Culture Wellness tourism & Icelandic adventures 26
Science & Tech
Folklore fiction? & Vitamin D in the pandemic 29
Antarctic quest & Pistol shooting success 31
Editor-in-Chief Josh Talbot firstname.lastname@example.org Print Production Editor Ellie Doughty Online Production Editor Georgia-May Keetch Print Production Sub-Editor Gurpreet Raulia Online Production Sub-Editor Margaret Arabambi Marketing Managers Alex Norman Sarah Wong The News Team Oliver Mizzi Ewan Vellinga Grace Curtis Jake Nordland Aiala Suso badger-news@sussexstudent. com The Comment Team Issy Anthony Will Day Libby Mills Joel Renouf-Cooke Rosie Cook badger-opinion@sussexstudent. com The Features Team Alana Harris Olly Williams Teddy Parkin Maisie Thorman badgerfeatureseditor@gmail. com The Arts Team Jessica Hake Robyn Cowie email@example.com The Books Team Eric Barrell Molly Openshaw thebadger.bookseditor@gmail. com The Music Team Alice Barradale Dylan Bryant thebadger.musiceditor@gmail. com The Film & Television Team Yazz James Rob Salusbury firstname.lastname@example.org The Theatre Team Elijah Arief email@example.com The Artist Focus Team Luisa De La Concha Montes firstname.lastname@example.org The Travel & Culture Team Hal Keelin Bryony Rule Katya Pristiyani email@example.com The Sports Team Charlie Batten Max Killham firstname.lastname@example.org The Science & Technology Team Eleanor Deane Rob Barrie email@example.com Events and Publicity Jess Dingle Grace Ochieng Proof Readers Yasmine Yaguer Jake Nordland
Editorial Josh Talbot Editor in Chief
Ellie Doughty Print Production Editor
Hello hello! Welcome to what is the ninth edition of the academic year and the third edition of the new term! I’ve spent a while writing in these editorials about how fast time is passing and have now concluded that it’s unhelpful. Seriously thoughwhere is the time going? Since I last wrote here, we have been given a roadmap out of lockdown, although it could perhaps better be described as an unpredictable satnav. I mean, ‘map’ implies a permanent sheet of directions. It’s not a political point to say that that isn’t necessarily what we have- we have optimism, wishful thinking and a set of plans that are still subject to the same uprooting change that we are all used to at this point. Onwards and upwards though! One thing that we can be certain of is the fact that you have a great edition of The Badger to read. Filled to the brim with interesting content pertinent to youdo Universities need a free speech champion? Is Netflix good or bad for cinema? Just two questions raised in this issue. We’ve got content that will root you firmly in the here and now- the world we live in, with international and local politics but we also have some escapism, which we all need in these times. Flick to Travel and Culture for talk of Icelandic getaways- not quite a walk in the park- or to read about an endurance challenge like no other, Sports have been chatting to a firefighter who is one of a crew looking to journey to Antarctica next year. We very much hope you enjoy this edition and implore you to get involved if you fancy writing for us at all. We are always looking for new people to join the team and if that interests you don’t hesitate to email badger@sussexstudent. com- we’d love to hear from you! Thanks again for reading, it’s much appreciated- enjoy!
Hi everyone, thanks for coming back! We’re ready for a change in the wind with this edition, as the country heard it’s intended plan for the end of lockdown. We’re excited to be heading towards brighter weather, and brighter days! The University has also added some tentative in person teaching to some of our timetables, in line with the proposed Government plan for returns to campus. This on top of the weather this past weekend has given a lot of us some sense of relief, I’m sure. However, some have likely felt the pressure that accompanies the now daunting prospect of what was once so… normal. The thought of huge crowds, sweaty strangers, airplanes, nightclubs, it feels surreal. Whether you’re rejoicing, or trying to move through the shock, The Badger has some great content to skim through. And, as always, feel free to get in touch with any ideas, thoughts or comments! News of course covers the current COVID news in this edition, while also bringing us news from Beirut, Iraq, Dubai and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Features brings us insight into the world of online, an interview with Microsoft manager and Brighton Alumni Entrepreneurs. Comment takes a look at the Britney Spears debate, disability, the casting of actors for characters who are gay, the Big Debate, and more! Arts are full of recommendations, reviews and profiles in Books, Music, Theatre, Artist Focus, Editor’s Choice and Film & TV. Science and Tech discusses the new virus strain, ‘It’s a Sin’, and Vitamin D. Travel & Culture and Sport bring even more to the mix with pieces on tourism, lockdown 3, the Antarctic Fire Angels and more! Feel free to browse at your leisure, and enjoy the pieces our incredible team have put together once again!
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The Badger 1st March 2021
News ... continued from front “I think they should make a decision now or at least after 1-2 weeks of the schools back. I don’t think they should leave it until the last minute”. The Officer team at the University of Sussex Students’ Union told The Badger: “We were disappointed that the government announcements mentioned very little about university students, other than that this would be reviewed after Easter.” “This government has continued to ignore the struggles of university students over the course of the pandemic. We recently found out that university students in the UK have wasted over £1bn on empty accommodation this year ... These are the issues which we need our university to show some leadership on, and we need the government to increase student support.”
3 The news of the delayed student return comes after a report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in January found that 40% of students who had returned home for the winter break had already returned to their term-time accommodation. However, the ONS revealed only 33% of university students travelled home to friends or family from university accommodation over the break. 37% had stayed in their university accommodation, and a further 30% were already living at home. In a webinar for the Higher Education Policy Institute last Monday, Sussex’s ViceChancellor Adam Tickell revealed that 2000 Sussex students had already returned to campus accommodation, about half of the 4500 students that live on-campus. In the talk, Tickell also claimed that Sussex is trying to resume
Morten Watkins some face-to-face teaching for all students by the end of the year, but that they wouldn’t know if it was possible until “really quite late in the day”. Tickell added: “There’s relatively little teaching that happens after Easter so we’re
working on whether we can have a meaningful package for students when they come back”. “It’s really tricky but we know that students have already returned to their campuses and their university towns even though they’ve been advised
by the government not to, so because of that we would like them to be able to engage in learning and in other activities on our campus”. Lucy, a Biomedical Science student in her 1st year, told The Badger that the university “shouldn’t be encouraging mass movement in a pandemic for the sake of one or two hours of in person teaching a week”. “Mass movement especially to and from rural areas puts people and infrastructure at risk. If you’ve been at home until now this term, you should if possible stay at home- you can study there”. The university stressed that any students who cannot go back to university will not be disadvantaged academically: “All students’ learning outcomes will still be met remotely and all assessments will continue to be online for the remainder of this academic year”.
Government propose to appoint ‘Free Speech Champion’ Ellie Deane Science Editor On 16th February the Education Secretary announced tougher legal measures to support free speech and academic freedom at universities. The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, warned of a ‘chilling effect’ where students and staff feel unable to express themselves freely. The new proposals reflect a manifesto commitment to strengthen academic freedom in universities. These proposals were published in a report titled ‘Higher education: free speech and academic freedom’ on 16th February. The measures include a new free speech condition on academic intuitions as part of the registration process to receive access to public funding. The Office for Students (the higher education regulator in England), would have the power to impose sanctions for breaches of this free speech condition. Additionally, Student Unions would be placed under the jurisdiction of the Office for Students (the higher education regulator in England). Currently, under the Higher Education & Research Act 2017, only universities are registered with the Office for Students and this does not extend to Unions. As universities are registered with the OfS they must abide by Section 43 of the Education Act 1986. Student Unions on the other hand are predominantly registered as charities and not with the OfS. The proposal to register student unions with the OfS
Number 10 would mean unions would need to abide by section 43. Another proposed measure is to introduce a ‘statutory tort proposal’. This would provide a means of redress for individuals that have faced restriction to their freedom of speech. This would include students or academic staff who are disciplined because of their views, organisers of events which are cancelled and visiting speakers who are disinvited or ‘no platformed’. A further proposal is to appoint a ‘Free Speech and Academic Freedom Champion’ to the Office for Students board. This Free Speech Champion would investigate infringements of free speech in higher education and make recommendations. The report states that
there is currently an individual on the OfS Board with a similar role, which is the Director for fair access and participation. In a statement, the Education Secretary said: ‘I am deeply worried about the chilling effect on campuses of unacceptable silencing and censoring. That is why we must strengthen free speech in higher education, by bolstering the existing legal duties and ensuring strong, robust action is taken if these are breached.’ The Badger spoke to Annie O’Connor, the Societies and Events Officer at the Sussex Student Union who said: ‘Freedom of speech is something which is hugely important on campuses. However, the very small number of “no platform-
ing” incidents that the government paper references seem to be, at best, scraping the barrel’. Annie explained that ‘a far more relevant conversation to be had is the impact of the government enforced Prevent Duty. Racially marginalised groups and Muslim students (and staff) are familiar with having their freedom of speech suppressed since 2015 when universities and other public sector institutions had this imposed on them.’ Annie explained that this ‘is a real problem with how freedom of speech is suppressed within our institution but one which is not mentioned in the government policy paper or much of the mainstream narrative surrounding it. She added that ‘There is also another conversation to be
had about whether the policy paper’s proposals will actually work to further protect freedom of speech within universities. The proposal to allow individuals to sue student unions if they feel their freedom of speech has been curtailed, for instance, could easily be counter intuitive to the aims of the paper.’ The Badger also spoke to Tom Wishart, the president of Sussex’s Liberate the Debate (LtD), who described the government’s proposals as ‘largely positive’. Commenting on the changes in legislation Tom explained that he thought, ‘the SU must be accountable to a higher body in this respect in order to prevent the partisan leanings of its members from affecting the decisions they make’. With respect to any drawbacks he added that, ‘The only thing that would make me uncomfortable is if this policy by the government is not instituted fairly. We must remember that free speech is not an exclusively right-wing issue and we should be wary of anybody who tries to make it so.’ In a study by the ‘Policy Institute at King’s College London’, 81 per cent of students thought that freedom of expression is more important than ever, with 86 per cent of students concerned that social media is enabling people to express intolerant views. However, most students considered freedom of speech to be more threatened in the UK overall than in their own universities. 63 per cent of students considered free speech and robust debate to be well protected in their university.
The Badger 1st March 2021
4 Plans to ease national lockdown revealed
Luke Thomson On 22 February, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made his announcement for his “cautious roadmap” out of what is hopefully the last lockdown in England. The lifting of restrictions will come every five weeks, allowing for a monthly review of cases, followed by a week for citizens and businesses. Before each stage is announced, there will be four key criteria that must be matched before the policies go ahead. This includes: 1. The continuing success of the vaccine programme. 2. Numbers of deaths// hospitalizations majorly reduced because of said vaccines. 3. The reductions of infections rates, especially those linked to hospital admissions. 4. No new variations of the coronavirus starting to develop in mass. If all goes well, the lockdown will be gradually reduced in a
four-stage plan, beginning on 8 March, and finally concluding on 21 June. These dates are not set in stone. The first stage will come in two parts. On 8 March, all students in primary, secondary and college schools will return. Secondary school kids will be made to wear masks in class, as well as teachers and staff. Students at university taking at least partially practical subjects can start to return, but most have been told to stay home until the end of the Easter holidays, subject to review. People will be allowed to meet one other person from another household for social recreation, and one nominated person will also be given the chance to visit a loved one in care homes. The second part of this stage comes in (all things permitted) on 29 March. This will extend outside meeting to the infamous “rule of six”, or another single household. Sports courts such as tennis and basketball also return from this time. What has confused many has
been the advice that “parent and child” groups may meet up in numbers of 15 outside. Whether this is to do with school activities, or just general social meetups is not explicitly clear, and neither is if children count in the general rule of six. Stage two is planned to commence on 12 April, the main change here being that most non-essential retail will finally be allowed to return. This includes general shops and goods, as well as the spiritual comeback of hairdressers, gyms and beauty salons. It is even true that outside service in pubs and restaurants will be allowed, including the service of alcohol without the disastrous scotch egg inducing substantial meal rule. Domestic holidays will also commence in some accommodations. Stage three is then due on 17 May. This will extend outdoor meets to as many as 30 people, even allowing indoor meets of two households as well. Pub and restaurant service is expected to return in full capac-
ity and also the casual rollback of venues such as museums and cinemas. Controversially, some outside stadia will be allowed to return to capacities as high as 10,000, and even some indoor venues could have as many as 1,000. A little odd considering the indoor meet up rule of just two households. Finally, a full return to life is expected on 21 June, ironically the birthday weekend of Mr Johnson! This date will see all remaining limits on socialising lifted, including events such as concerts, bars, and of course, our treasured nightclubs. Major events such as weddings and festivals, despite being allowed to go ahead, will have some level of testing held before to ensure no major outbreaks recur. It is crucial to note that all of these stages are planned for England only, devolution ensures that Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be making their own plans for lifting resec-
tions. The policies have been met with some resistance in the Conservative party. The 70 MP led “Covid Recovery Group” believe the policies are too cautious and desire for all limits on social contact to be gone by May. This group is unlikely to get anything done though, as both the general parliament, as well as the public as a whole seems to be fairly pleased by the sensible plan. In the long term, Matt Hancock stated that things such as mask wearing and social distancing will gradually shift away from being official law, to more “a matter of personal responsibility”. Hancock also admitted that whilst plans are to majorly reduce the spread of the virus, it is highly unrealistic for us to expect a complete eradication of Covid, it is something he says, “we will have to live with like the flu”.
24/7 Run for the Samaritans: Sussex Men’s Rugby
Afghan peace talks resume as Taliban spring offensive looms
Oliver Mizzi News Editor
From Monday, Sussex’s very own Men’s Rugby team will be running non-stop for an entire week in aid of The Samaritans emergency appeal. There are 51 members of the club partaking in this charitable event that will take place between the Brighton pier and the i360. It is undertaken as a symbolic gesture of solidarity with the hard work of those in the Samaritans and the NHS who work around the clock to provide assistance to those that need it. The Badger talked to the VicePresident of the Rugby Club, Fergus Hamilton-Jones, who explained why they are undertaking this particular challenge; “Whilst our week of effort pales in comparison to the work of the NHS and helplines over the course of the pandemic, it is our way of showing our appreciation.” Ultimately, the men of the university rugby club will be visible on the seafront the entire week. This isn’t the first time that the University of Sussex Rugby club has showed up to run for charity. With the men’s team contributing 55 runners and £12,602.58, and the women’s team contributing 9 runners and £700 they raised a combined total of £13,302.58 for charity during the 2020 Brighton Half marathon.
The Club are undertaking this challenge to support the Samaritans who have been massively impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. The Samaritans provide, amongst other things, 24/7 call lines that provide a non-judgemental ear with the purpose of suicide prevention.
“Whilst our week of effort pales in comparison to the work of the NHS and helplines over the course of the pandemic, it is our way of showing our appreciation.” In 2019, the Samaritans received a call on average every 7 seconds. This figure is likely to be higher in the midst of the pandemic, with isolation disrupting the status quo and leaving many stranded, this landline is a lifeline. The charity has declared an emergency appeal for funding, the increased number of calls is putting the charity under immense pressure. One phone call costs £5 to receive and the rugby club aims to raise £7,500 to help this cause. Adorned in green tutus the men of Sussex University Rugby will be a constant presence on the Brighton sea front for the entire week beginning March 1, keep an eye out for them and give them a wave!
Intra-Afghan peace talks resumed after a Tweet from Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Naeem on Monday 22 February. Naeem cited the US-Taliban agreement – signed last year – as the reason for the resumption. The talks have come after a period of heavy winter fighting, with the Afghan government seemingly on the backfoot on the ground. The Afghan government and the US have both reaffirmed their commitment to a political solution. In an interview with the BBC President Ghani said that he would step down as president, and hold elections, if there was a peace deal and ceasefire. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a discussion with President Ghani on 18 February, also reiterated support for the peace process. Just as the peace talks continued in Doha, so too did the war in Afghanistan. The Taliban has continued fighting Afghan forces over the winter, and according to the New York Times, Taliban forces have taken control of areas outside the cities of Kunduz and Kandahar – provincial capitals in their respective provinces. It was also speculated that the Taliban is preparing for a major
The U.S. Army spring offensive, with Taliban sources close to Reuters news agency stating that commanders “are being called back to the battlefield to prepare for intensive fighting”. As a result, Afghan special forces are being streamlined and placed under one command. The growing uncertainty surrounding the ability of the Government to hold off a Taliban offensive has prompted the Biden administration to rethink the US-Taliban peace deal signed last year. A report from the Afghanistan Study Group to congress recommended “an immediate diplomatic effort to extend the current May 2021 withdrawal date” and to continue supporting the government diplomatically and militarily for an acceptable outcome. Moreover, NATO Secretary-
General Jens Stoltenberg announced that there is “no final decision on the future of our presence”, indicating a reluctance to leave the country. A report from Operation Freedom’s Sentinel – the NATO mission in the country – stated that if NATO withdraws, the Afghan Air Force would only be “combat effective for more than a few months”. In response to questions around the government’s ability to survive independently, President Ghani stated, “this is not Vietnam”. However, civilian casualties have been rising sharply in the last quarter of 2020, coinciding with the start of peace talks. The Taliban has blamed the US and Afghan forces for not abiding by the last years peace deal, whilst denying responsibility for the recent violence.
The Badger 1st March 2021
Jordanian flees spate of gendered violence under lockdown Laurence McKenzie A Jordanian national self-identified as 20-year-old Layan has attracted national attention for her video discussing her escape from her family’s abuse. Layan’s video in which she explains she has travelled to Turkey caused the hashtag #savelayan to top Twitter in Jordan, attracting the attention of high profile celebrities and royalty, taking to social media in protest. Turkey is one of the few locations a Jordanian passport holder can travel to visa-free. A distressed Layan explains to the camera that she travelled to Turkey without her family’s knowledge to flee the violence and abuse she suffers at their hands. The details of which are alleged to include sexual abuse, physical violence and beatings,
emotional torment and restrictions to her freedom. Layan tells of how her life had been limited in terms of education and she was permitted to “only do housework” and sleep. Shortly before her journey she was allowed a phone which was monitored checked by family members who she alleged would threaten to beat her “like her mother”. Throughout the shocking clip Layan references the rise in socalled ‘honour-killings’ in Jordan as a reason for her eventual decision to leave, for fear of joining this statistic. The United Nations have estimated that the number of women and girls killed in these ‘honour killings’ may exceed 5000. Many recognise this is difficult to clarify due to the secretive nature of such events with many disguised as ‘disappearances’
and accidents. In Layan’s home country of Jordan, humanitarian organisation ‘plan international’ has pointed to the restrictions in place in response to the spread of Covid-19 as placing many women and girls at “greater risks of gender-based violence”. They add that the increased risks posed by the virus have left many “less likely to seek help” under the imposed restrictions. Human rights collective ‘EuroMed Rights’, working with Jordanian agencies have reported an increase of more than 33% in domestic violence cases against women in this period. Instances of domestic violence and cases such as Layan have been an all-too-common sight on Jordanian media causing activist groups to call for an end to the penal code articles 97, 98, 99, lending themselves
to lenient sentencing for perpetrators of ‘honour killings’. Recent international attention on the captivity of Dubai’s Sheikha Latifa has drawn many to call for a reform in the practices and penal codes that allow this gendered abuse across many different nations. Jordanian activist Rana Husseini has told DW News that activism in Jordan has come along way in the last 25 years and has driven changes to penal code and controversial ‘protective custody schemes’ that can see those under threat imprisoned alongside convicted criminals. When speaking with The Badger, Husseini was quick to point out that this violence is “an international phenomenon” not unique to any “culture, country, class or religion”. Layan’s plea has been met with varied responses, with
some users offering support and advice adopting the hashtag ‘#savelayan’. The movement even caught the attention of the nation’s princess Basma bint Talal who took to Facebook in protest.
The United Nations have estimated that the number of women and girls killed in these ‘honour killings’ may exceed 5000. Many recognise this is difficult to clarify due to the secretive nature of such events with many disguised as ‘disappearances’ and accidents. Others have accused Layan of attention seeking and of being undeserving of international attention due to some assumption that she is homosexual.
