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15 February 2018 Vol. 19 Lent Issue 3 www.tcs.cam.ac.uk

Murray Edwards President condemned by Haiti ambassdor

Caithlin Ng Deputy Editor

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resident of Murray Edwards Dame Barbara Stocking is facing criticism from the the Haiti ambassador to the UK, following