Unrest after Spanish rapper is sentenced to jail Aiala Suso News Sub Editor Since Spanish rapper Pablo Hasél was arrested on 16 February, demonstrations have taken place across Spain, mainly in Barcelona and Madrid where there has also been violence, looting and vandalism. Hasél faces a jail sentence after his recent charges for inciting terrorism and insulting both royalty and state institutions were added to his criminal record. Protesters see in his arrest an attack on free-speech and demand his release. The protests started on 6 February when the 9-month jail sentence for Hasél was made public. The violent clashes that broke out between protesters and the police since then have led to over 160 arrests, of which 129 have occured in Catalonia. The main protests are happening in Barcelona and Madrid, where looting and vandalism have destroyed many shops and damaged public spaces. Only in Barcelona the damages are estimated to have cost several million so far. Shop owners see the events as “an act of destruction, not an exercise of freedom”. Spanish magistrate Ignacio González Vega –a title that in Spain means a higher category than a judge–, said that there has been similar cases in the past, but “the peculiarity of Pablo Hasél is that he [...] has a criminal record, for crimes not only of expression but also of another nature and, in fact, today there has been a new conviction for trying to attack a witness in a trial.” Hasel was convicted for the
Jordiventura96 first time in 2014 for exalting terrorism on account of several videos uploaded to YouTube between 2009 and 2011. He was accused of “praising” terrorist groups ETA, the GRAPO, Al Qaeda or Terra Lliure and “asking them to return to commit their actions”. He was not arrested because he had no previous convictions. In 2018, he was sentenced again for glorifying terrorism, insulting the Crown and attacking state institutions in both a song and 64 messages published on Twitter in 2016 –when he had 54.000 folowers. This time his crime was aggravated by recidivism. The rapper currently has
three other court cases open. He has been convicted for pushing, insulting and spraying cleaning liquid on a journalist in 2016; and for attacking a man who testified as a witness in a trial involving a friend of the rapper. These two judgments are being appealed and are not yet final. He is also being investigated for allegedly breaking into Lleida government sub-delegation in protest of the arrest of the former president of the Generalitat de Catalunya Carles Puigdemont –who is in exile after his unilateral declaration of independence. One of his most controversial messages, referring to the ter-
rorist group GRAPO, said: “The demonstrations are necessary, but not enough, let’s support those who have gone further”. In another tweet he said GRAPO “truly represents us”. He has also tweeted about conservative Spanish politicians: “They don’t sell me the story of who the bad guys are, I just think about killing them.”; and shared anti-feminist and degrading messages against women: “Bukkake for all the crazy women who paint us all men as potential abusers and wish there were only women”. In addition to the demonstrations, more than 200 Spanish artists, including the film director Pedro Almodóvar and actor
Javier Bardem, signed a petition calling for Hasél’s release and demanding the reform of laws on freedom of expression. They warn that the current law poses a threat to “all public figures who dare openly criticize the actions of state institutions.” The 1995 law that made insulting both the crown and state institution a crime has tormented many artists and satiric writers since it came into force. Different sectors of the Spanish government and humanitarian organisations such as Amnesty International have cataloged Hasél’s sentence as “unfair.” Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau, made a call for calm: “Defending the freedom of expression doesn’t justify in any case the destruction of property, frightening our fellow citizens, and hurting businesses already hurt by the crisis.” Spanish journalist at ICAL news agency, Carlos Tabernero, told The Badger: “The profile of the protesters is a diverse group of youngsters between 15 and 30 years old who are using Hasel’s arrest as an excuse; some belong to groups with a long anarchist and anti-system tradition, and others who respond violently against the system because they feel it has left them behind”. According to Tabernero: “In Barcelona, as some police and media reports suggest, there are violent groups that mobilize to produce altercations regardless of the reason, whether it is the imprisonment of Pablo Hasél, the Catalan independence movement or the restrictions decreed to stop COVID-19”.
The Badger 1st March 2021
Three people including Italian ambassador killed in Congo Ewan Vellinga News Online Sub Editor Three people including Italian ambassador Luca Attanasio were killed during an attempted kidnapping in the Democratic Republic of Congo on 22 February. Vittorio Iacovacci, an Italian Embassy official, and Mustapha Milambo, a driver, were also killed during the attack. They were all travelling in a United Nations (UN) convoy for the World Food Programme (WFP) when they were attacked near Virunga national park. Mr Milambo was killed immediately, while Mr Iacovacci and Mr Attanasio were caught in the ensuing crossfire between the armed group and park rangers, with the ambassador later dying of his wounds in a UN hospital in the nearby city of Goma. The armed group responsible for the attack has not yet been named, but ambushes are not unusual in the region, with six park rangers killed in an ambush just over a month ago, and 17 people killed in another attack
last year. The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, a rebel group with links to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, have been in operating the region for a long time, and The New York Times reports that there have been suggestions the attack my be linked to the group. The WFP, quoted in the New York Times, said the attack “occurred on a road that had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts,” and that it would be working with Congolese authorities to determine exactly what happened. However, the Congolese government stated that the authorities were not informed of the ambassador’s presence in the region, which they had “deemed unstable.” Congo has been plagued by civil war and instability since it gained independence in 1960, with the North Kivu region, where the attack occurred, having seen renewed violence in recent years. The UN mission in the country has been active since 2010,
after replacing a previous mission that started in 1999. Mr Attanasio was Head of the mission from 2017 until 2019, when he was appointed ambassador. The Italian government has expressed its condolences, with the foreign ministry saying “the circumstances of this brutal attack are yet to be known, but no effort will be spared to shed light on what happened.”
The armed group responsible for the attack has not yet been named, but ambushes are not unusual in the region, with six park rangers killed in an ambush just over a month ago, and 17 people killed in another attack last year. The Congolese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marie Tumba Nzeza, also offered her condolences and said the government would do everything to “find out who is behind this despicable murder.” The attack has seen further condemnation from around the world.
Sussex RAG Week Josh Talbot Editor-in-Chief Sussex’s Raising and Giving week is back this month, with societies across campus encouraged to get involved. After a few years of not running the event, the students’ union are reintroducing RAG week, where societies compete to raising the most money for their chosen causes. Annie O’Connor, Sports, Societies and Events Officer, said: “This is a great way to get societies and clubs engaging with their members and raising money for a good cause whilst lockdown continues. “I’ve already heard about some great fundraising ideas and can’t wait to see what groups get up to next week!” Between March 8-12, societies will be competitively raising money for their chosen causes, incentivised by the charity and also the three prizes the SU is offering those who come out on top in three categories. Prizes of £150 will be awarded to the society that raises the most money overall, the society
that raises the most money per head and the society that has the most creative fundraiser. Societies who wish to participate must fill out the signup form (available on the SU’s website. Competing groups have to be officially affiliated with the SU and they are encouraged to keep the SU up to date with daily funds raised. Organising can start now but only funds collected between 9 am on March 8 until 5 pm on March 12 can be counted.
Judge Fadi Sawan Removed By Lebanese Courts from Beirut Blast Investigation Diane Naimeh Staff Writer
The Higher Judicial and Criminal Court of Cassation made a decision to remove Judge Fadi Sawan from the investigation into the 4 August blast in Beirut’s port last year. On 18 February, families of the Beirut blast victims roamed the streets of Beirut protesting the removal of Judge Fadi Sawan from the case related to the Beirut blast. Various Lebanese citizens and families of the victims were enraged by this decision and described this situation as unfair. Apart from various debates and predictions there has been a latest development into the Beirut blast investigation linked with the removal of Judge Fadi Sawan and this reminded the Lebanese population about a prediction that was made by a Lebanese Astrologer Michael Hayek on the 31st of January 2021. During his 2021 forecast he predicted that the truth related to the august 4th blast could not be hidden and he stated that : “ Whatever they have try to do , scenarios, removing judge Fadi sawan and replacing him with another
judge they will not hide the truth” On 19 February, the Higher Judicial Council appointed Judge Tarek Bitar as Sawan’s successor. Tarek Bitar, who is also president of the Criminal Court in Beirut, is yet to accept his role. He previously rejected the same role back in August, stating in his letter it was for “reasons and convictions that I made clear” - but his reasons were not made public. According to various media outlets, Judge Tarek Bitar will start his lead into the investigation related to the Beirut blast investigation if he ends up accepting his position. On 4 August, the Minister
of Justice Marie-Claude Najem nominated an official Sami Younes, who was also reelected on Friday morning. Suddenly the Higher Judicial Court denied this role, since he had close connections with the Lebanese president Michael Aoun around the same day Sami was elected back then in August to take over the investigation for the blast , but the court also rejected him on the same day. Lebanese judges in the Higher Judicial Council stated the reason why they removed Sawan as an investigator is because he took 6 months and his evidence led to no answer at all. Judge Fadi Sawan charged Former Minister Yousef Fenios,
together with Prime Minister Hassan Diab, Former Finance Minister Ali Khalil as well as Ghazi Zeaitzer with negligence over the Beirut blast probe. However, all of them refused to be questioned and didn’t cooperate with this case. The Lebanese government were satisfied with this verdict since they didn’t want to be exposed if he told the truth as stated by MTV due to the fact he had solid evidence related to the ammonium nitrate explosion. The Lebanese researcher and human rights activist Aya Majzoub, and other protesters, described Fadi’s removal from the Beirut blast probe as ridicule, calling this outcome an “insult to the families of the victims”. The political chaos which happened last August represented the reality that Lebanon has been facing today, which caused all the Lebanese politicians such as President Micheal Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Former Prime Minister Hassan Diab to disagree with each other. According to several media sources, including LBC, AL Jazeera and other Lebanese sources, the Beirut Blast Investigation showed that the Lebanese authorities and political
leaders were instructed several times to remove the ammonium nitrate from the port. Lebanese citizens believed that nothing was done and no measures were taken and that this explosion caused colossal damage and devastation to the country of Lebanon and the city of Beirut, and its port, the people and the families of the victims. The hardship and blast in 2020 which destroyed the port was described as a non-nuclear explosion which killed around 200 people , injured 6,000 people and left 3,000 residents homeless. In a video that went viral, a Tik Tok user known as Bono Kaiser combined clips related to UFO’s together with the fake zombie apocalypse footage and claimed the Beirut blast was not real. He included a shot related to the Beirut blast in one of the videos this year. But he has since been criticized for joking about such a massive tragedy - one of the worst tragedies for the Lebanese people who are still searching for justice until today. It was described as being offensive and angered some Lebanese and non-Lebanese people alike.
The Badger 1st March 2021
Dubai royal family reject claims of concern over Princess Latifa In response to increasing concern over the welfare of Princess Latifa, the Dubai royal family announced that she is “being cared for at home” Grace Curtis News Print Sub Editor On 16 February, BBC Panorama published videos that they obtained featuring Princess Latifa of Dubai, in which she accuses the Dubai royal family of holding her hostage since her escape attempt in 2018. The news made headlines around the world and the royal family has since responded, claiming that she is “being cared for at home”. They released a statement stating that Princess Latifa “continues to improve and we are hopeful she will return to public life at the appropriate time”. In the secretly recorded videos obtained by the BBC, the princess said she is being held, against her will, alone in a villa, in fear of her life. “I’m doing this video from a bathroom, because this is the only room with a door I can lock. I’m a hostage. I am not free. I’m enslaved in this jail. My life is not in my hands.”
She also claimed that: “I have been here ever since, for more than a year in solitary confinement. No access to medical help, no trial, no charge, nothing”. According to the BBC, she was able to record the messages using a mobile phone “she was secretly given about a year after her capture” and that she managed to record several videos over a period of several months. The Guardian reported that Princess Latifa’s closest friends have not heard from her in “six months”. On 19 February, the United Nations human rights office said that it had approached United Arab Emirates (UAE) officials in response to the claims. “We raised our concerns about the situation in light of the disturbing video evidence that emerged this week,” said Liz Throssell, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. They have also asked the UAE to provide proof that the princess is still alive.
Italy’s New Prime Minister Officially Appointed Sam Kimbley Staff Writer Former president of the European Central Bank (ECB) Mario Draghi was sworn in to be Italy’s’ 30th prime minister this month, officially appointed by President Sergio Mattarella on 13 February in Rome. Previous prime minister ,Giuseppe Conte, resigned after losing support from the Italia Viva party, a small but critical part of Conte’s government coalition. Matteo Renzi head of the Italia Viva party, left the ruling coalition criticising Conte’s plans to spend the 200 billion euros (£172 Billion) Italy is set to receive from the EU Covid recovery fund. Draghi doesn’t have any domestic political experience but is entering his prime minister role with a substantial majority after gaining approval from Italy’s two largest political parties. Draghi is also joining the Italian political arena with a high public approval rating. Prime Minister Draghi has a respected history in his tenure at the ECB, credited as one of the important actors in resolving the Eurozone’s single currency’s considerable problems. Famously saying the ECB would do “whatever it takes” to save the Euro, which sent a clear
message to markets that were launching speculative attacks against countries using the Euro. Draghi will be entering a poor economic situation because despite being one of the largest economies in the Eurozone, Italy’s GDP contracted by 8.9%; Italy also has the second-largest amount of public debt. The new prime minister’s appointment provided some good economic news as it shrank borrowing costs to the lowest it has been for six years. In entering politics at this stage, it’s clear, according to sources that include analysts like Erik Jones, that Draghi will face many challenges, as the Italian Domestic politics are very different from the “topdown” approach of the ECB. Italy is also facing a largescale health crisis, much like many countries currently due to the global pandemic, with Italy presently having one of the highest Covid death rates in Europe (155 deaths per 100,000 people.) The health crisis will be the number one priority for the new president, according to sources at Euronews. As Draghi says, he will “fight the pandemic by all means and safeguard the lives of citizens”, a new era dawns in Italy.
Tiina Jauhiainen US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the BBC he would look into the case, stating: “We take human rights seriously, we will closely monitor the situation. Across the board, with adversaries, competitors, with partners and allies alike... we take human rights seriously and the president has put it at the heart of our foreign policy and countries can expect us to follow through on that.” Prime Minister British Boris Johnson has said that he is
“concerned” for Latifa, while Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, said that he found the videos “very troubling”. Johnson said the UK would continue to monitor the UN investigation. He said, “I think what we’ll do is wait and see how they get on. We’ll keep an eye on that”. Supporters of the Princess have launched a campaign, FreeLatifa, which is urging the United Nations to mount an extensive investigation into her welfare. The campaign said, “it is now critically urgent that an independent team from the United Nations travel to Dubai and be able to visit Latifa immediately, and that they insist that Latifa is brought to safety in a country of her choosing”. The Dubai Royal Family responded with this statement: “in response to media reports regarding Sheikha Latifa, we want to thank those who have expressed concern for her wellbeing, despite the coverage which certainly is not reflective of the
actual position.” “Her family has confirmed that Her Highness is being cared for at home, supported by her family and medical professionals.” The daughter of the King of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has only been seen once in public since she attempted to flee Dubai in February 2018. Days after leaving Dubai on a jet ski, the princess was captured and flown back to Dubai, where she has remained ever since. Her family claim that she was brought back as part of a “rescue mission”. In 2020, a UK family court accepted that her father had forcibly returned Princess Latifa to Dubai twice. When asked if the footage will make the UK consider imposing sanctions on Dubai, Dominic Raab said: “It’s not clear to me that there would be the evidence to support that.”
NATO announces training mission expansion in Iraq Matteo Marchionni NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced on 18 February that the alliance will be heavily incrementing its military presence in Iraq. “The size of our mission will increase from 500 personnel to around 4,000 and training activities will now include more Iraqi security institutions and areas beyond Baghdad”, Stoltenberg said. The deployment of such troops will be incremental, though no deadline was given for when to expect the mission to be completed. Stoltenberg added that this move is one which comes at the request of Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, with the purpose of aiding the ongoing fight against terrorism in the country, in particular to ensure that Islamic State (IS) does not resurge given its recent activity. On 21 January, the terrorist organization launched an attack in Iraq’s commercial area for the first time in the last three years; a twin suicide bombing in Baghdad’s Tayaran Square, which killed 32 people and injured at least 110. NATO’s training mission, initially confined within Iraq’s cap-
NATO ital city, was launched in 2018 to help the country develop new military schools and academies for its armed forces. However, it was temporarily suspended in January 2020 by the Iraqi parliament, when Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani, was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad. Lloyd Austin, the United States’ Secretary of Defence, welcomed NATO’s decision. He reaffirmed the importance of countering terrorism in the region, citing the recent rocket attack in Iraq’s northern city of Erbil by an Iran-backed militia. The U.S. is also involved in Iraq with its own mission, namely the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve. Con-
trary to the NATO assignment, which exists for training purposes, the United States counts about 2,500 of its own troops in Iraq. For the time being, no public comments have been made by figures who usually voice their concerns about Western intervention in Iraq, such as Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. On one hand, NATO’s personnel increase seems necessary to ensure Iraq’s security and try to prevent a comeback of IS. On the other hand, it is a testament to how much the West is struggling to disengage from the war on terror it initiated two decades ago.
The Badger 1st March 2021
News Where You’re Not
Grace Curtis, News Sub-Editor, reviews some of the big stories from across the country
Liverpool – Man offered vaccine after being mistakenly given a BMI of 28,000
Glasgow - New plan to build Nelson Mandela statue
Liam Thorp, 32, was surprised when he got an invitation from his GP for the Covid-19 vaccine. He did not think he was eligible yet, due to his age and having no underlying health conditions. When he called up to inquire, he was informed that he was morbidly clinically obese with a BMI of 28,000. How was the mistake made? His height had been written down as 6.2cm instead of 6ft 2 inches! For reference, a BMI of 40 or above is considered obese. Liam told The Echo, “If I had been less stunned, I would have asked why no one was more concerned that a man of these remarkable dimensions was slithering around south Liverpool.”
Wrexham, Wales - Welsh village finally “joins 21st century” with high-speed mobile broadband Glasgow
Wrexham villagers have finally been brought “into the 21st Century” after being provided with high-speed broadband. For years, residents lived with internet speeds of about 1MB per second, limited mobile phone signal and no 4G. Now, after mounting a campaign for improved communication, half of the village are connected. Villager Alison Bendall told the BBC: “Words can’t express really how wonderful it is to finally be connected.” Previously, Alison struggled to video call her grandchildren in England, but now she has access to lightning-fast speeds of more than 400MB per second.
Barry, Wales – “Heroic” teacher saves the day after Dad has a seizure during Zoom class Anthony Cannon-Jones, a Year 4 primary school teacher, described how he felt “utterly helpless” when a pupil’s father had a seizure during an online class. Cannon-Jones told the BBC that the boy’s face “turned ashen and he started shaking” when he realised his father had fallen. The headteacher of the primary school said that the teacher was “heroic” for his efforts to keep that class calm and help the family at the same time. As he lived 30-minutes away from the boy, Cannon-Jones was limited in how he could help. “First, I asked Rhys to remain calm. At this point I could hear dad in the background was having difficulties breathing.” He asked the pupil if he could call any family living nearby and informed the school to see if anyone was available to go to the boy’s home. “Then about five minutes later or so, the child came back on the video call to say dad was okay, they had managed to get him on the sofa, he was comfortable and was breathing normally.”
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The Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation, a charity dedicated to remembering Nelson Mandela, wants to renew the planning permission to build a permanent memorial of the former President of South Africa in Glasgow. The proposed site of the statue is ‘Nelson Mandela Place’ in the City Centre. The memorial would mark Mandela’s “connection with Glasgow”, which was the first city in the world to award him it’s ‘Freedom of the City’ in 1981, years before his release from prison. Mandela visited Glasgow in 1993 and thanked the Scottish city for refusing to “accept the legitimacy of the apartheid system”. More than £70,000 has been collected by the charity for the project so far.
Margate – Dreamland amusement park sold for £2.3 million
A historic amusement park in the seaside town of Margate has been sold for £2.3m. Dreamland was taken over in 2011 by Thanet District Council. The disused theme park and cinema has since been rebuilt. According to the BBC, the renovations required £8m invested by Margate the council and a further £11.4m from the government and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Council leader, Cllr Rick Everitt, said the transformation of the “derelict and unloved” site was a “major success story”.
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The Badger 1st March 2021
THE BIG DEBATE In The Big Debate this week, two writers debate whether a ‘free speech champion’ should be appointed by the government, or if it might cause more harm than good.
Yes Miranda Dunne Staff Writer “Where government fears freedom of expression they often try to shut down media and civil society, or clip their wings” orated then-home secretary Boris Johnson in 2017 as he announced £1m funding for global press freedom projects. Fast-forward to February 2020, journalists from outlets including The Guardian, the Daily Mail and the BBC boycotted a Brexit briefing after his government conducted a ‘sinister and sad’ selective ban on other media outlets not limited to the Huffington Post and the Independent. Three months later, a number of organisations for press freedom condemned Downing Street over its ‘banning’ of OpenDemocracy from its press conferences. Fast-forward again to 2021, journalist Andy Aitchison used the word ‘censorship’ to describe his arrest outside of a military base housing asylum seekers in Kent. No wonder the UK’s freedom of expression rating on a ranking by a human rights charity fell by 11 points in October, placing it behind all but one G7 countries. Ergo, there may be a hint of irony in Johnson’s Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announcing a ‘Free Speech Champion’ as part of a wider policy purportedly aimed at strengthening free speech at universities. Digressing, I would like to answer if we, as students, are being deprived of a free speech champion and if the underpinning reasoning adds up. In 2015, our students’ union made it into The Guardian after it ‘censored’ an article from The Badger Newspaper because ‘union officials were upset by an article about a student who [was] reported to be taking legal action against the university.’ Whilst the SU cited legislation and litigation avoidance, the editorial team proclaimed that independent legal advice confirmed their content was ‘legally sound.’ The team at the time insisted their editorial independence had been compromised. From that year to 2018, the USSU consistently earned a ‘red’ rating in a Free Speech University Ranking due to its ‘bann[ing] and actively censor[ing] ideas on campus.’ Looking at academic freedom more specifically, last year a study in the UK found that 50% of conservative academics said they self-censor and face a hostile environment for their beliefs. It found that the Left does not discriminate more than the Right, however, as universities tend to be overwhelmingly left leaning, discrimination against conservative ideas happens at a much higher rate.
No Hence we need to be cognizant of our own biases to ensure that the expression of beliefs are free from unjust consequences such as firing, cancel campaigns, and job discrimination. Quillette discussed the report, arguing: ‘Universities are not in a position to solve the problem on their own. Whereas threats to liberalism typically emerge from the state, there are different scenarios in which the state needs to step in to protect individual liberty—from mobs, illiberal pressure groups, or corrupt institutions.’ It doesn’t matter whether an act of stifling or compelling language seemingly benefits you, free speech is a parcel of which we cannot pick and choose the contents, unless very selectively. Some, interestingly, even argue for the abolishment of Hate Speech Laws, citing the net utility of being able to pin down truly harmful ideas and weed them out at the root. Moralistic calls for censorship used
Emma Norris As has become increasingly prominent in the political climate of recent years, there is a growingly blurred line between ‘free speech’ and ‘hate speech’. My fear is that, by specifically promoting unrestricted freedom of speech, with punishments for those institutions deemed to be blocking it, a culture of prejudice and hate crime may begin to flourish. Furthermore, ideas of free speech have also been seen to perpetrate a culture of fake news, particularly within the age of social media, as by allowing, in essence, a lack of restrictions on what one can say or post, it is natural that this will become a breeding ground for false information that has the ability to seriously harm society. To state that higher education institutions need a specific role in order to ensure freedom of speech implies, in my opinion, that this freedom is not something that is readily available at current, a position that I think is untrue.
Do Universities need a ‘free speech champion’? to come predominantly from the Right; strangely, it is the Left who has taken on this batton. We shouldn’t get complacent lest it come back to bite us in the future. We must defend the right to exchange ideas without harassment, bullying or threat of job loss - it’s not enough to be passive. We live in a freer society, but there are plenty demonstrating their contempt for this, whether that’s the government banning journalists, an SU stopping its own newspaper, the conflation of hated speech with hate speech, or language with violence. We should not assume that a burgeoning set of attitudes towards free speech will never prevail. It is clear that we - students and society - need a free speech champion and then some. However, I’ve already given the answer as to who that champion should be - from the journalist standing up for a counterpart of a non-politically aligned publication, to those defending viewpoint diversity regardless of which views they find palatable. A government tsar is not it. That a government official from an administration with poor track records when it comes to journalistic expression will have the best interests of free speech at its heart should be met with deep cynicism. The purported reasoning behind it, however, still stands. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Universities around the UK are renowned for their diversity in opinion, political standing and culture. Take the University of Sussex for example, which boasts a Conservative Society, Labour Society as well as societies for people of all different cultures and interests that, by and large, all act in harmony and with respect to each other. My fear is that, if this free speech is not deemed to be enough, then furthering it will encourage extremist or prejudiced beliefs and opinions, both on the left and right, to be bred. We run the risk that already oppressed minorities may experience further discrimination or isolation, as the opportunity for free speech allows for a chance to actively target these groups. This oppression can occur not just within the space of societies, but also in classes through both fellow students and staff. In a time in which minority groups are already struggling to exist in a space that is pitted against them, we should be doing all we can to support them, not furthering the risk of their isolation. With unrestricted freedom of speech comes the risk of the spread of fake news or extremist ideology. For example, the twitter account of previous US President Donald Trump. Although the account has now been removed, in the time of its existence it was frequently used to
spread false, misleading and ultimately harmful information to millions of users under the guise of free speech. This may be considered an extreme example but, when the president of one of the most powerful countries in the world is able to act in this manner, it sets the precedent to others that this is acceptable conduct. By actively encouraging complete free speech, we run the risk of fostering a culture of fake news within our university community. Fake news has proven to be detrimental to our society, especially in the era of Covid-19, and I think it is of vital importance that we take every measure to prevent its spread. The main argument for ‘free speech champions’, as reported in the Guardian, is to protect and maintain the history of the UK, with the idea that without free speech, major historical events may eventually be forgotten. However, I think this issue is often misinterpreted. It is not that we want to forget our history, but instead we simply don’t want to glorify a past that was ultimately fuelled by systematic discrimination and oppression.
With unrestricted freedom of speech comes the risk of the spread of fake news or extremist ideology. For example, the twitter account of previous US President Donald Trump. In Britain, we must begin to accept that our history is built upon empire and enslavement. While this should remain a part of discussions we have today, but I think it is wrong that the motion of free speech propels us to accept things such as statues or building names that place problematic historical figures on a pedestal within our society. History shouldn’t be forgotten but similarly, we shouldn’t be celebrating complex historical events, and my fear is that through ‘free speech champions’, the former may be encouraged. Ultimately, I am not stating that freedom of speech is a bad thing. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and beliefs and should feel comfortable to express them. However, there is a major worry that, through ‘free speech champions’, the concept of free speech may progress into something much more harmful, cultivating ideas of oppression against minority groups and the worry of a spread in fake news. This is a state that I don’t think we should be actively encouraging.
The Badger 1st March 2021
Should straight actors play gay characters?
Roxanna Wright Staff Writer
In the last decade, film and television has seen more LGBTQ+ roles than ever before. According to GLAAD, 10.2% of American Primetime television broadcast characters have been gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Furthermore, LGBTQ roles have become less generalised, less stereotypical and with a much more in-depth focus on their background, personal life and character. In the past, even up to the early 2000s, gay characters were dominantly represented as the effeminate ‘sidekick’ through the eyes of the heterosexual protagonist, with very little knowledge on their own lives, in particular their sex lives. Thankfully, in the last decade (especially the previous 5 years), LGBTQ characters in both film and television have broken out of the out-dated stereotypes, are now main characters in big productions, and have their love lives normalised without the heterosexual lens. Although this has been a massive breakthrough for the LGBTQ+ community, one argument which has sprung from this mass increase of representation is whether straight actors should play gay characters. The role of an actor/actress is to play a character or role which is not themselves. The point of acting is to present another person’s life other than their own. This is why it completely baffles me why this is an argument in the first place. If the actor’s own sexuality affected whether they got a role or not, isn’t that worse? Isn’t that what we, as a modern and progressive society, are trying to escape from? We should not be making decisions on careers based off of character traits which shouldn’t be deemed as important or deal-breakers. If this was true, then are atheist actors not allowed to play religious characters? Are actors who have not dealt with addiction not allowed to play a character battling with addiction? Even though actors may not have the same background or understanding of a trait that the role has, they should be able to learn about it. I believe that it is healthy for people to learn and gain an insight into people’s circumstances which we may not have experienced ourselves. For example, within the LGBTQ+ community the process of coming out to loved ones is of
Flickr course a big moment and their emotions and reactions to this can be extreme. It is important for heterosexual people, actors or the general public, to learn of their journey. That is what film and television is about after all; to entertain but to also inform. Therefore, I think it is beneficial that heterosexual actors step into the shoes of homosexual characters, to not only educate themselves, but find a new level of respect and emotive response for their journey and their lives. The male gaze, where the perspective of the camera/audience is from a straight male, has overly sexualised lesbianism in film and television for decades. As consumers, shots of homosexual interaction between women has become normalised for the benefits of straight men. Yet images of sexual activity between gay men on our screens is significantly lower. Maybe this is down to the dominantly male film/television writers and directors, or down to the mass homophobia throughout history. In our current (Western) society, male, gay sex scenes are being used more and more in films as each year passes. This progression into normalising the sex lives of gay men is extremely healthy, especially in the fight to destroy hypermasculinity. Hypermasculinity is a term used to describe the exaggeration of stereotypical male traits and behaviours, such as physical strength, bravery and power. A perfect representation of hypermasculinity is the 1950s husband, who would be the breadwinner of the family and would essentially ‘own’ his wife and
make decisions for her. This toxic ideology, which is still present to this day, is very damaging to the way men see and present themselves. If a male is emotional, effeminate or homosexual, they are believed to be less of a man. Today, countries all over the world are fighting this with movements and charities such as ‘Movember’ and the male mental health month (November), which encourages men to be open about their feelings, mental health issues and feel comfortable in their own skin. In relation to this, the increase representation of gay men and gay sex scenes in films normalises all different types of men and breaks these untrue, restrictive stereotypes. If straight actors were not allowed to play these gay characters, we will be keeping them in these old-fashioned ideals of toxic masculinity. We should be encouraging and praising male, heterosexual actors to be able to be comfortable enough in themselves and their own sexuality, to play a character of a different sexual orientation. For instance, let’s look at the 2015 film ‘The Danish Girl’, a fictional film based around the journey of the first transgender woman who underwent a sex-change operation. Eina, the main character, was played by Eddie Redmayne, a straight cismale actor. Redmayne’s portrayal of the transgender woman went on to be nominated for an Oscar in 2016. Furthermore, choosing an actor to play a specific role should be based on their portrayal and performance of them. For ex-
ample, in 2018, the hit film ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, based around the journey of both Freddie Mercury and the 1980s band ‘Queen’, straight actor Rami Malek played the famously homosexual Freddie Mercury. If sexuality was taken into consideration when choosing the actor to play Freddie Mercury then we may not have possibly got such a brilliant performance and presentation of Freddie in the film. Freddie Mercury is one of the most famous musicians in the world, who is famously ambitious, colourful and unique in many different ways. There were so many aspects to the late Mercury’s personality and presence, both on and off stage, he just also happened to be homosexual. Rami Malek was hired because of the both the physical likeness to Freddie Mercury, and his outstanding performance of him. He was chosen to play Freddie Mercury, not just a gay man. Rami Malek won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for the best actor in a leading role. Having said that, the film itself did get majorly criticised over the lack of scenes based around Freddie Mercury’s sexuality. The film was labelled as shying away, or being fearful, of Freddie’s sexuality as there was only 3 minutes, during the film, of homosexual scenes. On the other hand, one film which didn’t shy away from gay sex scenes was ‘Rocketman’, a depiction around Elton John’s life and music career. The film got a lot of praise from its multiple, explicit gay sex scenes, which has rarely been seen in cinema. In an interview with
the Guardian, Elton John stated that ‘some studios wanted to tone down the sex and drugs so the film would get a PG-13 rating. But I just haven’t led a PG13 rated life. I didn’t want a film packed with drugs and sex, but equally, everyone knows I had quite a lot of both during the 70s and 80s’. In this film, Elton John, and his manager/lover John Reid, were also both played by straight actors, Taron Egerton and Richard Madden. The argument on whether straight actors should play LGBTQ roles is understandable based on how Hollywood’s most famous actors are dominantly heterosexual, that it seems unjust that they are hired to play roles that they don’t fully understand themselves. However, if the roles were reversed and we did not allow homosexual actors to play straight roles, this would be seen as highly homophobic and wrong. Even though it is preferred that a gay role should be played by a gay actor, it should not be a strict rule. Actors entire careers are based around being able to convince an audience that they are a different person to themselves and playing a role who has a different sexual identity or orientation should be included in this. For instance, in the American Television series ‘How I Met Your Mother’, Barney Stinson, one of the five main characters, is a straight man who has been played by Neil Patrick Harris, a gay actor. The character Barney Stinson is a complete womaniser who has created a “playbook’’ full of pick-up lines, acts and scams to seduce women. However, the actor who played him (Neil Patrick Harris) is a homosexual man. I watched this series in my early teens and I was convinced of Barney’s character and I was shocked to find that the actor was not heterosexual. But instead of feeling negatively about this, I had a higher respect for Patrick Harris and his acting ability as he was able to convince me that he was heterosexual in the series. This should work both ways, we should be praising actors and actresses that are comfortable in themselves and their sexuality which has then allowed them to choose roles of people with a different sexual identity or orientation to their own.
The Badger 1st March 2021
Framing Britney Spears: Are We Really Listening? Paige Braithwaite Since her childhood roles in the Mickey Mouse Club and to her career as one of the world’s most famous pop stars, Britney Spears has always been a firm favourite of the paparazzi and public alike. She has gone from sudden global fame in her ‘Baby One More Time’ and ‘Toxic’ days to fascination and intrigue during her very public breakdown. The new ‘Framing Britney Spears’ documentary from the New York Times gives further insight into the life of Britney Spears, but the documentary is not without issues. The documentary traces us through her rise to fame and focuses on the controversial twelve year-long conservatorship she was placed under in 2008 after a period of mental health issues. The conservatorship takes legal control of financial assets, personal assets, and her estate, with her father as the sole conservator despite - as the documentary shows us - being markedly absent in much of his daughter’s early life. A pertinent
moment comes from a lawyer Adam Streisand who Britney was looking to appoint when her conservatorship was first being arranged. In his opinion Britney was making sound judgements and accepted the conservatorship was now unavoidable, but her single request was that an independent professional figure be the conservator – anyone but her father. To the public her conservatorship does appear confusing. Her career has remained strong and with conservatorships being reserved for people deemed incompetent in managing different matters themselves, Britney’s numerous tours, shows, albums and appearances on shows such as the X Factor do bring up huge questions on her supposed lack of capability. If she can engage in her career so successfully, it is astonishing this legal arrangement controlling so much of her life has lasted this long. We can of course never know all the details and the tight closed group of her family who all declined participation in the documentary, signpost how much we do
not truly know. From her early career and onwards we see Britney adamant at the role she has in own career and decisions within it, determined not to be viewed as a young woman dictated to by her managers. This is a heartbreaking contrast to how she is clearly treated later, dismissed by the people around her and in Britney’s own words “They hear me but they’re really not listening. They’re hearing what they want to hear…it’s bad and I’m sad.” Has Britney been let down by her family or by the legal system? Is this a misunderstanding of mental health issues and would this have happened to a male celebrity? All these questions go through your mind when learning this story. As well as the unique situation of Britney’s conservatorship, the documentary unveils the sexism in the media, which so many female celebrities are subjected to. There is uncomfortable viewing where we witness a younger Britney being questioned about potential breast implants and her sex life.
While on the one hand she was lauded for her iconic ‘Baby One More Time’ music video, she was also hounded for her image and branded a bad role model. A particularly shocking interview shows Britney being told that the wife of a former state governor said “really, if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would”, before Britney becomes visibly upset. The viewing is a strong reminder of how often it is forgotten that there are real young women behind the celebrity names. Much of the humanity in the documentary comes from Britney’s former assistant Felicia Culotta who comes across emotionally invested in Britney’s life and situation. She has great hope for Britney to tell her own story and this moment was particularly poignant; making us question ourselves for the role we play in rumours, media crazes and fascinations with celebrities. The paparazzi and media have been relentless in pursuing Britney for much of her life and we must ask ourselves if documentaries such as
this can be problematic in themselves. It has no doubt reignited important conversations about mental health and how celebrities are treated, as well as showing the deplorable sexism from the media. But can we not have these conversations without the vulnerabilities of Britney’s life being pulled out for consumption all over again? Especially when we can never have all the facts on Britney’s experience. By hopping onto the #freebritney bandwagon we might risk merely fuelling the pattern of obsession and frenzy surrounding her life. Britney’s story is an important one, but when the most essential voice – Britney’s own - is left out of it, there must be caution on who gets to tell these stories and why. I for one, am with her former assistant: I hope one day Britney Spears is able to tell her own story and should she wish to do so, shed light on an eventful life and career filled with trouble and pain, as well as such stardom and adoration.
Puppy Love? A dog is for life, not just for Coronavirus. Libby Mills Comment Online Sub-Editor Somehow it’s been nearly a year since the UK saw itself facing it’s first ever national lockdown. Several lockdowns later...we still seem to be in one. It’s been 12 months of great difficulty, with families losing loved ones but not always being able to say their goodbyes. With the collective stress and grief we’ve all experienced to varying degrees this past year, it doesn’t come as a surprise that man’s best friend has become high in demand. Dogs have been our trusted companions for centuries and offer vital aid such as within the police force, as guide dogs or as emotional support pets. Studies have explored the relationship between having a dog and the benefits it can provide its owner/s physically, socially and psychologically. So in the midst of a global pandemic, it makes sense as to why in August 2020 the Kennel Club found that 1 in 4 people within the UK had admitted to buying a puppy on impulse. Of course the truth is, the initial pull to buy a pandemic puppy isn’t the physical, social or psychological benefits - but that they are simply cute. Many dedicated dog-lovers would say
John Voo the initial cuteness of the puppy never fades as they become fully grown. However, for the new generation of impulse owners this cuteness is suddenly met with the very real reality of the responsibilities required in order to properly take care of their new addition. As the working world went from rush hour to #wfh, suddenly commuters found themselves with more than a minute to spare. With working from home also having been proven to enhance productivity, many families and individuals found themselves being at home with more time on their hands than
ever before. However, although no one could foresee how long the UK would find themselves facing lockdowns, a pandemic is temporary - a dog is not. With the average lifespan of a dog said to be between 10-13 years, a dog is a commitment for a large chunk of your own life. The BBC spoke to Joanne Doonan, an experienced dog trainer, who had shared how she has been inundated with puppy training requests with this being her busiest year yet as a trainer. However, she warned that the crucial socialisation window for puppies is between 3-14 weeks, which many new dog owners are
just simply not aware of. Animal rehoming charities including Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs and Cats and the RSPCA, who usually face struggles on a yearly basis anyway, have shared their worries over the number of dogs that have come to their centres over the past few months. With Dogs Trust receiving 114 calls just between December 27 and 28. However, it hasn’t just been the pandemic that has seen the dog-breeding industry boom. As the price of dogs has increased over the past few years, with cross-breeds and so-called designer dogs becoming ever more popular, so has the amount of puppy farms and irresponsible breeding. What some individuals may see as a much beloved pet, others see as a pay cheque. In 2016 presenter and author Grace Victory investigated ‘The Cost of Cute: The Dark Side of the Puppy Trade’. The documentary explored the disturbing conditions of puppy farms, the smuggling and the extent to which the breeders would go to in order to create the appearance of a reliable breeder. Where individuals were shown to portray a trusted breeder within a faux-family home, used specifically to show puppies to
interested buyers - often without the mother being available to be seen or a different female dog being brought in to appear to be the litter’s mother. So what does the reality look like for these pandemic puppies? For some it’s being abandoned. With the RSPCA having recently shared stories of dogs or young puppies being tied up to lamp posts, until other walkers realise they have been left there with intent to be abandoned by their owners. For others it will be them being handed over to rehoming centres. With 2019 seeing the RSPCA take in 10,564 dogs in England and Wales alone. But with Battersea Dogs and Cats putting down 24% of their dogs in 2014, the reality for the pandemic puppies could be a lot more sinister. Before investing in a potential new best friend, the Kennel Club has started a new campaign #BePuppyWise, where they break down the key steps to ask yourself before inviting a new addition into the family. It’s undeniable how much joy dogs can bring, but it’s vital to remember the time and energy required in order to provide them with a stable home - after all, a dog is for life, not just Coronavirus.
The Badger 1st March 2021
Football governing bodies need to step up or step down Charlie Batten Sports Print Editor After Greg Clarke’s resignation from the Football Association last November due to “unacceptable” language the same question arose again. Why are football’s governing bodies seemingly so useless? For as long as I’ve been alive the beautiful game has always been stained by one thing, the beautiful game’s governing bodies. Whether it be FIFA, UEFA, the FA, or any of the other organisations, whenever I see them in the headlines it is for all the wrong reasons. A prime example of this is with former CONCAF president and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner. Warner came into power of CONCAF in 1990, which is the football association for North America, Central America as well as the Caribbean, and his time there was marred with allegations of corruption. In 2011 a video surfaced which clearly showed him telling members of his football federation to take bribes from Mohammed Bin Hammam who was attempting to run for FIFA president. Warner even told the members that if they didn’t want to take the bribes due to their “conscious” they could simply give it back to him.
albinfo The now-former president was eventually forced to resign from his position due to the video leak and as well as other accusations of corruption. These included allegedly receiving $10 million in bribes to ensure South Africa hosted the 2010 World Cup and allegedly $40 million that was meant to go towards victims of the Haiti earthquake being found in his personal account. Of course, Jack Warner isn’t the only member of FIFA’s higher-ups to be caught doing dodgy dealings as the most well-known is former president Sepp Blatter. Since he came into power in 1998, Blatter’s tenure has been marred with rumours of backroom dealings and unfair decisions, most obviously with the
allocation of World Cups. As I’ve already said, the South Africa campaign to host the World Cup in 2010 has been accused of using bribes to secure votes and so has the awarding of World Cups to Russia and Qatar. You’d be forgiven for being surprised when Qatar got the 2022 World Cup when you think that the country has a terrible human rights record, a national team that has never even qualified for the World Cup and the fact it has such hot summers that the tournament will have to be played in the winter which will cause havoc in the scheduling for football leagues across the globe. Mr Blatter has also been criticised for many comments he’s made during his tenure of FIFA
president such as believing there being foreign “over-representation” in club football and that gay fans should simply “refrain from sexual activity” whilst in Qatar as homosexuality is illegal there. One of the strangest moves he made whilst president was sanctioning the creation of a movie about how he became FIFA’s leader in order to almost convince everyone he’s a nice guy who likes a bit of footy just like everyone else. At the global level, football’s governing bodies have seemingly harboured various money-hungry, self-centred crooks only out for themselves in order to become rich off of the world’s game. Luckily, the English FA has managed to stay away from large-scale corruption and instead of being run by alleged criminals is run by apparent idiots. It’s not so much the actions that the FA take that cause national humiliation but rather their lack of sense. Recently resigned head of FA Greg Clarke is the prime example of this as during a hearing with the department of digital, culture, media and sport referred to BAME footballers as “coloured people”, said a gay footballer’s decision on whether to come out was a “life choice”, that “young female players did not like having the
ball hit hard at them” and suggested that “different career interests” led South Asian people to choose careers in IT over sport.
One of the strangest moves he made whilst president was sanctioning the creation of a movie about how he became FIFA’s leader in order to almost convince everyone he’s a nice guy who likes a bit of footy just like everyone else. These racially insensitive comments perfectly summarise how out of touch the FA has become. The only way to fix football’s governing bodies is to put leaders in place who aren’t just out for themselves or the money but are there to help the game grow and succeed. On a large scale, leaders need to be put in place who have run successful clubs or smaller footballing organisations. On a smaller scale, more people in the FA and FIFA need to be ex-players and coaches who know the world of football the best so they know what it needs to succeed. Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner have denied all accusations of fraud, malpractice during their time as members of FIFA and other footballing organisations.
Modern Eugenics are happening and we’re not paying attention Georgia Shakeshaft Alongside the fear and frustration felt by most at the start of the pandemic, for disabled people, there were inklings of hope that this could be the start of something better. We saw accessibility that we’d been fighting for, such as flexible working and remote access, suddenly happen overnight. With our non-disabled peers now housebound or unable to do things they loved due to the national lockdown, we clung to optimism that we’d be empathised with at long last. Perhaps issues affecting the disabled community would receive the attention they have sorely deserved. Unfortunately, the hope and community consideration didn’t last long until resolving boredom topped our lives on the priority list for many. The transition also wasn’t quiet. Beaches, brunches and beers plastered on Instagram stories. Morn-
ing news programmes regularly weigh up vulnerable people’s lives and the local hairdresser or pub’s re-opening. Thousands of tweets and headlines about ‘getting on with our lives’ and throw the dying and unproductive to the wolves. Being reminded how little your life as a disabled person is worth to your community, and even your friends became inescapable. A year on from the start of the pandemic, recent ONS figures have stated that 60% of COVID-19 deaths in the UK were disabled people, and the only outrage I’ve seen has been from our community. I want to clarify that I’m aware the government is responsible for the pandemic’s mass death through horrific management. Disabled people are tragically aware that our Conservative government has never cared about our lives and needs. You can read in Dr Frances Ryan’s book ‘Crippled’ about how the effects of austerity have left disabled people sleeping in their wheelchairs, living off of
cereal in cold homes, pursuing risky methods of income and remaining in unsafe situations due to the lack of social care funding and accessibility of support. In 2019, the UN said that the conservatives’ policy of austerity was a violation of disabled peoples’ human rights. Even in the pandemic, shortages of PPE for personal assistants, the pausing of shielding and having to fight for vaccinations show that disabled people are dying the way that a lot of us have lived – ignored. What wasn’t expected and is most heart-breaking of all is watching our communities sacrifice us the way the government has. After the student outrage at Sussex when the Student Union announced they thought the university should close its doors to protect students, I found myself defending my existence to my peers in the comments section who found my vulnerability an inconvenience. I truly understand that this experience has been a collec-
tive trauma for all – we’re missing people, we’re financially and mentally struggling, enveloped in uncertainty and pressure. However, your needs are our needs too; 7 in 10 disabled people have lost income in the pandemic (Scope); we are sick of the same four walls and can’t wait to laugh and hug our friends. Your life is not worth more than ours even though you can’t see us. We’re exhausted from justifying to people with whom we work and study why we deserve to live and why our mental health suffering from isolation matters too. Some disabled people on social media have posted about preparing packs should they be admitted to the hospital that outlines the people who love and will miss them to avoid the forced DNRs being imposed on so many. We are watching eugenics happen before our eyes and seem to be the only ones paying attention to our death. We’ve watched our friends and co-workers become eugenicists in the name
of a good time. Disabled people are everywhere; most of us you won’t see because of the narrow impression you’ve been given of what ‘disabled’ looks like. Disabled people are some of the most adaptable, creative and resilient people I know because we’ve had to be. We do incredible things and deserve to be here just as much as you. But even if all a disabled person did this week was lie in bed - no person’s capitalist contribution to society should be the measure of if they deserve to live or not. I never want to hear ‘they were going to die soon anyway’ again like any death is somehow acceptable because disabled people look like the 72-year-old man in a wheelchair with a heart condition, and they also look like your 22-year-old friend with Lupus. I’m begging you to help us live – wear a mask, keep your distance, be mindful with your words and urge the government to protect us.
The Badger 1st March 2021
The Virtual World of Practical Subjects Features Sub-Editor Maisie Thorman discussess the obstacles faced by students in remote learning
he monotony of zoom learning would test the patience of even the most amicable student. However, for those who have opted for a more practical course, online teaching is rife with complexities. With university students denied access to campus facilities and equipment during lockdown, there are many struggling to adapt in these unprecedented times. Initially I had very little quarrel with virtual classes. After easing the lockdown blues with a cheap bottle of red, being able to watch my lectures the following morning from the swaddling comfort of my own bed was an undeniable godsend on more than one occasion! However, I swiftly fell out of routine and discovered I was losing that drive and passion I had prided myself on for so many years. Now I find myself longing for that awkward amalgamation of nervousness and excitement I would experience before stepping into the Silverstone Building for a 3 hour lighting workshop (where I would undoubtedly proceed to embarrass myself over some technical indiscretion.) Recently, I have been struggling to really engage with these weekly online workshops; succumbing to the dreaded ‘zoom fatigue.’ The Psychiatric Times has identified audio as one of the key contributors to this virtual virus, suggesting that “the millisecond delays in virtual verbal responses negatively affect our interpersonal perceptions, even without any internet or technical issues.”
Henry Söderlund- Flickr busy it is unfortunately inevitable that there are situations where I’m trying to contribute to seminars whilst being climbed on by my 3 year old boy. The blurring of lines between work and home life can be really upsetting as I’m having to tell my boys that I’m busy when all they want to do is play with their dad like any kid would.” Final year Sports and Exercise Science student Clavin Smith echoed my own concern stating that he believes the hardest part of online learning to be “maintaining discipline, especially to watch asynchronous lectures.” For Calvin the inability to attend in person
to note that they too are feeling the impacts of Lockdown. Calvin has personally acknowledged “a decline in standard of teaching” at the university since a shift to online teaching and he is not alone in his opinion.
There is little revelation in the proposition that the students feel there should be some form of compensation for almost a year’s worth of virtual learning Louis Robinson gave a similar response, however reassured that
“The reality is that despite our tutors best efforts through instructions and screen sharing, online teaching just doesn’t offer the same experience” Father and second year journalism student Louis Robinson has found being limited to his phone and laptop as a means of gathering material “particularly difficult.” “Online learning has also made learning to use editing software such as Adobe Audition or Premiere Pro particularly difficult. The reality is that despite our tutors best efforts through instructions and screen sharing, online teaching just doesn’t offer the same experience as a tutor over my shoulder to guide me and help me” As a parent, Louis has found the most challenging aspect of learning online to be maintaining the delicate balance between his studies and family life. With two “beautiful but testing boys” to care for and no campus facilities to retreat to for some essential solitary respite, getting through the assessment period has been “extremely tough to say the least.” “When me and my partner are both
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lab sessions he regards as “extremely beneficial to learning” has been extremely detrimental to his studies. Whilst many tutors continue to make valiant efforts to boost group morale, introducing the majority of sessions with the dreaded ‘so how are you coping?’ question; It is essential
this is of “not through lack of effort on the tutors part. On one occasion it may be bandwidth issues, next it may be confusion with zoom invites, next it may be particular students switching off mics and cameras leaving me to talk to myself in a breakout room and the list goes on.” Another student who has been
particularly disadvantaged as a result of the shift to online learning is final year journalism student Alana Harris, who was in the midst of vital work experience when the pandemic first shook the UK. “Gaining hands on experience is essential for getting into the career area I want to, so much so that one of my second year modules was dedicated to getting work experience. However because of COVID, I only ended up being able to get one week of hands on experience rather than three The pandemic cutting my work experience short, and preventing me from getting any outside of the university since then has felt pretty detrimental, especially as I’ll be finishing university in a couple of months but haven’t been able to get anywhere close to the amount of in the field experience I would have liked before attempting to enter the world of work.” There is little revelation in the proposition that the students feel there should be some form of compensation for almost a year’s worth of virtual learning. As a journalism student, accustoming myself with recording equipment and working in the campus newsroom are experiences I deem to be totally irreclicable in an online environment.
The harsh and deflating reality is many students could have secured similar qualifications attending an online institution for a fraction of the price. The harsh and def lating reality is many students could have secured similar qualifications attending an online institution for a fraction of the price. Yet despite this understanding a petition that amassed over 170,600 signatures, suggesting that tuition fees be lowered through this period of online learning was met with little empathy from politicians. The petition was debated at Parliament in November last year and received the following response“Universities are responsible for setting their own fees. Any lowering of fees would be their decision. Government is not considering a temporary change to fee limits or a programme of refunds.” Despite the inherent moroseness of the present situation, there is now a faint glimmer of hope, signifying a possible end to the slump of online learning. With the beloved Prime Minister set to announce a “roadmap” out of lockdown, I am reinvigorated with what some may consider premature optimism; with the prospect of mingling with real people, in real life carrying me through these remaining months.
The Badger 1st March 2021
Elephant in the Zoom Staff writers Ellie Harbinson and Andreas Lange explore why Sussex Uni’s test centres appear empty
rriving back to University, I approached the sports centre with grave trepidation, after joining the great surge of students utilising the centre in December, I wrapped up in my bobble hat and puffer jacket expecting to wait alongside other students in the bracing cold queues outside. However, I was surprised to stroll straight through the automatic doors and directly into the sports hall. This was a wholly different experience than my first test, in fact it wasn’t even comparable to the chaos of Christmas. Unlike the queues snaking out of the centre in December, the site was empty, and I was left pondering this eery absence of testers. So why the sudden decrease in students using the test site? Of course, students have stayed home due to the current lockdown but there are still plenty of residents on campus with access to 2 free tests a week. I was interested in investigating why students’ attitudes towards the test site have possibly changed or if students aren’t aware of the regular testing the facility offers.
University of Sussex are currently offering those who test regularly an entrance into a weekly prize draw where they can win £25 worth of vouchers to encourage more students to go get tested Reaching out to a spokesperson from the University of Sussex who told me on email that “Because of the latest Covid-19 lockdown, there haven’t been as many students and staff on campus through January and February as there were in the autumn term – which means the number of bookings for our test site in the Sport Centre has been
“we have very low numbers of people coming in atm. I think this is because the lockdown has been ongoing for a while now and I think generally people are sticking to it more so therefore there is less of a requirement to get tested.” furthermore suggesting that “Maybe the students feel as though they are staying at home more so don’t want to get the test?” before she shares an observation in that “I guess it’s a good thing that we’re not extremely busy”. Source: https://www.brighton-hove. gov.uk/covid-19-key-statistics-brighton-hove/confirmed-case-rate-trend
David Hatch - Wikimedia Comms tested. However, despite regular updates through email, social media and leaf lets regarding the regular Covid 19 testing on campus, when speaking to a student on campus it became clear that many students apparently are not aware of the regular free testing offered at the sports centre for Sussex students and staff. First year journalism student at the University of Sussex, 19 year old Katya Brooke, living on campus stated that she “was unaware that testing for students on campus operated that often’’. Furthermore emphasising on how “it hasn’t exactly been advertised as much as it perhaps should be.” Katya also had “zero knowledge” on the weekly £25 prize draw and stated that “If this was publicised clearer around campus, maybe then more students would get tested”. Although she admits; “I doubt it would cause a massive surge in testing amongst University students.”. My collaborator Andreas Lange was intrigued by my findings and started digging further into other possible reasons as to why students were getting tested, here is what Andreas found:
It became clear that many students apparently are not aware of the regular free testing
Tami Stainfield - Flickr lower than in December.” Furthermore explaining that “We want all students and staff and our local community to stay safe, so we’re doing everything we can to encourage those people who are on campus to get a Covid-19 test”. University of Sussex are currently offering those who test regularly an entrance into a weekly prize draw where they can win £25 worth of vouchers to encourage more students to go get
I asked International student from New Zealand, 30year old Kieran Moloney, about what he thought of the initiative to win vouchers worth £25, and he told me over the phone that “I’m probably the wrong person to ask that, cause anything that have to do with like ‘you can win this’ or ‘you can win that’, I’m always like, what are the odds?” Before continuing with saying that “I can see what they are trying to do, but whether or not it’s actually useful.. probably not”. When it comes to attitudes towards testing, Kieran, being an avid rugby
player while doing his first year at Criminology and Sociology, told me about some of the talk he heard across the field during training last semester. “A lot of the guys there you know, they are a lot younger and just the con-
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versations they were bangin on around the field and stuff. About parties and ‘this person got covid’ or ‘I don’t care though that police come and shut down our thing, that’s alright we’ll just move on down the street, just watch for Facebook notifications.’ They don’t care, so I highly highly doubt that they will be making sure they are up to date with their testings if they feel impolictic.” So when I asked Kieran if he thought that most Sussex students would adhere to the University’s recommendation, found on Student Hub, that says “Regular testing should be carried out every 3-5 days and the highest recommended frequency is one test every three days.”. I wasn’t surprised when hearing Kierans’ reply; “Ah hell no.” Currently working on a covid testing site while doing her final year in Geography with International Development, 21year old Cydney Thorton texted me on whatsapp to say that
We are seemingly descending the mountain of covid 19 cases that built up in Brighton & Hove between christmas and new years, with the latest February 18th update from the government showing that in Brighton & Hove, the number of Covid-19 cases dropped 43% in the seven days leading up to February 12th, compared to the previous week. But what can be done in attracting more students to get tested? Kieran makes an interesting remark relating to his own background in sports prior to the second national lockdown in regards to what he and his teammates would have to do, in order to be allowed to train. “So if you’re a person wanting to go to training and stuff, if you had the symptoms, and you couldn’t train anymore, then you would definitely go and get a test to be able to get back to playing footy.” pausing for a bit before continuing,“But if you weren’t a person that was involved with sports, if you didn’t really have any reason to be going and getting tested.. to try and hook those and to get them to be tested is quite tricky.” As I walked past the sports centre, making my way to Stanmer Park, I couldn’t help but think about mine and Andreas’ findings and the different perspectives of the individuals we’d spoken too. I still couldn’t grasp whether it was a positive thing that the test centre is emptier now more than ever, perhaps, as Cydney suggested students are adhering to the rules and the campus is safer because of this. However, when hearing Kierans exclamations after being asked whether students would willingly test regularly as well as Katya’s doubt in the prize draw initiative, I’m unsure. It almost feels as if students are uncertain about how regular testing will benefit them if they already feel safe within their bubbles on campus. The students and staff at the test centre are working incredibly hard to ensure the University is as safe as it possibly can be and I’m hopeful that individuals will begin to utilise the facility as more students return back to campus in the upcoming month.
The Badger 1st March 2021
Sitting Down With Senior Microsoft Manager Print Production Editor Ellie Doughty and Hugh Milward discuss all things COVID, AI and Remote Life
ugh Milward, former Senior Director and current General Manager for Corporate, External and Legal Affairs at Microsoft UK sat down with me this past week for an exclusive Badger interview. We discussed the effect the pandemic had on Microsoft and the tech industry, as well as navigating the challenges of remote working and education. Hi Hugh, thank you for joining me today! I’d like to start by asking about the initial changes Microsoft took at the beginning of the pandemic.
Can you talk us through the initial shift Microsoft made when the pandemic hit? Were you prepared? Hi Ellie, no problem! Yes, of course. It’s interesting because the work we did in preparation for Brexit was surprisingly helpful in terms of crisis planning around COVID. We had standing arrangements for bringing together parts of the business around crisis and continuity, like our continuity team already established with representatives from different parts of the business. Effectively we had a modus operandi, so we had principles for the way in which we would handle it already well established and well used. As we shifted towards COVID, it was actually very easy, very straightforward. It just ensured we had different people from HR, operations, finance, communications, all of the different aspects being managed coherently.
Do you think we as a society will spend more time working from home and connecting online ‘after’ the pandemic, and take some of our COVID life habits with us? I think that the case for f lexible working has now been made. Board rooms and management teams across the country now recognise that when you’re working remotely, it’s not a duvet day. It can actually be incredibly productive. The way in which we run anonymised workplace analytics on our own systems, we can see that people working from home are actually more productive than people who are commuting to the office. So you’ve kind of got an environment where there is a cultural shift towards an acceptance of working differently. One of the things we’ve found and conducted a good amount of research on is the competition for talented staff is stronger than ever. In this rebuild after COVID, the best employees will be able to essentially make demands of their employer. It’s really clear that people like the f lexibility to work as and where they want, when they want. And so companies that are going to be most successful are those companies
who understand what their staff want and respond to that. Increasingly what that means is that you optimize the place of work for the kind of work that needs to be done. I think that’s going to be an interesting management challenge for business, but the results are going to be very interesting in terms of Britain’s productivity. Ultimately giving your workforce that kind of f lexibility is a signal of trust, and managing by outcome over input or activity.
How do you think the great reliance on good technology this past year has been in terms of hitting different groups in society? Is it an equaliser or a catalyst for exclusion, especially when thinking of those who are completely without access? I think both. You can look at it from a national or international perspective. What we’ve seen is around two years (and more) of digital transformation in just two months at the beginning of this pandemic. We certainly had big customers who were planning on their move to the cloud, and dipping their toe in the water with maybe a trial of 2000 users, and then the pandemic hit and they said ‘You know what? We’re gonna put all 120,000 users in the cloud’. And then they’re reaping the benefits that come from that. So there is a significant benefit for the way in which the economy operates. You’ve got what have been the real lag guards in terms of digitisation, suddenly embracing the opportunity that digital presents. Of course then that means you have to have users with an equal level of digital transformation, we’ve seen horrendous challenges of families where the only device is a mobile phone on which kids are expected to do their school work and it’s just impossible. Equally where you’ve got two years of digitisation in only two months, then the people who are not digitising have just taken a two year step backward compared with those at the head of it. So you do have this real challenge that in certain parts of societies specific issues are holding people back from embracing the opportunity of technology. Part of that is the cost of a device. That cost comes down all the time, and you can get a brand new device on which you can do all of the things you need to complete homework for between £80 and £120. So the cost can be very low, it’s a question of whether people want to, or are able to prioritise that cost. When you’ve got the device then there is the broadband connection you need, which is a real challenge. High speed broadband connection is a very real and ongoing cost for families. And then there’s the skills
people may need in order to use it. Quite often the skills you need to operate it are only available once you can use the device. I do think there’s a role for companies to play in this, particularly about how do you deal with the initial motivation for people to climb the mountain so to speak. But we are thinking about this from a very first world perspective here. Think about the challenge that we had at the beginning of this lockdown shortly after Christmas, where kids were expected to learn from home and didn’t have devices. In my family we have four kids, and you really need a device for each of them. If you have a shared device for a whole family you can’t really achieve the same sort of outcomes. But then think about huge parts of China, India and sub-saharan Africa where you might have a single device for a whole village. Asking the developed world to lean in and donate devices to extremely wealthy countries like the UK really ignores the whole of the developing world where there is just as much benefit to be had from that kind of pace of digitisation. If this is the case we need to examine our priorities and work out whether we’re going about this in the right way, rather than too much of a paroquial and narrow perspective about supporting ourselves.
In your opinion, can online learning be as good, or a good substitute, for in person teaching? I think it depends on what level of learning. For nursery and primary, it’s very very challenging to deliver effective online learning. When you get up to tertiary education, then I think it’s much easier. I find it baff ling that student’s have as little collaboration between different Universities and departments as you currently do. There is an opportunity for more of a collaborative, MOOC-type approach to learning which is tremendous. For example, there are niche subjects, with singular expert lecturers delivering a very detailed topic lecture which is shared across British universities. So academics do have the opportunity to reach a far broader audience, but it also allows the Universities to focus on the in-person side, with more focus on tutorials, seminars and smaller groups. It also gives them more time to focus on research, as opposed to this massive scale duplication where you have departments UK wide doing the same thing across the country. It would create more opportunity for things like f lip classroom learning also. I also think that post 16 there’s an opportunity to do things differently, up to 16 education is mandatory, you have to have kids in school. If you’re relying on them to be a bit more self-
guided and independent in how they learn, that is going to be a tremendous challenge for people with no interest or motivation for education. The point where you get to 16 and people are choosing to continue formal education in a school environment, and despite the fact that we have formal learning up to 18, it is still an individual’s choice whether or not they do A-Levels. And that choice can be made slightly differently if there’s a different expectation of how they will be self driven in the way that they learn. The short answer to your question is there is less opportunity for effective online learning pre-16 and more post-16. The Microsoft UK website details some interesting AI (artificial intelligence) news. One platform is using AI to power genome analysis which could help speed up development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatment. What’s your experience and opinion of AI expansion over the last year? Has it changed the game? I think AI is developing fast, and for some people AI is living up to the promise, for others it’s not. I think we’ve got to moderate our expectations of what AI can achieve in the short term and have great ambition in the long run. AI is effectively machine learning, and the real breakthrough will be data sharing. If we can open AI to better quality data-sets, then it’ll be able to achieve many more of the things we want it to. Can it have an impact on health outcomes? Absolutely, without a doubt. Part of that will be how we get the regulatory structures in place to allow machine learning based on datasets that are currently contained within our patients records, within the NHS, but do so in a way that actually reassures people their data won’t be exploited.
When you think about the world of technology now compared to prepandemic life, do you feel positive about its future? Pessimistic, or perhaps both? I think the case is now proven for much wider use and adoption of technology as a force for good, for connecting people, for getting things done and addressing some of the biggest challenges that society faces. Just imagine if this pandemic had struck five years ago, it would’ve been completely different, but imagine if it was thirty years ago! I mean it would just be impossible. I do think technology has been the saviour of our economy, in many regards our mental health, how we communicate and I feel very proud to be working where I am and positive about the future.
The Badger 1st March 2021
16 Ethicul: The Way Forward?
Features Editor Alana Harris speaks to the creators of Ethicul, the Brighton business celebrating sustainability, community & consumer consciousness
here’s never a simple, safe or stress-free time to launch a new business, but if there were to be one, it certainly wouldn’t be during a global pandemic, one week before a nationwide lockdown, and simultaneous with your final year University exams. Matthew Denford, one part of the three-person team who established Ethicul, confirmed that given the circumstances, the first few months establishing the business “definitely weren’t a walk in the park”. Yet, despite the challenges facing them, the team were not deterred or disheartened. Instead, the pandemic presented them with even more motivation and made the ethos and mission of the company clearer and more important than ever before. Ethicul is an online storefront which currently hosts over 40 independent and sustainable businesses and their products. Once you sign up, you gain Ethicul tokens each time you shop with one of their retailers, which can then be redeemed for rewards across the storefront, aiming to bridge a gap between ethical businesses and consumers. The Brighton based start-up was created by Matthew Denford, Charlie Jordan and Ryan Hudson, three Business Management graduates from the University of Brighton. The initial inspiration behind the business came from seeing the profound number of ethical and sustainable businesses in Brighton. The trio were impressed, but confused, they acknowledged the presence of the Brighton independents, yet still couldn’t seem to stop themselves from doing their weekly food shop with supermarket powerhouses, or ordering from online giants from the comfort of their student house sofa. The ease, familiarity and convenience of the big businesses undermined smaller sustainable ones, and made shopping independently seem inaccessible and intimidating. On top of this, the trio recognised the continual difficulty in identifying what brands and businesses are genuinely ethical and sustainable due to the opportunity for companies to utilise greenwashing.
Ethicul to construct a solution which encouraged consumers to shop consciously, with the planet and their community in mind, and made it easy and convenient to do so.
They became determined to construct a solution which encouraged consumers to shop consciously, with the planet and their community in mind
Ryan explained how, through Ethicul, “You can get rewarded with lots of different independents which we saw as a way of bringing independents together to create a community as a collective, to create a circular ecosystem of ethical shopping and I think that’s what captured some of the businesses interest more than just commercial gain, for some of them it was not just about seeing more sales, it was about
hosted on their platform that Ethicul want to celebrate most, the individuals who have chosen not to cut corners so as to develop a brand without compromising on ethicality or the environment. Sadly, due to Covid-19 and its enforced lockdowns, it was these exact persons who were hit the hardest by the pandemic. However, as the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining, Ryan said “I think the pandemic helped us in a way in terms of the business support, I think that a lot of usinesses saw the urgency of what we were doing.” At the start of the first UK lockdown, Ethicul began to contact businesses they wished to partner with and simply tried to sell their passion, “I thinkpeople listened to us more because it was this huge uncertain phase, so I think us offering a bit of a lifeline and being perfectly honest saying we’re
The ease, familiarity and convenience of the big businesses undermined smaller sustainable ones, and made shopping independently seem inaccessible and intimidating What the team did know however, is that they felt a creeping sense of guilt every time they purchased with big brands, and were continually disturbed by troubling statistics surrounding the environment and worker exploitation. They became determined
Ethicul how we can be together, acting as a big group and really supporting each other in the best way possible”. It’s the people behind the businesses
new to this but we just want to find a way to help and we think we can do something really special really resonated with people.” commented Mat-
thew. Now, thanks to the support and positive response they received, Ethicul has been able to help independents by bringing them new customers and increasing their customer loyalty. Matthew described “we know that every single penny that’s spent with Ethicul and with our businesses is a penny that goes towards supporting the sustainability of our planet, it goes straight back into our local community and it also supports the social wellbeing of the people.” Despite the gruelling time the pandemic has presented small business owners, the empahsis to shop local, independent and sustainable has potentially been louder than ever before, something the team at Ethicul are thankful for. They recognise that the pandemic has brought consciousness to the forefront of consumers’ minds, and hope that even if individuals haven’t yet taken the plunge to switch to sustainable shopping, it’s something they’re at least aware of. Ryan recounted “When places had to close and people couldn’t get everything that they needed, they found themselves shopping at maybe the local shop down the road and other places that they might have never been before, rather than Sainsbury’s, because they couldn’t get toilet roll.”
We want to be able to empower people so that every single purchase they make on a daily basis is a positive one This positive change in consumer awareness is something Ethicul want to push forward and encourage to be a lasting change that remains even when the pandemic and its toilet roll drought doesn’t. “We want to be able to empower people so that every single purchase they make on a daily basis is a positive one” said Matthew. In fact, the future is an ambitious one for Ethicul, with the trio setting themselves a goal of facilitating 1,000,000 transactions by 2025. They hope to achieve this through the development of the Ethicul app, which will aim to make sustainable shopping seamless “you’ll just download an app on your phone and you’ll link your payment card so it means that whenever you transact with any of our retailers that are on the platform you’ll generate your own Ethicul tokens in real-time and then you can redeem your rewards all in the app.” Matthew discussed. With modern consumers wanting businesses to pave the way and help them achieve a more sustainable lifestyle, platforms like Ethicul may be the exact kind of innovative business needed to reconnect us with what we’re buying and who we’re buying from.
The Badger 1st March 2021
Arts • Books
Truth, voice and identity: New publications this month Molly Openshaw Books Co-Editor New releases in March that address the identity of women, the voices of repressed individuals and the truth behind Boris Johnson’s actions on Coronavirus. Names of the Women by Jeet Thayil- releasing on 25th March. The author of awardwinning Narcopolis retells the story of fifteen influential women in the New Testament in a way that has not been done before. Women such as Mary Magdala and Mary of Bethlehem are given a voice and a name in the highly patriarchal story of Christ. “Achingly beautiful. Powerful, poetic and profoundly
of feminism in the 1960s show the importance of community, love, respect and control. Failures of State: The Inside Story of Britain’s Battle with Coronavirus by George Arbuthnott and Jonathan Calvert- releasing on 18th March.’This is a scandal ... The Sunday Times Insight investigation into how Boris Johnson’s dithering on lockdown cost thousands of lives is utterly devastating ... Shocking, shameful & deeply saddening. We “saved the NHS” by letting our elderly die agonising, lonely, terrible deaths. Disgraceful.’Piers Morgan
The Soul of a Woman: Rebel Girls, Impatient Love, and Long Life by Isabel Allende- releasing on 2nd March.
The author of awardwinning Narcopolis retells the story of fifteen influential women in the New Testament in a way that has not been done before. Women such as Mary Magdala and Mary of Bethlehem are given a voice and a name in the highly patriarchal story of Christ.
feminist” -Jennifer Croft.
Allende writes about her own experiences with feminism and discusses the necessary lessons for all women with a voice. Her
experiences in the Second Wave
Severance: An Uncanny portrayal of a viral apocalypse Eric Barrel Books Co-Editor Ling Ma’s acclaimed 2018 novel Severance depicts a virus-induced apocalypse seen through the eyes of a late-20s millennial. Its many resemblances to the current pandemic make it a timely and poignant piece of literature that prompts deeper questions about modern capitalism and the lengths of human resilience. Severance begins with the phrase “After the End came the Beginning”, a nod to the opening of the book of Genesis. The end of the world, caused by a deadly disease known as ‘Shen Fever’, marks the beginning of the Walking Dead-style anarchic survival part of the story. Candace Chen, a former office drone for a New York publishing company, has been found half-conscious in the backseat of a yellow NYC taxi on an abandoned road in Pennsylvania. She joins a rag-tag group of survivors in a wasteland America devoid of modern amenities due to population decimation. The group stalk the wasteland for supplies, hoping to find sanctuary in a Chicago suburb that is sentimental to Bob, the group’s authoritarian leader. As they undertake their journey, they come across ‘the fevered’: people infected with the disease, which causes them to repeat the same inane actions in a zombie-like state until their bodies disintegrate. Shen Fever is never fully explained, but its rapid destruction of society and the effect this has on the psyches of the novel’s characters is explored through engaging prose. The novel’s subtle references to scripture and descriptions of religious community under-
Candace’s life is precarious. Like her immigrant parents, she cannot concern herself with wider issues because basic survival is her primary focus. When not working, she’s trying to enjoy her young years: attending parties and deepening her relationship with her former neighbourturned boyfriend Jonathan. We see Candace’s frustrations with Jonathan’s idealistic starving artist lifestyle. Having grown up in precarity, she finds it frustrating that he refuses to get a 9-5 but complains about struggling to pay rent from his freelance writing gigs. As Shen Fever starts to spread to America and work dries up, Jonathan leaves the city, as do all of Candace’s work colleagues. Yet Candace stays. Her boss offers her a new contract and a sharp pay rise in return for her agreement to continue working in Spectra’s Manhattan office to keep the business running smoothly. The fever originated in Shenzhen, the location of the company’s main factory. Candace thus has to oversee moving production to other locations in China, and must go into the office and answer phones in order to keep up with the company’s competitors. Like we have seen in the current pandemic, business interests are put above human lives. The downsides of outsourcing manufacturing to underpaid workers abroad to keep costs down are also shown with this story’s China-originating disease. Wage slavery and personal tragedy has so alienated Candace from familial bonds that she finds herself among the last non-fevered humans left in New York. Fascinated by the strange sights of the abandoned city, she reactivates an old photography blog, fittingly called ‘NY Ghost’. Her pictures of iconic NYC
neighbourhoods left abandoned go viral, and the blog’s comments are flooded by concerned voices worried for her safety. It’s a more extreme situation than the current crisis, but still feels eerily poignant in a time when tourists have left Times Square and Central Park for the first time in decades.
score Candace’s interesting relationship with faith. Before the pandemic hits, she works in the Bibles department for Spectra, the Manhattan publishing company she devotes herself to so she can distract herself from the painful memory of her parents’ early deaths. Like our current pandemic, the Shen Fever crisis highlights the conflict between traditional values of spirituality and community subsumed
under fast-paced global capitalism. Candace is the daughter of Chinese immigrants who converted to Christianity in order to find a sense of community after finding themselves poor and alone upon emigrating to Utah in the 1980s. It is thus somewhat ironic that she finds herself working for a company that designs and markets Bibles manufactured in China. Even before Shen Fever hits,
The novel’s subtle references to scripture and descriptions of religious community underscore Candace’s interesting relationship with faith. Before the pandemic hits, she works in the Bibles department for Spectra, the Manhattan publishing company she devotes herself to so she can distract herself from the painful memory of her parents’ early deaths. It is these flashback chapters – which show Candace’s life leading up to and at the beginning of the crisis – that best capture our current moment. I was frequently reminded of the situation this time last year, when, at the same time as cases started to rise and many countries went into lockdown, people were still going to work and school and getting on with their lives – the rat race of modernity not stopping until it absolutely had to. A year on, the UK is in a third lockdown and we are bombarded with news stories speculating over when we can re-open the economy, or highlighting the struggles of being an essential worker. Although the pandemic depicted in Severance is more extreme than covid, its critique of capitalist alienation and the ruthless pursuit of profit over human life prompts the reader to take stock of how this current crisis can allow us to rethink the way society is run.
The Badger 1st March 2021
Arts • Film & Television
Are Streaming Sites Helping or Harming the Future of Cinema? Helping by Daisy Holbrook Staff Writer Amid the current rapid rise of streaming services, concerned conversations surrounding the future of cinema have also appeared once again. With platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime revolutionising the way we consume media, many are concerned that such platforms are going to bulldoze cinema as we know it and ruin the movie-going experience. However, these services provide us with something incredibly vital – accessibility. Historically, access to the Arts has been steeped in elitism, with the ability to access and consume art forms such as film and theatre being a privilege in itself. With an Adult ticket from Cineworld costing £10.20 (and stretching to upwards of £16 for an IMAX or 4DX film), a trip to the cinema isn’t affordable for everyone, and the cost doesn’t stop there. You might have to pay for travel to the cinema, pay for parking, or pay out for the extortionately priced food and drink whilst you’re there. Meanwhile, Netflix offers unlimited movie-watching from £5.99 a month, which is far more costefficient for the vast majority of film fans. Streaming services not only help to dismantle the financial barriers to film, but also provide a cinema experience for those who may not physically be able to attend the cinema, whether it’s due to health reasons, working unsociable hours or various
other time-sapping responsibilities. Streaming platforms allow people to access films from the comfort of their own homes, at a time that suits them, in a way that suits them. By allowing masses of people to access films they may not have otherwise been able to see, streaming services have played a huge role in keeping the love and interest in film alive, especially over lockdown. The increase in accessibility means that interest and passion in film can grow too, whilst directors can reach a much wider audience and thus can have an even larger impact. We are able to share the experience with a group of friends like we would in a cinema, or we can choose to watch alone. We can adjust how we watch in the way we choose, and that can be extremely impactful, shaping the way we perceive and experience a film and its message. Whilst the cinemaexperience is undeniably special, if a movie is good, it will retain the ability to move, engage and inspire audiences regardless of the screen it is displayed on.
Harming by Emma Norris Staff Writer As we progress through lockdown three, cinemas are becoming an increasingly distant memory. It is unsurprising that streaming services such as Netflix are reporting record high subscription figures; after all, right now, these are one of the few ways we can keep ourselves entertained. My fear however is that streaming services are becoming so routed in our everyday life that, once lockdown ends, cinemas may become a thing of the past. A one-month Netflix subscription costs only £5.99 for its most basic package and so it is obvious as to why, especially amongst students and lowerincome households, the urge to visit the cinema is depleting. In these pandemic times, people want to be able to access new entertainment and streaming services offer one of the few solutions to this. Both independent and chain cinemas are reporting financial troubles and I fear that post Covid-19, many
will fail to re-open. If people continue to subscribe to streaming services, film studios will continue to release films to these platforms as opposed to physical cinemas. Take, for example, the filmed production of ‘Hamilton’ that was set to be released in American cinemas in October 2021. As a result of the pandemic, this was bypassed, and instead it was released on Disney+ over a year early and to great success. A similar story occurred with the film Trolls World Tour and more studios are set to follow suit in the coming months. Not only are cinemas actively losing money, but they are also losing film releases, putting them in a place of real danger. Covid aside, the convenience of streaming services is likely to have increasingly damaging effects on the cinema industry. We live in an era in which the ability to instantly access media is of upmost importance to many consumers and so it is natural that we are beginning to turn to streaming services over physical cinema; it is something that we are all a bit guilty of. Platforms such as Netflix offer the ability to access content at any time, to download this content, and to watch from multiple devices, all at a price that, in comparison to the price of a cinema ticket, is fairly cheap. With this convenience, I fear that cinemas are set to become a thing of the past, a habit that we will ultimately break out of in favour of an easily accessed and convenient life of streaming.
Investigating the Netflix Top 10 Emma Green Staff Writer Almost three weeks after its release on Netflix, I can openly admit I rage-watched the drama series Firefly Lane. Why? Well, the trailer positioned the show as a nostalgic tale of empowering female friendship, but in reality proved to be little more than a string of poorly assembled plot points and even worse wigs. Unimpressed with the conventionality of such a show, I did the only thing I could think to do – I watched all ten episodes. In spite of my lukewarm reception, the series shot to Number 1 in the UK Netflix Top 10 and shows no signs of slowing down, concluding with a cliffhanger ending that is sure to
earn a second season. Furthermore, according to viewer stats, Firefly Lane currently commands the title of the site’s most watched television show globally. Consequently, in this age of digital streaming and with a recent article by Martin Scorsese sparking a debate around the curation of streaming services, I found myself questioning the significance of Netflix’s viewing metric, the Top 10. Introduced in 2020, the Top 10 run-down is a measure of audience volume, which tightly aligns the feature within the platform’s ethos of excess. While most people with a subscription understand the site’s differential between quantity and quality, Netflix knows its digital market domination comes not from offering curated collections or
critical darlings, but instead by strategically planning ways to dominate your time.
This is not to sound disparaging toward the site, or to criticise low brow programming; instead it seems that Netflix wants to function as a confirmation of our contemporary wants. It is convenient, reliable and instantly gratifying. In wanting you to stay subscribed to and immersed in the site, Netflix works as a conveyor belt, churning out original programming and acquiring other content (including old outsourced material and films that floundered during their theatrical release) to bombard you with ‘newness’. This is not to sound
disparaging toward the site, or to criticise low brow programming; instead it seems that Netflix wants to function as a confirmation of our contemporary wants. It is convenient, reliable and instantly gratifying. In a world of continual digital choice, the Top 10 function takes away the need to scroll aimlessly, presenting an intriguing - if slightly off-kilter - list of the newest and most popular films and series by geographical territory. Thus, the Top 10 doesn’t show us who we want to be, it shows us who we are. While I can certainly find merit in some Netflix programming, the Top 10 seems justifiable as an evolution of appointment television, providing a quasisense of community and unity within an otherwise individualised viewing schedule.
What’s On IWOW: I Walk on Water (2020) dir. Khalik Allah Returning to the docu-diary format that Allah used so effectively in his previous film Black Mother, I Walk on Water is billed as a sprawling, monumental recording of Harlem as experienced through the eyes of the director. Clocking in at a whopping 3 hours and 20 minutes, this promises to be another unique slice of life delivered by a truly special filmmaker. Available to rent via Amazon.
Notturno (2020) dir. Gianfranco Rosi Filmed over three years on the borders between Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria, and Lebanon, Rosi’s documentary aims to craft an alternative (and much needed) portrait of Middle Eastern life by focusing on people attempting to repair their everyday lives in the wake of war and invasions. Rosi is an established name in the documentary genre, with his previous film Fire at Sea earning an Oscar nomination, and Notturno promises to deliver another searing depiction of international struggle. Available to stream via MUBI from March 5th
Space Sweepers (2021) dir. Sung-hee Jo Regarded as the first Korean space blockbuster, Space Sweepers is new on Netflix. Set in 2092, the film follows the crew of a space junk collector ship as they discover a 7-year-old girl wanted by space guards. Despite her sweet appearance, the child is actually a powerful weapon., encouraging the crew to demand a ransom.
Beyond Clueless (2014) dir. Charlie Shackleton With footage from over 200 teen films, Shackleton’s documentary explores every inch of the genre. Beyond Cluless dives into the highs and lows of teenhood, Hollywood and cinema history, and is accompanied with a soundtrack by indie-pop duo, Summer Camp. It serves as a delightful ode to coming-ofage movies. Catch it on MUBI.
The Badger 1st March 2021
Arts • Theatre
‘The Container’: A Digital Theatre Review Elijah Arief Theatre Editor Clare Bayley’s fast paced, paranoid and stomach wrenching play The Container is the piece of theatre I chose to stream this week. The play itself was first performed in 2007 to rave reviews and can now be streamed via the Young Vic website for just under a tenner. I cannot stress enough how much this play is a must watch. Taking place in a shipping container, the audience finds themselves with refugees escaping war and heading to England in search of a better life. At first I was wary upon the starting the play, even though it had piqued my interest I was concerned that the play would pander to performative travel tourism, or that the play would romanticise the journey of a refugee coming to England. It’s clear to see however that Bayley and the actors had done their research, and the play did the exact opposite. There is no stage lighting bar the torches that the actors use, and this creates a horrifically tense atmosphere as we see the characters struggle to become at ease. The lighting on top of just how small the container is really brings a sense of claustrophobia, and I was weirdly grateful to be viewing the show from at home as this is a play which advertised itself as not being suitable for those with a fear of small, tight
IPL Management spaces. The audience are literally locked in for the entire hour that the show is performed, with the actors performing around them. This translated extremely well on the streaming platform I was viewing it from, and due to the detailed camerawork and editing, it almost felt like watching a thriller; however, the amazing directing by Tom Wright really grounded this piece into the theatre genre. I found myself becoming tense and irritable as the characters detail just how hot, uncomfortable and hungry they are.
It would’ve been easy for this to be overwritten, but Bayley’s dialogue on top of the fantastic writing keeps this heavy and intense scenes succinct and to the point. The play refuses to hold back from the brutal and deadly reality that refugees face, such as financial exploitation, false promises of sufficient food and water for their journey, and the ever-present danger of being caught, arrested, and sent back to the country you were trying to escape. The acting in this play was superb, each character de-
livering an intensely emotive and intense performance which grips you until the bitter, climatic end. I could only assume just how hard acting in a tightly compact shipping container must be, with only a torch for lighting that’s often glaring and interrogative. It’s no surprise that this play has won awards at the Edinburgh Fringe and won the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression award for it’s practical and emotive approach to British refugees seeking asylum. The play also did a fantastic
job at highlighting the dismissive, xenophobic attitude many British people hold towards Asylum seekers and I found the piece to be an intensive theatrical political commentary. It’s also important to note here that Bayley did not want this play to be a documentary on refugees, and she made it clear to her actors that she didn’t want them to be constantly researching but highlighted the importance of these stories being told. Furthermore, Bayley received backing from Amnesty International to put this play on, and it won the Scotsman Fringe First Award. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is for people to watch this piece. Not only is it unique, innovative and extremely hard hitting, it’s also extremely easy to stream online due to the high quality of the camera work and editing. Seriously, this is a must watch. To donate to Amnesty International in order to help refugees please check out their website at www.amnesty.org and you can also check out the Brighton based Hummingbird Project which seeks to help and provide support for Brighton based refugees at www.hummingbirdproject.co.uk. You can watch The Container here: https://www.digitaltheatre. com/consumer/production/ the-container
‘On the day testing’ is Key to Theatres and Nightclubs Reopening Elijah Arief Theatre Editor On February 15th the Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a Downing Street briefing detailing how lateral flow testing is key for nightclubs, theatres and other entertainment sectors to reopen. Standing up in front of the press, Johnson spoke about how he is keen to ensure that every adult is vaccinated against COVID-19 by the Autumn so that UK entertainment businesses can start to rebuild after the devastating hits that the lockdowns have given. The Prime Minister stated that “on the day testing” is key to these sectors thriving, and that only with mass vaccination can we start to see a reopening of theatres and nightclubs. The route the government seems to be taking is that when restrictions start to soften and entertainment businesses start to open, members of the public will have to take a test for COVID-19 ‘on the day’ to be allowed entry into the venue
and there are many concerns that this attitude will continue into the coming years. The Prime Minister also stated that theatres and nightclubs are the “toughest nuts to crack” regarding the reopening of businesses. It very much seems as if the arts and live entertainment industries are being put on the back burner, which has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic.
Flickr: RichMatt +Roo @NiamhBarker_Art
Ádám Fedelin with the hopes that many will be able to enjoy live entertainment without social distancing measures or without the fear of catching the virus. Many industries and sectors have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic, but it’s clear that the hospitality and arts industries have been
suffering intensely. Many are worried about how these sectors will rebuild after lockdown restrictions are eased, and whether the government will give them adequate funding. The Prime Minister even said himself that the economy did not have space for the arts and entertainment industry in 2020,
Brighton Fringe has also made plans to go ahead in May, and registration to take part has already been opened. Brighton Fringe this year may also be live, digital or a hybrid. Regardless, the arts industry is ready to provide you with entertainment despite government uncertainty. The Prime Minister also mentioned that it is still “early days” to see just exactly where the future of the arts sector is headed, but many theatre venues and industries have been keen to get started regardless.
Edinburgh Fringe has stated on their website that the Fringe will be returning home in August of 2021, but that they are unsure of what exactly the arts festival will look like. The website has also mentioned that the festival may be live, digital or a combination of the two. Brighton Fringe has also made plans to go ahead in May, and registration to take part has already been opened. Brighton Fringe this year may also be live, digital or a hybrid. Regardless, the arts industry is ready to provide you with entertainment despite government uncertainty. From terrible SEISS grants to the disastrous Universal Credit applications, artists and performers have been stripped of their livelihoods. It would be a comfort for many to hear how the government plans to support the arts during the upcoming phased reopening, but it seems as if the arts sector will have to hold on for now until mass vaccination has been accomplished.
The Badger 1st March 2020
Arts • Music
#FreeBritney: Misogyny in the music industry The 13-year conservatorship battle is reflecting the worrying reality for women’s autonomy within the music industry. Alice Barradale Music Editor The New York Times documentary, “Framing Britney Spears”, revealed an insight into the shocking reality of Spear’s ongoing court battle for freedom. The documentary follows Spears’s rollercoaster of a career, reflecting the media’s horrific treatment of the star through sensationalised tabloids regarding her family life, sexuality, and motherhood. This traumatic treatment undoubtedly led to her temporary psychiatric hold - a moment that would change the course of Spear’s freedom for the next 13 years. Currently, Spear’s is living under a court-sanctioned conservatorship that allows her father complete control over her estate, finances, and essentially, her life. The conservatorship is a legal decision enacted for those who are incapable of making their own decisions, usually for the elderly or those who cannot care for themselves or manage their own finances. Her father, Jamie Spears, was granted con-
Stephen Lavoie trol over her estate and finances which includes; restricting visitors and controlling business opportunities. Andrew Wallet, Spear’s co-conservator has also been found to call her situation a “hybrid business model” by booking shows and opportunities she may have previously missed, such as her residency in Las Vegas. In August of 2020, Spear’s lawyers filed a case for Jamie Spears to be removed as conservator, stating that Britney “strongly opposes” her father’s control,
and would like an impartial third-party individual instead. Many fans believe that Britney was forced into the original arrangement due to fearing losing further access to her children. This fear however became reality due to the media’s horrendous portrayal of Britney as an unfit mother and sensationalization of her private life, where in 2019, Spears was granted 30% custody of her two children. This insight into the music industry has revealed the misogynistic reality for many fe-
male musicians within a malesaturated business. Even before her rights were legally restricted, Spear’s experienced a huge amount of control within her career and was found to be pushed to record highly sexualised music videos to help maintain her image and sell further records. The documentary reveals the sexist attitudes made by the media, especially with regards to her break up with pop-star Justin Timberlake. Timberlake weaponized his famous single ‘Cry Me A River’ to portray Britney as unfaithful within the relationship, whilst also partaking in radio shows that outwardly present misogynistic attitudes towards Spears.. Unsurprisingly, the music industry is no stranger to perpetuating sexist and chauvinistic attitudes towards women. In 2014, the artists Kesha filed a lawsuit against music producer Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, accusing him of sexual harassment and abuse. In 2015, Kesha revealed that the abuse she experienced by Dr. Luke was, in fact, visible to Sony Music Entertainment, and they instead decided to conceal his miscon-
duct. Her fight to void the contract with her abuser blatantly emphasises the acceptance of sexism within the industry. The ongoing battle for conservatorship highlights a much larger issue of power and choice for women within music, raising many questions of autonomy and infringement of rights. It has become clear that women within the music industry do not have equal access to autonomy, from forced sexualization for sales to incompetence regarding sexual abuse. Interestingly, when female artists subvert the male gaze and express their own sexuality - they are met with disgust and outrage, such as Cardi B’s track ‘WAP’. The media’s intense scrutiny of female artists has created an inhospitable environment where abuse is accepted. This leads us to question: if the victims within this narrative were male, would these court cases still be ongoing or even necessary in the first place? And if Jamie Spears did have his daughters well being as his priority, would accepting a residency in Las Vegas be appropriate?
Breaking through the noise in a global pandemic Dylan Bryant Music Editor The pandemic has ripped through our livelihoods and impacted the music industry in a way no one could have imagined. With venues closed, festivals cancelled, album releases delayed and gigs only something to dream about, it’s been harder than ever for new artists and bands to break through the noise and establish themselves in the music industry. But with the vaccine rollout, there is now finally some light at the end of the tunnel. But what does this mean for new artists in 2021? During the rollercoaster of 2020, one thing that became clear is how much we need music in our lives. Online performances provided us with entertainment to fill the boredom of lockdown, the announcements of new releases gave us the excitement that we needed, and emerging new artists gave us something new and fresh to fill the groundhog days that the pandemic was serving up. I for one will never
productions on virtual shows and a powerful social media presence, independent artists haven’t had the same support. I spoke to Kiss FM Breakfast Producer and new music fanatic Jodie about how she thinks the pandemic has affected the route to stardom for up and coming artists.
@chaosintheteahouse turn down a spontaneous mid-week gig again. Perhaps you found comfort in up and coming Kamal’s somewhat relatable single ‘Homebody,’ or found escape in Avenue Beat’s ‘F2020.’ Either way, I know like many others, I have been scrolling through my Spotify discover weekly for music from those musicians that are the stars of the future. Everyone loves to be first on the bandwagon, right? Besides streamed concerts, socially distanced gigs, and
online performances, live music was pretty much out of the question for the neverending storm that was 2020. Perhaps, if you’re an avid gig goer, you usually discover new talent in the support acts that are so vital for these artists to get their music out there. But with exposure limited, these musicians are struggling to be heard. Whilst more established acts, signed to major labels were able to adapt with big budget marketing, polished
“The pandemic has been a major obstacle for new artists in breaking through. In the past live shows have been the main tool in growing a fan base, and unfortunately, they haven’t been able to do this. I really feel for them with the lack of exposure they are receiving. However, there are definitely silver linings to what has been such a challenging year. Personally, I think it has helped new artists to become savvier on social media and connect with their fans in a whole new way. I also think, the new music we are hearing is better than ever due to the time these artists have to focus on the material they are working on.” I also spoke to up and coming band Chaos In The Tea House about what it’s been like establishing themselves during
a global pandemic. “We’ve had to improvise, working off each other’s recordings and having meetings over zoom. We just want to stay positive and make the most of the situation we’re all in. Social media has been so important for us with staying fresh and pushing out new content. We set up an Instagram series called ‘Tea House Tuesdays’ as a way to spread positivity and keep our fans engaged. We’ve used the time to create new ideas, keep fans interested and there’s lots of exciting things to come from us!” In the absence of the conventional milestones for new artists, they have had to adapt their plans and find innovative ways to share their music. The pandemic has significantly impacted the music industry, but one thing that remains true, is the excitement and happiness new music gives us. Go and support new bands in whatever way possible, stream, share or even buy tickets to post-lockdown shows! And in the words of Britpop legends D: Ream ‘Things Can Only Get Better’.
The Badger 1st March 2021
Arts • Editors’ Choice
21 Editors’ Choice
Editors’ choice is a column in which the Arts Editors have both the platform and opportunity to share what we are engaging with from the world of the arts. We wanted to create this section so that we are not only being the Arts Editors this year but also have the chance to write as well. We hope you shall discover some up and coming events, ideas, artists, productions, musicians and texts which may peak your interest, as we share what has caught our eye as well as getting us thinking about the events, new releases and ongoings from within the arts. For our first article we wanted to share some of our all time favourite texts; movies, books, podcasts, artists, albums, magazines, social media accounts and our cultural highlights, as a way to establish this new column and also share the types of artistic media we consume and enjoy. Robyn Cowie Arts Co-Editor As someone who can now firmly say they are in their early twenties, I cannot help but feel the need to confess my appreciation of the cinematic genre which is both loved and loathed, but since its popularisation in the 1950s, this genre has been a widely successful time and time again, that genre being the coming of age teen film. Some evoke controversy, others are simply trash or try too hard to capture teenage culture and some feel like they encapsulate all of which you, those awkward, frustrating, seemingly most important and life affirming moments. One which would go on to define who you are, or perhaps offer you a glimpse at who you wish to become as you progress more into the real world.
The notion of aging, the ending of childhood and discovery of the world, friendships, relationships as well as coming to terms with who you are and the life you wish to lead, are universal tropes which we all encounter in one way or another. Therefore, the coming of age teen films are a genre which can be boundless in the many interpretations and representations of experiencing the transition into adulthood. Coming of age films are all about transition. Whether this is shown through the guise of; losing your virginity, leaving home, learning the harsh realities of the world, finding friendship or love, learning adulthood is not all it seems or simply finishing some form of education. The genre is one based on change, so in a year which has been all about change, coming of age films have been my comfort genre,
Paramount Pictures as they constantly remind me that change is a part of life. This is something I greatly recommend to you all. I feel there is a teen coming of age film to which everyone can show how to identify with. That is what is so special within the broad genre, it can offer a multitude of potential options for you to pick from, containing a range of
different; perspectives, ideologies, aspirations and experiences. So whether you are looking for somelight escapism with a Y2K esque teen film such as Mean Girls (2004), Bend it like Beckham (2002) or the Princess Diaries (2001). An influx of nostalgia from the likes of Clueless (1995), Almost Famous (2000), Reality Bites (1994), Dazed & Confused (1993), Grease (1978) or 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). An admiration for more recent thought provoking interpretations with Juno (2007), Booksmart (2019), The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015), Mid90s (2018), Ladybird (2017). Or, a more gritty exploration of teengers from the likes of Kids (1995), Moonlight (2016), Dead Poets Society (1989), Mustang (2016), The Virgin Suicides (1999). To the eighties classics of the genre such as The Breakfast Club (1985), Heathers (1988), Stand by Me (1986). Or simply if you wish to marvel in the comedy that comes with the awkwardness of teenage-dom which the likes of Superbad (2007) and Napoleon Dynamite (2004) which capture it so well. The notion of aging, the ending of childhood and discovery of the world, friendships, relationships as well as coming to terms with who you are and the life you wish to lead, are universal tropes which we all encounter in one way or another.
Alamy Stock Photo Therefore, the coming of age teen films are a genre which can be boundless in the many interpretations and representations of experiencing the transition into adulthood. Whether you love it or loathe it the coming of age genre for film is one which since its creation in the wake of the emergence of teenage culture in the mid 20th century, is one which I feel shall continue to grace our cinema screens, continue to tell even more accounts of these humours, awkward, intense, magical moments which make your most formative period of your young life. And, the film industry has got better at representing a wider variety of peoples very different experiences of coming of age, something which is only set to continue. You never know, they could offer you insight and maybe even some stability as we see a range of characters all learning to adapt to change.
Jessica Hake Arts Co-Editor Television, film, books, theatre and artists themselves: all brilliant ways to explore the medium of ‘art’. This being said, there is one section of art that doesn’t have its very own section in The Badger arts section. Food. Now, I will be the first to admit that my relationship with food has not always been the most healthy. Whether that be sue mental health or the complete lack of energy to cook. However, this being said, i like to think I’m doing much better now. I have moved past the carrot sticks and coca-cola diet of my first few weeks of uni, to now include a much more varied repertoire of delicious dishes that can be whizzed up at a moments notice. Communal living with a group of lovely friends has definitely aided this transition to a healthier and positive outlook. Following on from the trend of communal dining it brings me to the topic of this article - pancake day! For those of you unaware of this brilliant event that endorses the eating of a ridiculous amount of pancakes, then here are a few facts to help you out: • Shrove Tuesday (pancake day) was created as a way to use up leftover fatty and rich food before the following Ash Wednesday (beginning of lent) • The first ever pancake recipe is said to be recorded in a 15th century English cookbook • The highest pancake toss was completed in New York 2010, being tossed 9.47 metres high! Which toppings to use is a dilemma that has to be addressed the morning of pancake day, yet the big question about this day occurs the monday night before - to crepe or not to crepe? Now, I don’t want to incite any aggression over one little article in a university newspaper; however, wars have started over less. Do you prefer a crepe or an American pancake? Last year when I was living on campus, pancake day was spent in the ACCA cafe, eating a stack of American pancakes with two of my flatmates. In contrast, this year was a true indulgence when my house and I made over 40 crepes (and a bit more), consuming them in a worryingly short amount of time. I’m not sure whether it was the satisfaction of making them myself or learning how to turn off the smoke alarm in the kitchen, but there was something truly wholesome about my uni family pancake day this year. However, this doesn’t mean that the pancake joy I had the other week is a distant concept for
all you readers at home. Oh no. In fact, I shall be providing some Brighton based alternatives for all you lovely folk to try (either through Deliveroo, Just Eat or when lockdown eases up - now when will that be?). Before lockdown, my best friend had a bit of an addiction to Crepe Affaire, something I struggled to come to terms with given it’s a chain. However, after having one of their ‘I’ll Have What She’s Having’ crepes - I will admit that I was forced to consider a world where corporations had ultimate control. Don’t worry though folks - this didn’t have a lasting effect. Going Nowhere Man is next on my list. It is absolutely beautiful! Although a bit more expensive, it is definitely worth it. The atmosphere in the cafe, complimented by a lovely team of staff, make this pancake (and bagel) house a must see attraction for any Pancake-o-phile based in the Brighton region. Coupled with this, they have recently become active on Deliveroo! I am yet to order from them online; however, have been reassured that there has been no compromise on quality, quantity or service (and you can take that to the bank). Moksha is my final recommendation and for good reason. This cheeky minx snuck up on me when I was trying to get a Dodo pizza before they officially opened and had to appease my hungry belly with something else. Oh how glad I am that it was Moksha that came to my rescue (and not the dodgy kebab shop down London Road). With their menu brimming with a range of excellent light bites and meals to keep you and your party of 6 satisfied, one should definitely add Moksha to the list of places to visit. Their pancakes have been approved by my little sister, the one and only, who really is a tough nut to crack.. So you heard it here first folks, click on Deliveroo and get munching because this delight is not one to be missed. Now if you are a student, as our average reader suggests, this may be out of budget. If so, fear not because crepes are only a few minutes away as long as you have eggs, milk and plain flour, in the house. I would post the recipe here; however, I wasn’t allowed to make the pancake batter this Shrove Tuesday because I got too enthusiastic about the egg cracking (madness I know). So just google crepe recipes and BBC good food should come up with some mighty fine suggestions. Whether you’re a shroving or a shriving, I hope you let the spirit of Shrove Tuesday improve your day. That spirit being the utter compulsion to eat pancakes with friends and enjoy good times.
ARTIST T H E A RT I ST S
Artist Focus: Ezzy Bones One of the most exciting aspects of the contemporary creative scene in Brighton is that it is not solely bound to art galleries. From a graffiti in the wall to the bottom of a skateboard, art is an element that we seem to encounter in every surface of the city. It even lives within our own skin sometimes. Inspired by this idea, I caught up with the handpoke tattoo artist Ezzy Bones, who works at the BlackHouse Club tattoo studio. We talked about how his industry has been affected by the pandemic, about his main sources of inspiration, and the creative relationship he has with his clients.
What’s your process like when you’re working on a new piece? How do you balance your clients’ needs with your own creative outlook? Luckily, most of the projects I work on are either tattooing my own designs or making custom pieces that are in the same style. If I feel like I can do their idea justice in my own way then I usually draw up a basic design concept for my clients and then edit the idea with them until it is perfect. I love the collaborative aspect of this process, and it has led to some of my favourite pieces. Where do you source your inspiration from?
How did your journey in the tattoo industry start? I did an art foundation course, which led me to get interested in illustration. However, I then decided that I did not want to go to University, so instead I focused on making music and traveling. During this time, I continued to make illustrations, and about four years ago, I naturally drifted into tattooing.
I have a melting pot of different influences such as folk art, traditional tattoo concepts, surrealism and even abstract art. My influences shift quite often, but at the moment I’m really into Diego Rivera’s work. Is there a specific topic that you like to explore through your drawings?
Words by Luisa De la Concha Montes
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The Badger 1st March 2021
O F B R I G H TO N
At the start of my career as a tattoo artist, I actually spent a lot of time working on a style that would swiftly transition from my art work into tattoos. Because of this, I don’t tend to focus on a specific subject matter, but I do try to create my own little weird world within my work, and I’m always referring back to these concepts through my own process. Ultimately, I like to create characters in my work, and I think that’s something I’ve always done since I was a kid. How do you think the tattoo industry has shifted the way we understand and relate to art? We live at a time where tattoos are very popular and accessible, this has led to people having to pay more attention to art, and to do conscious decisions about it. A lot of people now follow tattoo artist not only for their ability to do tattoos, but also because they admire their artwork.This has given the tattoo industry a wider impact in the art world in general. I find it fascinating how many artists are naturally transitioning into tattooing.
I suppose your industry has been heavily affected by the pandemic, how have you adapted your practice to this challenge? Yeah, it has been a pretty difficult time for the industry, as it has for everyone. It’s strange not knowing when we can work in the studio again, and it can make it harder to find motivation to continue to create designs. However, I’ve just been digging in and drawing as much as possible. I’ve also starting making some prints and painting more. Maybe I’ll put some of that work out there at some point, but at the moment I’m just enjoying it for myself. Do you have a favourite piece? If so, what made it your favourite? I don’t think I have a favourite piece. Usually, the last piece I’ve done becomes my favourite simply because the more I work, the more defined my ideas and execution become, so I find that extremely rewarding and exciting. Have you got any upcoming projects that you’re looking forward to? I had load of tattoos that were booked in, and in the planning process before we shut our doors for this lockdown, so I’m really excited to get back and continue working on those. Other than that, I’ve been planning some larger scale painting, and I would also love to put on an exhibition in collaboration with my friend @piratepokes.
Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To see more of Ezzy Bones’ work... Instagram: @ezzybones BlackHouse Club Tattoo Studio: @theblackhouseclub
The Badger 1st March 2021
The Badger 1st March 2021
Travel & Culture
Wellness tourism: Is it worth it? Bryony Rule T&C Online Sub-Editor Worth $639 billion in 2017, wellness tourism constitutes a key component of the global wellness industry, which is valued at over $4.5 trillion and growing at twice the rate of the global economy. The wellness industry has firmly embedded health, fitness and wellbeing into everyday life and consciousness, establishing itself as a full-time and expected pursuit. This lifestyle is one that never takes a holiday, but rather reshapes the meaning of taking a break. Does the burgeoning wellness sector offer something of value to the tourism industry, or does it have a more sinister side? A plethora of activities and trips come under the umbrella of wellness tourism, defined by The Global Wellness Institute as ‘travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal wellbeing.’ From yoga retreats, spiritual awakenings and hiking trips, to ayahuasca ceremonies, wellness tourism promises the traveller the opportunity to become fully immersed in the aspiration of individual welfare. Rather than treating a holiday as a break from healthy routines and habits, trips geared towards wellness enable tourists to ramp up these activities and focus solely on their wellbeing. Different destinations offer a plethora of experiences to the traveller. Often, these are based in the region’s indigenous practices, the surrounding natural environment, or local cuisine and ingredients. For example, wellness tourism to India is synonymous with yoga and Ayurveda retreats, Iceland with geothermal spas, Egypt with sand baths.
The hyper-marketing of the wellness industry as a whole can encourage excessive spending, arguably over-complicating and commodifying health and wellbeing.
Often, tourism has perhaps been associated with the opposite of wellness: Stag Weekends ploughing their way through beachfront bars and fast-food joints; making the most of poolside happy hour; or suffering from so-called Bali Belly. Wellness tourism promises an alternative experience, to the traveller who wants more from their holiday. The fact that the wellness tourism industry is growing twice as quickly as tourism overall demonstrates that demand is
high for this alternative. Is happy hour taking on a new meaning? In the context of a global epidemic of chronic diseases, driven by stress, diet, and other cultural factors, the need for holidays which revitalise and restore is arguably greater than ever. Studies have demonstrated the positive impact of wellness retreats on individual health, with benefits being felt for weeks after travellers return home. Furthermore, these trips can cultivate a sense of community not found in other forms of tourism. Surrounded by likeminded people, often with limited contact to the outside world, travellers build strong bonds and a feeling of collective effervescence. In our increasingly competitive, fragmented and individualistic culture, this is an invaluable asset. Beyond benefits felt by the tourists themselves, the sector can be advantageous to the destination community, too. Providing jobs directly (the wellness tourism industry employs over five million people in India), travellers also support other local businesses, such as those providing transport, food and accommodation, during their stay. Due to the demographic of the average wellness traveller, who spends more and has a desire for authenticity, problems associated with mass tourism can be mitigated. Locations faced with over-tourism often experience a ‘race to the bottom’ phenomenon, with competitors pushing prices down, and outside tour companies benefitting at the expense of local communities. Generally, wellness tourists skip the typical tourist hotspots, instead seeking more off-grid locations and experiences, alleviating the destructive impact that mass tourism can have on
these popular destinations. However, with an influx of people to a remote location, unequipped for the large numbers that wellness tourism can bring, comes inevitable environmental impacts. The obfuscated, ugly side to wellness tourism is its waste management problem. Across the world, infrastructure in destinations faced with a boom of incoming tourists has struggled to match the pace, with sewage being dumped into water systems and make-shift landfills springing up on the outskirts of communities. Rather than easing the burden of traditional overtourism, is wellness tourism just expanding the map of where the brunt is felt?
The fact that the wellness tourism industry is growing twice as quickly as tourism overall demonstrates that demand is high for this alternative. Is happy hour taking on a new meaning? Although many are rapturous about the merits of wellness holidays, this is not a universal experience. Unlike traditional medicine, the wellness sector is largely unregulated, meaning that qualifications, safety and standards on wellness excursions can vary wildly. Although infrequent, there are a number of worrying stories of these trips gone wrong. People have died taking ayahuasca, a traditional hallucinogen, on Amazonian rainforest retreats which are becoming increasingly popular among young travellers. There are stories of meditation camps becoming cults, with dangerous, and at times deadly, consequences. In 2009, three
people died at a ‘sweat lodge’ in the Arizona desert, in a ritual led by widely proclaimed self-help guru, James Arthur Ray. Granted, these occurrences are extremely rare, but nevertheless are a by-product of a patchy, unregulated sector. With an absence of quality or safety standardisation, it can be very difficult for travellers to distinguish the legitimate and enjoyable experiences, from the menacing ones. Travelling for wellness doesn’t come cheap; according to The Global Wellness Institute, tourists travelling abroad for these trips spend an average of $1,528 per trip, 53% more than typical international tourists. Are these hefty price tags justified? The hyper-marketing of the wellness industry as a whole can encourage excessive spending, arguably over-complicating and commodifying health and wellbeing. Instagram may have us believe that happiness and enlightenment is to be found dressed in head-to-toe lululemon, gazing at pristine alpine landscapes from a downward dog position, but for the majority, this seems a prohibitively high price to pay for wellbeing, accessible only to the affluent. Sure, a trip like this is bound to be good for your health. But when the industry and online spaces posit that spending money on such experiences are a must to be truly ‘well’, is when it starts to get problematic. Remembering the lack of regulation in the industry is important when considering the apparent necessity of wellness travel; essentially, anybody can claim anything under the guise of wellness, whether this is evidencebased, reliant on pseudoscience,
or purely made up. Surely, there are much simpler, and cheaper, routes to wellbeing. Is the wellness industry creating a mirage of what is required to secure this? Wellness tourism is offered as a tonic for the stresses of everyday life. A chance to totally relax, connect with yourself, and rejuvenate, to feel refreshed upon your return to civilisation and work. Of course, these are undoubtedly important endeavours. But could wellness tourism be a sticking plaster solution offered up by capitalism, to treat the problems that it itself has produced? In the context of increasing job precarity, low wages, and large swathes of the working population suffering from stress and poor mental health, people are enticed to spend substantial chunks of their salaries on trips promising to leave them feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, provided with time to work on themselves. Arguably, this reinforces the capitalist rhetoric that everything must be productive in some sense, suggesting that even holidays should be spent self-optimising, whether mind, body, soul, or all three. Getting drunk on piña coladas is apparently no longer sufficient for a holiday. Framed as a silver bullet to the strains of modern life, the wellness tourism industry justifies its often extortionate cost; essentially, it makes money from people who are struggling under the pressure to make money.
But could wellness tourism be a sticking plaster solution offered up by capitalism, to treat the problems that it itself has produced? That’s not to say the trend is all bad. Clearly, it offers some very real benefits, to the individual traveller, destination communities, and the tourism sector as a whole. The wellness tourism industry shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. As it continues to prosper and become increasingly mainstream, perhaps it will become less of an exclusive affair, with lower-cost experiences emerging in the market, making travelling for wellbeing accessible to all those who wish to do so. What is clear, is that ‘wellness tourism’ is not just a buzzword; its prominence within the tourism sector is definitively here to stay. What we can hope is that the arena will become easier to navigate, separating the genuinely life-enhancing experiences from the harmful and the fabricated.
The Badger 1st March 2020
Travel & Culture
How have I coped with Lockdown 3.0? Emma Norris Staff Writer As we enter the second month into our third national lockdown, my flatmates and I have been quickly running out of ways to entertain ourselves in the seemingly endless, late winter days. As we gradually approach spring and having already exhausted quizzes and banana bread, we have turned to the outside world more and more to find sources of fun to brighten up our days. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful city, and it is only in recent weeks that I have begun to appreciate all that Brighton has to offer, with its gorgeous beaches, rural walks, coffee shops and endless weird and wonderful locations to liven up our time in lockdown. With this in mind, I am going to share some of my favourite things to do in Brighton right now to add a bit of joy and variety to these pandemic days.
who need our support now more than ever. On the back of this, I have found that it is only now that I am beginning to appreciate the vast array of green spaces we have in Brighton and Hove. Pre Covid-19, I had rarely ventured further than the likes of Stammer park and the Downs, places which I am sure are familiar to most Sussex students. Now, however, left with tons of excess time, I have begun to discover many new places that offer a much-needed break from my laptop screen, allowing for a moment to take in some fresh air and appreciate the beauty of the scenery of Brighton. A personal favourite has to be the racecourse, which can be accessed from multiple parts of Brighton and boasts acres of empty green space. There is nothing quite like adventuring up there at dawn or dusk and watching the sunrise or set against the sea. Wrap up warm, take a flask of tea and allow yourself a moment of freedom and bliss away from the stresses of virtual university! Other good spots include Queen’s Park and Preston Park, both spots that we have discovered are full of life and, perhaps more importantly, plenty of dogs. With every day that has passed, walks have begun to feel more like a chore than a source of entertainment and so, exploring a variety of places does brighten up the days. It is amazing how much a change of scenery and some time outside can boost your mood!
Above everything else, exploring local and independent coffee shops is a real favourite of mine right now! I have lived in Hanover, just outside of central Brighton, for over six months, but it is only in recent weeks that I have taken the time to explore all the fun things it has to offer right outside of my front door, the top has to be its array of small, independent cafes that continue to offer takeaway food and drink. On a dull and cold day, nothing excites me more than taking a walk to ‘flourpot, ‘village’ or ‘the open market’ for a much-needed caffeine boost and a bit of daily exercise. It is amazing that we have so much to discover around us; wherever you may be in the city, you are bound to be surrounded by many of these spots and I find myself constantly discovering new ones. Not only does this liven up my days, but it also offers a great opportunity to support small, local and independent businesses
needed and, on a day in which the sea is calm, it is surprisingly warm and undoubtedly offers a bit of variation to the usual mornings spent in bed!
Yes, a group of 20-year-olds skating quite badly through town might seem slightly embarrassing, but I do feel like the real beauty of Brighton is its acceptance of the weird and wonderful, especially during a global pandemic. Finally, this activity is more niche than others, but my flatmates and I have found that an old skateboard or a pair of roller skates provide a surprising amount of entertainment. In October, we bought our flatmate a pair of roller skates as a birthday gift and they have proved their worth in recent weeks, especially as we reach the warmer months of spring. To escape from the routine walks that we have been inclined to take, these skates offer us a chance to get out of the house, glide along the seafront, get in some light exercise and, most importantly, have a much-needed laugh! Yes, a group of 20-year-olds skating quite badly through town might seem slightly embarrassing, but I do feel like the real beauty of Brighton is its acceptance of the weird and wonderful, especially during a global pandemic. The temptation to stay in bed and let the days pass by is so high right now. I used to pride myself
on my ability to get up early and get on with a productive day, but I have found that this motivation has completely deteriorated through this term. Because of this, I think that setting plans and giving yourself a reason to get out
I have begun to discover many new places that offer a muchneeded break from my laptop screen, allowing for a moment to take in some fresh air and appreciate the beauty of the scenery of Brighton. Anyone who has visited Brighton knows how lucky we are to live next to such a glorious seafront and recently, as the days get slowly longer, I have found walks along the coast and down to the Marina or into Hove to be the best tonic for hours spent on zoom. Even on a rainy day (although this does require an umbrella!), spending some time wrapped up next to the sea does allow for a chance of quiet reflection away from the walls that many of us are right now confined to. A favourite spot of mine is the beach in Kemptown, just next to Brighton Marina, which offers a quieter location to enjoy the sea. On a particularly grey day, I decided to take a morning dip in the sea with my girlfriend. This may sound crazy to some, but it was the refreshing activity that I
of bed in the morning is one of the best ways you can try to look after yourself. It is easier said than done, but there is so much joy to get from a coffee and walking date with a friend, putting your headphones in and walking along the beach, or simply just exploring the roads and parks around you.
Adventuring into the outside world might not be the answer to all of your problems, but it offers the opportunity to escape from the confinement of lockdown and brighten up your days a little. Adding some variety to your days really does make this time so much more tolerable and, in a city such as Brighton, there are always new and exciting things to find. Lockdown has been tough, particularly on students, and so it is so important right now to take some time away from university work, get outside and switch off for a bit. Adventuring into the outside world might not be the answer to all of your problems, but it offers the opportunity to escape from the confinement of lockdown and brighten up your days a little. I cannot recommend exploring Brighton in these times enough.
The Badger 1st March 2021
Travel & Culture
Icelandic Adventures: Notes from a Norse expedition Charlie Batten Sports Editor Sailing to and then trekking round Iceland was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but in the end, it was easily the best thing I will ever do. To give context, it was the summer of 2019, I had just finished my A-levels and had 4 months to wait until I could start uni. So, I decided to sail on a tall ship to Iceland and then spend a fortnight trekking the island. You know, a perfectly normal thing to do. It was a teacher at my 6th form who told me about the British Exploring Society and how they let 16–23-year-olds go on these expeditions and I kind of just thought “well I’ve got nothing else going on in the summer.” My journey took two parts, sailing from Edinburgh to Reykjavik and then hiking around the north eastern part of the country. The boat was incredibly similar to going on holiday with your mates except there were no clubs,
geography student I’m fascinated by the natural wonders that it has to offer. Whilst there I got to see volcanoes, hot springs, lava fields and waterfalls. There is definitely something peaceful and humbling about watching a waterfall whilst sitting 10 feet away from it eating a freeze-dried chilli con carne for your dinner.
There is definitely something peaceful and humbling about watching a waterfall whilst sitting 10 feet away from it eating a freeze-dried chilli con carne for your dinner.
no alcohol and every now and then you had pull a 20x20 foot mast from facing port to starboard. Even though I went onto the ship knowing only a few of the 50-odd crew, it is genuinely amazing how quickly you bond with people when you’re quite literally stuck with them. Other than spending a few hours everyday “on watch”, which simply means to watch the sea for other ships, I got to hang out with people from across the country either playing cards, climbing up the rigging of the ship or just chatting to one another. The best moment from my time there would have to be jumping into the freezing Icelandic ocean from the deck and watching as my bunkmate Wil was too chicken to get in.
It was whilst on early morning “watches” that I really began to appreciate the beauty of sunrises and sunsets and now whilst in Brighton I make an effort to get to the beach a few times a week to see the sun rise and set.
equipment, it was easily the most mentally challenging thing I’ve ever done. But what made it all worth it were some of the natural beauties I got to see. One of the reasons I decided to go to Iceland was because as a
Looking back on my month travelling I think I would have to describe it as life changing, and not in a pretentious way that private school kids say when they come back from a gap year in Bali, but in a way that it definitely allowed me to appreciate the natural world around me. I think it’s impossible to spend at least 4 hours a day staring at the ocean to then not see the simple beauties in nature. I often find myself sitting on Brighton beach watching as the waves amble in and out, remembering my journey and missing Iceland.
I think it’s impossible to spend at least 4 hours a day staring at the ocean to then not see the simple beauties in nature. Once we docked, I was able to get to spend a day exploring Reykjavik and the only way I can describe it is like a whole city just like the Brighton Lanes. Other than the outskirts and the odd main road, the whole city has the same thin, almost claustrophobic streets as well as the same colour and vibrancy as the Lanes. Other than witnessing my mate introduce cheesy chips to the locals, I found myself wondering round the back allies and small markets of the Nordic city and simply enjoying getting lost in it. After this I travelled 8 hours on a coach to a base camp in the north-east of the country in order to begin trekking. For someone who had camped once before this it was a pretty tough experience. For me, the physical aspect was never really a challenge but the mental side of it was incredibly difficult. To wake up every morning at 6, pack up all the camping equipment, walk for up to 10 hours in the cold and rain, then reassemble the camping
The Badger 1st March 2021
Travel & Culture
Travel and Culture editor Hal Keelin reflects on the beauty of Kathryn Aalto’s anthology: ‘Women Poets, Ramblers and Mavericks’, a celebration of the female literary voice as much as a regalement against the evident gender imbalance that exists in the Travel and Nature writing industry to this day. Hal Keelin Travel & Culture Editor Kathryn Aalto’s whimsical anthology began life as the author’s rebuttal to an article produced by an Outdoor magazine that produced an outrageously male-heavy list of “essential books for the well-read explorer”. 22 of the 25 strong list were white men, one of the latest injustices present in the travel and nature writing canon, which has consistently prioritised and championed the male voice, over the female. But it is not an angry book, far from it. Writing Wild is a beautiful celebration (and sadly for many the first introduction) of and to a multitude of talented writers from the past two hundred years, each with a unique voice and luscious prose. Starting with the voice of Dorothy Wordsworth, Aalto introduces us to the words of someone who was always far more than her ill-considered epithet as “the poet’s sister”. Dorothy, sister to one of the most, if not the most celebrated of the Romantic poets, walked the same landscapes as her brother and recorded the features, sound and sights of the Lake district before they became iconic.
Writing Wild is a beautiful celebration (and sadly for many the first introduction) of and to a multitude of talented writers from the past two hundred years, each with a unique voice and luscious prose. The anthology truly hits its stride when, after exploring the voices of the widely abandoned and under-discovered female voices of the 19th and early 20th century,
Egg Fried Rice Katya Pristiyanti Travel&Culture Print Sub-Editor Gong Xi Fa Cai! The recent Chinese new year’s celebration has had a similar consequence due to Covid-19. However, those who celebrated the new year of the ox have not been discouraged from sharing their new year’s shindigs and celebratory meals on Instagram. When thinking of one of the most iconic Chinese dishes – egg fried rice undoubtedly comes to mind straight away. With the hundreds of recipes out there for egg fried rice and the recent prominence of Uncle Roger on YouTube, egg fried rice has become an often criticised recipe. With this in mind, the following recipe has compiled instructions and ingredients from different sources and is in no way restrictive towards what you would like to put in your own egg fried rice dish.
What you will need:
Vegetable oil 2 large eggs 1 egg yolk 4 cups cooked rice (use leftover rice for best flavour) ½ finely diced onion 5 finely chopped garlic cloves 3.5 tbsp soy sauce 3.5 tbsp oyster sauce Sesame seeds (To taste) White pepper (To taste) Chopped scallions (For garnish)
we are presented with those late 20th century voices whom society finally allowed to truly speak. The anthology is flush with recognition these earlier authors were truly radical for merely being good at what they did. We are told for example of how Nan Shephard, a luminous Scottish writer of her journeys to and within her surrounding landscape, kept the manuscript for The Living Mountain in a draw for thirty years. She worried this now widely celebrated, quixotic ode to the Cairngorms was far too sensuous for the 1930s and it’s maledominated mountaineering and “quest obsessed” mountaineering culture. This story of Nan Shephard’s struggle to battle society and culture resistant to the female voice is just one of several examples across Aalto’s anthology which brings lasting awareness to the ills of male hegemony over travel and nature writing in previous centuries. The impact of this is made present today, and it is somewhat of a tragedy that Aalto had to physically construct an anthology that protects as much as it celebrates the female voice. Britain’s biggest
broadsheet’s “Travel and Nature” columns have a ubiquity of male voices to this day and, worse, are flush with oft outdated allmale literary references to Colin Thubron, Eric Newby or Bruce Chatwin. Of course, these are all talented writers and plenty of their works are fully deserving of the ‘Classic’ status, and yet, I can’t help thinking that it is something of a tragedy that female writers with far fresher perspectives and more finely attuned relatability to our increasingly complex world are so often not up there, lionised with them.
Crack the eggs (and egg yolk) into a bowl and mix them all. Heat your pan or wok over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add your desired amount of vegetable oil and pour your eggs into the pan to scramble for about a minute, then set your eggs aside on a plate. Getting your pan hot is important to ensure that the rice does not stick and clump together. Once your eggs are on a separate plate, add a bit more vegetable oil before you add the garlic and onion. Stir the garlic until it starts to smell fragrant. Add the cooked rice into the pan and stir for several minutes to make sure that it has warmed all the way through and there are no lumps. If you see any visible lumps, you can use the back of your spatula to break them apart. Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce and pepper into your sauce. Stir together until it has mixed all the way through. Add the scrambled eggs back into the rice mixture and mix them to absorb the flavour from the sauces. Serve on a plate and garnish the rice with scallions and sesame seeds.
I can’t help thinking that it is something of a tragedy that female writers with far fresher perspectives and more finely attuned relatability to our increasingly complex world are so often not up there, lionised with them. For me, Aalto has provided a list of new works to seek out in bookshops, encouraging me to seek out female voices as varied as Mary Oliver, Helen Macdonald, and Andrea Wulf, and for this, I am incredibly grateful.
This is an incredibly simple and easy tailored recipe to try out yourself! It can be suited to any diet or to add any toppings you desire. An important thing to note is to add your additional ingredients as you add the garlic – this would enhance its flavour and make it easier to mix in with the rice. Egg fried rice has become a beloved dish all around Asia, and the flavour that has come from various neighbouring countries to China are all deliciously varied! The basic skill set it requires, short time and customisable ingredients make this a must-try recipe.
The Badger 1st March 2021
Science & Technology Nikoletta Skwarek
COVID and the sunshine vitamin
Mineral homeostasis, bone formation and respiratory robustness: what do they all have in common? Vitamin D. A molecule that is so often overlooked by many may yet prove to be an important factor in combating the Covid-19 pandemic. A systematic review by Yisak and colleagues published in January proposed that blood vitamin D levels correlate with the risk and severity of Covid-19 across 7 out of 9 (77.8%) large studies. Perhaps now is the right time to reach into our supplements cupboard more so than ever. Vitamin D is a lipid-soluble molecule present in two formats – ergocalciferol (D2) and cholecalciferol (D3), and is precursor to a bioactive steroid hormone, calcitriol. True to its many names, ultraviolet B radiation from the sun is required for production of vitamin D in our bodies. This mechanism is so effective that in the 1920s, pulmonary tuberculosis patients were prescribed sun exposure as
Trine Syvertsen, flickr a treatment. We also source about 20% of our vitamin D from our diet, mainly through fish, eggs and dairy. Our general consumption has been on the rise according to the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, yet scientific reports are still calling vitamin D deficiency a pandemic. This is especially the case in Europe, where up to 40% of people do not have sufficient levels of vitamin D, mainly from the lack of sunshine. If you needed another
reason to complain about the weather, here it is. This collective insufficiency is particularly problematic now in 2021 due to vitamin D’s relationship with infectious diseases, including inf luenza, respiratory infections and as it happens - coronavirus. This particular molecule functions as a nutrient, hormone and as an immunomodulator. Deficiencies increase inf lammation and deregulate the immune system, linking them to many autoimmune diseases
on top of the aforementioned respiratory diseases. How does this easily forgettable compound achieve big results? Turns out the majority of our immune cells are equipped with Vitamin D Receptors (VDRs). Many of these also express an enzyme, 1-alpha-hydroxylase (also known as CYP27B1), which is involved in the regulation loop of vitamin D activation. Simply put, the presence of calcitriol increases the efficiency of our first line of defence against pathogens, the innate immune system. When pathogens are detected, our immune cells turn up their expression of both VDRs and CYP27B1, allowing for increased production of calcitriol, thus self-regulating protective abilities. The involvement of vitamin D does not end there – calcitriol also modulates antimicrobial peptide production and strengthens the physical barriers to infection. It is no surprise then that one of the papers examined by Yisak and colleagues found that low vitamin D increased
the risk of Covid-19 infection, on top of predicting higher severity and mortality in patients. Lungs of patients with lower vitamin D may lack the support they need to even stave off the highly transmittable virus, moreover to efficiently fight it. The most hopeful news: treatments with precursor of calcitriol decreased the severity of infection to the point of preventing ICU hospitalization 49 out of 50 (98%) patients, whilst 13 out of 26 (50%) of untreated patients had to be admitted. Is vitamin D the ‘be all and end all’ for prevention and treatment of coronavirus? Most likely not (so don’t throw away your masks yet), but research into this may yet give us a much needed edge in this prolonged and tiresome fight. Whether you trust this or not, perhaps we should err on the side of caution and include vitamin D supplements in our next online shopping sprees. Your body will definitely not object to a helping hand in keeping you nice and infection-free this winter.
How will the B1.1.7 variant impact vaccines? Ayah El-Dakal Many people have been concerned with news surrounding the new strain of the infamous coronavirus also named B1.1.7. Questions are rising about ‘carried immunity’ from the old strain and even the effectiveness of the vaccines. A lot of our knowledge regarding the viral family is continuously growing with various areas of R&D leading to the development of the vaccines which include the Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford University vaccines approved for use throughout the UK. Much of our ongoing knowledge surrounding the coronavirus and vaccine development came from our premediated information around inf luenza. Therefore in order to understand how the virus mutated, it is important to understand some of the fundamental concepts behind mutations in the genetic code using Haemophilus inf luenzae as a model. Despite scientists stating that SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t possess the proofreading func-
tion which exists in most RNA viruses (such as inf luenza), the new variant appeared as a result of mutations which contradicted these claims. In general some mutations are advantageous for cells, while others are neutral or even often uncomplimentary to their survival. For any living organism, a mutation ultimately means changes in the genetic code. As a viruses’ main aim is to survive through the host they effectuate this though adapting to changes in their environments. One form of genetic variation is antigenic drift which can be explained by genetic alterations in the surface proteins or antigens of a virus. These occur over time through errors which take place under random conditions. The reason the antigenic drift is called a drift is simply because the mutated virus looks different from the original as a result of its ‘drifting’ antigens. To contrast, when two related strains combine genome segments to form a
new strain this is known as antigenic shift and this occurs less frequently than antigenic drifts. This form of mutation is important to note due to its ability to produce abrupt changes in Inf luenza viruses. The eight separate pieces of RNA known as genome segments mate in a process known as reassortment resulting in a new virus subtype with antigens presented as a mixture of the original strains. This form of mutation commonly causes pandemics. While coronaviruses do not have segmented genomes, when two coronaviruses infect a cell they can recombine to form a new single RNA genome. Scientists believe that coronaviruses have recombined in nature resulting in the ‘novel coronavirus.” This similarity with antigenic shifts has also lead to pandemic spread in inf luenza viruses. Having said this, the virus still appears to be mutating rather slowly and in fact studies have shown that it mutates approximately four
times slower than the inf luenza virus. Our immune system detects viruses through foreign antigens attached to their surface. For instance, the ability to evade our biological CCTV system is a beneficial mutation for the virus. What we have seen from vaccination programmes in inf luenza is that immunity no longer occurs in the old strains due to inf luenza virus drifts. In this case, individuals remain vulnerable to the newer mutated f lu viruses; which is why the f lu vaccine is reviewed every year. According to scientists at the University of Cambridge the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine BNT162b2 is likely to be effective against the B1.1.7 variant of SARS-CoV-2, though its efficacy is modestly affected. According to an article published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science that interviewed Philip Dormitzer Pfizer are “routinely making the DNA templates for variants”. The relatively slow mutation rate for the coronavirus family
provides hope surrounding long-term protection from potential vaccine candidates. With the coronavirus spreading around the globe, it is acquiring new genetic changes. Though it is important to understand that viruses are constantly undergoing a chain of uncontrolled mutations this does not mean that the mutations will serve as making it more infectious or even more deadly. For as long as scientists continue to research the status of the new strain then as a society all we can do is keep it under control by continuing to follow coronavirus guidelines. So far while we have seen the novel coronaviruses mutate they have not participated in an antigenic drift. Through similarities between behaviours in the coronaviruses and inf luenza viruses it is appropriate to assume that there may need to be further preparations for future advancements in altering the COVID-19 vaccines.
The Badger 1st March 2021
Science & Technology
Vampires and Werewolves Just a myth or is there a medical explanation? Nisal Karunaratne When regarding this, there is one disease that comes to mind: Porphyria. Porphyria is named from the ancient Greek word porphura, meaning ‘purple’. It is a disease caused by the abnormal accumulation of haem precursor molecules called porphyrins. Haem, a key component of haemoglobin is made in a catalytic cycle made of eight steps, each step catalysed by a separate enzyme. A genetic mutation or an environmental toxin causes the cycle to get jammed, leading to build-up of porphyrin intermediates in the body. The severity of the disease depends on the types of porphyrins and hence a wide range of symptoms, the most common being haemolytic
Pixabay anaemia. One of the most common types of disease is Acute Intermittent Porphyria, with the most famous sufferer being King George III of Britain. The most notable symptoms include trances, seizures and hallucinations - hence the nickname ‘Mad King George.’ Another common type is Porphyria Cutanea Tarda, with the main hallmark be-
ing photosensitivity. The accumulation of porphyrins in skin and the excessive reaction to light often results in skin burns and blistering. Wound healing is also slow, which causes hypertrophic scarring. Another common feature of this disease form is excessive hirsutism, especially on the face. Excessive facial and bodily hair growth may have given the appearance of a werewolf, suggesting that these myths may have a medical basis. One of the rarer forms of the disease is Congenital Erythropoietic Porphyria (CEP), caused by mutations in the gene encoding the enzyme uroporphyrinogen. Severe symptoms of CEP include light activated photomutilation, resulting in facial disfigurement, loss of fingers,
hypertrophic scarring, blindness, teeth darkening and abnormal protrusion and discolouration of urine. Historical victims of the worst, most disfiguring forms may have inspired tales of vampires. It’s well known that this condition was common in the valleys of medieval Transylvania due to incest. Supposedly, the most famous bearer was the 15th century Romanian prince called Vlad III, also known as Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Dracula, ruler of Wallachia (southern Transylvania) known for his victories against Ottoman Empire during the Crusades or the ‘Holy war’. His historical reputation as a brutal and hash ruler with an apparent ‘taste for blood’ is thought to have inspired Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic horror novel ‘Count Dracula’.
Haem infusion helps treatment of porphyria by overcoming haem shortage and suppressing further synthesis of toxic porphyrin intermediates via negative feedback. Interestingly, evidence has shown that the haem pigment can survive digestion and be absorbed intestinally, suggesting that suffers from medieval times may have drank blood to help relieve symptoms of porphyria – another possible inspiration for vampire legends and Vlad Dracula. Future therapies include bone-marrow transplantation which has proven to be challenging and therefore used as a last resort. Gene therapy also seems to be promising, which consist of faulty genes being replaced with functional ones using an adenovirus vector.
‘It's A Sin’ and HIV A retrospective look at the retrovirus Eleanor Deane Science & tech editor ‘It’s A Sin’, the 5-part Channel 4 miniseries, depicts the lives of a group of friends living in London throughout the height of the HIV crisis in the 80s. Today, an undetectable viral load means the virus cannot be passed on - an important message from the ‘U = U’ campaign. However, for many, the stigma and personal health battles including medication side-effects remain. There remains an on-going struggle to see preventative medications (known as ‘PrEP’) become more widely accessible. The retelling of the misinformation and rumours of the early 1980s draws an eerie parallel to current misinformation surrounding Covid-19. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that infects the cells of the immune system. Over time, this causes immunodeficiency. The series shows the increasing fear over unexplained reports of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and PCP (Pneumocystis pneumonia). Kaposi’s Sarcoma may be recognised by discoloured patches on the skin or inside the mouth. PCP
Truvada for PrEP, Tony Webster, Flickr is a type of pneumonia caused by a fungus which may cause an infection when the immune system has been weakened. In 1985 an antibody test was introduced, but initially, the mainstay of treatment was to prevent opportunistic infections and to provide palliative care. In the early 90s, HIV infection became the leading cause of death in people aged 25-44 in America. Initial trials of the antiretroviral AZT proved to be unsuccessful, however in 1994 AZT was found to reduce transmission from pregnant women to their babies. The late 90s saw the introduction of new medications
such as protease inhibitors, triple therapy to target the virus at different points in the replication cycle, and the introduction of viral load testing. These led to the widespread closure of HIV wards as the need for inpatient treatment decreased. These improvements were often described as a ‘Lazarus phenomena’ as there was now the ability to bring patients back from the edge of death. Viral load is a measurement of viral replication – the lower the better. A low viral load means the virus will not be passed on. The 21st century has seen further developments such as
an improvement in the tolerability of antiretroviral therapy, improvements in the formulation (so fewer tablets) and a shift towards earlier treatment. Earlier antiretroviral therapies had less tolerable side-effect profiles with some medications causing lipodystrophy – a change in distribution of body fat stores. In 2012 the US FDA approved pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is a tablet containing tenofovir and emtricitabine, which are two tablets used in the treatment of HIV. PrEP can be taken before exposure to HIV to prevent HIV transmission. PrEP is sometimes called Truvada, which is its brand name patented by the company Gilead Sciences, but in the UK generally a generic version of PrEP is used. PrEP was initially only available as part of the IMPACT trial which ended in July 2020. Now, PrEP is offered on the NHS to patients at high risk of exposure to HIV. Today, transmission rates from a pregnant woman to her baby whilst on combination therapy are very low (less than 1%). Antiretroviral treatment now consists of at least three different drugs which attack viral replication in at
least two different places in the cycle. In some of these regimes, all medications may be taken in just one tablet each dose. This is an improvement to the complexities of previous medication regimes, chillingly depicted against a backdrop of ‘Running Up That Hill’ in ‘It’s A Sin’. However, treatment remains lifelong and medication must be taken at strict times. Interestingly, there have been two documented cases of cured HIV with patients in Berlin and London successfully stopping antiretroviral treatment. These were following highly intensive treatments and transplants, which were extremely high risk and so not suitable to be scaled for wider use. According to the Independent, ‘It’s A Sin’ has broken the record for the most views of any show in one month on Channel 4. Channel 4 has reported a rise in HIV testing due to the reach of the show. If you’re looking to get a test, they are readily available throughout Brighton and Hove. You can use this website to find out how to get a free postal self-test kit for your area: https://test.tht. org.uk/finder
The Badger 1st March 2021
31 The Antarctic Fire Angels Just the 1900km trip across the knuckle-whitening landscape of Antarctica. Nothing major.
Max Kilham Sports Online Editor This is the adventure that Rebecca Rowe and her firefighting colleagues at Paddington Fire Station will embark on in November 2023, all in the aid of mental health. A ridiculous feat by any stretch of the imagination, there can be little doubt that crossing this glacial desert is one of the most painstakingly difficult activities to complete. Rebecca, who is a former professional rugby player, is leading her band of firefighters and is fully aware of the challenges they are facing. She explained exactly how tough the mission is expected to be: “We will be traversing the Antarctic continent on skis, pulling pulks using muscle power alone. The expedition route is 1900km long and starts at Berkner Island where we then travel to the South Pole and resupply before then heading towards the Titan dome, Axel Helberg glacier and will finish on the Ross ice shelf. It will just be the five of us female firefighters on the journey facing winds of over 60mph and temperatures of -50. “We hope to complete the route in around 70 days which means we will need to cover 27km a day.” Ever since Norwegian explorer Ronald Amundsen traversed the pole in 1911, many have followed in his footsteps. Rowe and the Antarctic Fire Angels will hope to add their names to that list. An underestimation of the challenge ahead would be dangerous, as Rebecca is well aware of this fact. The potential physical and mental strains are there to see, with the threat of frostbite, extreme fatigue and hypothermia all a possibility in the freezing basin of ice and snow. Rebecca conveyed this when discussing the potential stumbling blocks of the expedition: “Fatigue from the physical effort as well as mental fatigue from the riggours of the same routine everyday. Physically we will be pulling 85kg to 100kg pulks for up to twelve hours a day and this will take a huge toll on our bodies as well as the extreme cold and wind. “Mentally seeing the same scenery, however beautiful, will start to become difficult and also coping with missing home and loved ones. There will al-
concerning, and begs the question and to how this can be fixed. Rowe hopes that this expedition will go some way in correcting this difference: “I think the fact that we are female firefighters trekking across the Antarctic something never done before by any females and are in vocation commonly thought of as for men we hope will be a real inspiration for girls and women in all walks of life.
Back The Brave ways be pressure to stay in the routine as this can be the difference between being successful or not, staying healthy and on course.” Rowe is no stranger to physical and mental strain. If anyone is to achieve this feat, a former world title holder in surf lifesaving and former Welsh international rugby player has a fantastic shot at doing so. Rowe has also won national swimming titles, which will hopefully aid her endurance across the white plain.
Physically we will be pulling 85kg to 100kg pulks for up to twelve hours a day and this will take a huge toll on our bodies as well as the extreme cold and wind. These trials and tribulations endured throughout a long sporting career, along with her experiences under pressure as a firefighter, will undoubtedly serve Rowe and her colleagues well when setting out on this journey. This is something had known as soon as plans were put in place to begin preparation for the trip: “My experience of being able to achieve a goal by living your life for that very thing will certainly help! Making sacrifices, pushing myself when I don’t want to, knowing my body and listening to it will all definitely aid me in achieving the challenge.I also have built up a lot of perseverance and resilience over the years which will certainly help when the going gets tough! Focus, determination and self motivation are all
qualities that will also help in the run up to the expedition and during it.” “I have always loved challenging myself mentally and physically and this expedition will certainly test them both. “Antarctica is one of the worlds beauties and to be able to have the chance to go there and experience the continent will be amazing. “The expedition is also raising awareness for causes close to my heart, inspiring others to achieve their goals and challenges is really important to me as well as getting women to believe in themselves. Mental health is something everyone lives with at varying levels and to make the world more aware of this and those struggling to speak out is an important message we are trying to promote. “ But why mental health? Why not another cause? Mental health has become a hot button topic in recent years due to an increased recognition of it’s seriousness globally. With the Covid-19 pandemic restricting most people to their own homes, with extremely limited interaction with others, mental health issues have risen exponentially across the UK. Last year, a survey conducted by the NHS discovered that one in six children now have a probable mental disorder, with levels jumping from 11.4% to 16.7% in boys and 10.3% to 15.2% in girls (aged 5 to sixteen). These alarming statistics serve to highlight how the pandemic has negatively affected both the adult and adolescent populations in the UK. These
concerns serve to explain as to why the group have chosen the selected charities: “We are raising money and awareness of two charities during this expedition. The Firefighters charity was the first one in all our thoughts. It supports firefighters and their families with medical support for injuries and mental health support. It’s a fantastic organisation that all of us have access whilst we are firefighters and after we retire. “The Harlequins Foundation that work and support with so many young people through sport. Each of us fire angels have a live if sport and we know how good it is for your physical health but your mental health. Some of these young people are dealing with a multitude of challenges and this foundation changes lives for the better.” Rebecca is by no means wide of the mark when highlighting the massive mental health crisis amongst young people. This has been compounded by a lack of support services. A Government report in 2019 highlighted that 1 in 5 children waited more than 6 months for contact with educational support services or a mental or physical health specialist. But it is not just the support for mental health issues that drives this group. The trek will hopefully serve to inspire more young women to participate in sport. Sport England reported that 313,600 less women are regularly active compared to men. Once again, this statistic is
Mental health is something everyone lives with at varying levels and to make the world more aware of this and those struggling to speak out is an important message we are trying to promote. “Rugby is also seen as a male dominated sport and by being more visible as a role model I hope will change the perception of who can play the game.” “We are really trying to document our training and all the ups and downs of that and show that physical activity whatever it may be or for is and should be for everyone regardless of gender and that it has such a positive impact on mental health and well being. Females should be encouraged to take part in sport and activities with no judgement.” Whether it be for the progress of mental health foundations and the reduction of mental health stigma, or for the progress of women’s sport, the 1900km trip across Antartica is likely to inspire masses moving forward. Rebecca hopes that this journey will provide the inspiration needed to further change attitudes towards mental health issues: “Awareness and education is key to helping abolish the stigma of mental health and with his becoming increasingly more accessible I hope mental health will become something that’s talked about just like physical health.” The sheer brutality of the journey is plain to see. There are few guarantees when it comes to safety, wellbeing and ultimately success in a barren wasteland such as this. The risks being undertaken are admirable at the very least. 1900km across Antarctica will be the mightiest of battles between human and mother nature.
The Badger 1st March 2021
32 Aiming High with James Miller
Senior Great British number 2 10m Air Pistol Shooter James Miller gives an insight into the life of an athlete at University. Molly Openshaw Books Co-Editor Currently holding three British records in Air Pistol Shooting at the age of 20, James Miller is one of the up and coming athletes of his generation. Alongside studying Architecture at Cardiff University, Miller balances a rigorous training schedule with his studies as well as playing Lacrosse for the Cardiff Men’s First Team. With these high-pressure commitments and a busy schedule, James explains his strategies for coping with the hard work. Miller credits the Scouts organisation for his interest in pistol shooting. Starting in 2010 with his local Scout unit James started shooting as a hobby with his friends explaining that he was “able to shoot, compete and have fun”. What started off as a hobby quickly developed as Miller was accepted into the National Scout Shooting Squad after a local Scout leader recognised some raw talent and interest in the sport. Soon after shooting for the National Scout Shooting Squad, James was accepted into the South East Regional Pistol Squad (SERPS) in 2015. After moving to Cardiff for university in 2018, James now shoots for Welsh Target Shooting Federation (WTSF). James explains that shooting has always been something he enjoys and after lots of hard work he has now made some amazing accomplishments. “I saw competitions as a chance to develop further no matter their level. After a lot of hard work, I am just starting to gain some serious achievements
at The Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff University. He explains that he deals with juggling both University and competing by planning rigorously. “I spend some time at the start of the year to plan out important dates for competitions and exams. Then I work through each month and determine what needs to be achieved for when. From then on, I work from a plan that manages my time down to each hour of the day. It all seems complex but it is a lifesaver, even just a quick plan of the next few months can go a long way.” This kind of lifestyle is timeconsuming with not much downtime, James discusses how he does not have to encourage himself to shoot, as he enjoys it. this focus on enjoyment is instrumental to James’ attitude towards sport as he continues to achieve in his career as a result of his positive attitude. “I really don’t need to motivate myself to just shoot; I love it and everything about it. If I wasn’t able to compete then I would still be perfectly happy. However, I motivate myself to compete and train by realising that I am unique. Not everyone has the same opportunities as me, so why should I waste them. It’s always hard forcing yourself to get up ridiculously early mornings to complete work before training and it’s just as hard having to go to bed early when your friends are still out having fun but at the end of the day I know my time is limited and I certainly do not want to waste it by living someone else’s life.” One of James’ biggest inspirations in sport has been Jonny Wilkinson. This is because of his positive attitude towards competing. “Since I was very young, a large role model for me in the sporting industry would be Jonny Wilkinson. I always loved his passion for Rugby, his willingness to put everything he has into a game and his determination to always be the best he could.” James also finds inspiration in his family and friends in helping him with his training and supporting him throughout his career. James credits a lot of his success to his mental attitude and focuses on self-reflection. To James, shooting is not about your score or the result of each patch but positive development and i provement. His positive attitude towards training is what sets him apart from other
competitors. We can all appreciate the mental aspect of sport, but how is this actually put into practice?
Nick Miller Nick Miller but I sill see it all as a way of developing further”. Some of these recent achievements include being a European Silver Medallist in 2020 and being a double Welsh Champion who now holds four Welsh records. James has competed in multiple Junior World Cups and European Championships. In 2018 he competed in the World Championships in Changwon. James also represented Team GB at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires coming ninth in the world. Furthermore, in 2018 James received the Surrey Young Sports Personality of the Year award, with a special mention for his help in coaching and mentoring other pistol shooters and raising awareness for pistol shooting as a sport. All of these achievements show James’ sportsmanship and dedication to his sport. James explains that his greatest achievement so far has been winning a Silver medal at the European Championships in 2020 in Wroclaw, Poland. After the qualification which saw James in second place out of the 44 other competitors, he
continued to achieve second place in this final and secured a silver medal for Great Britain. James was credited for returning Great Britain to medal status in 10-metre air pistol shooting. This is an amazing accomplishment for James and Great Britain as pistol shooting has been seen as a more unusual sport and is not very well known at the moment. “It was my first Major International medal but it was also the first time an under 21 10m Air pistol European Championships Medal has been won by a Great British athlete. It is great to have this achievement as well as being able to set a precedent for future GB shooters.”
In 2018 he competed in the World Championships in Changwon. James also represented Team GB at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires coming ninth in the world. After a year of no shooting competitions after Covid-19 prevented athletes from training, James is excited to compete in the 2021 European championships in Croatia. Competitions have been cancelled for the last year and it has been difficult to get to training with restrictions. However, James has remained dedicated and thorough in his training. For the first six months of the pandemic, James was training at his home in Surrey with limited resources while maintaining contact with his coach over Zoom. This was hard work as there was more of a focus on long term goals with the lack of regular competitions. This also was a time where James was able to focus on his mental performance and look at the psychological behaviour behind being an athlete. James is currently in his third year studying architecture
The most important factor is pure love for the fundamentals of a sport. Without the willingness to appreciate, and the strive to preserve a perfect pass, shot or goal then the ambition to be the best is lost. “Self-reflection and motivation have been crucial to my success. Being able to reflect on how far I’ve come from the first time I picked up a pistol has always been a strong way of motivating me through slower times. Additionally, being able to say that I have earned my all achievements, regardless of size, through hard work and determination has allowed me to deal with mental burdens such as imposter syndrome. Once again, at the end of the day I always remind myself that I still enjoy just being able to shoot, no matter how many times I win or lose, no matter who beats me and how they beat me, I will always pick the pistol and continue to shoot and have fun. I have never thought sport was all about winning, if that was so then it would have become boring a long time ago. I feel the sport is about always being able to pick yourself back up and continuing to love the game, no matter how hard you fall.” This year James is on the Lacrosse Committee as the Male Wellbeing Officer who reinforces positive mental attitude in sport and is a role model for hard work in sport. James has been an active member of the Lacrosse club as well as maintaining his Architecture degree and Pistol shooting. This shows how it is possible to maintain being an athlete and a student with hard work and dedication. “My advice for anyone wanting to get into sport competitively is to make sure you still always having fun. The most important factor is pure love for the fundamentals of a sport. Without the willingness to appreciate, and the strive to preserve a perfect pass, shot or goal then the ambition to be the best is lost.” We can hope to see James excel in the future as he continues to aim high in his sporting career.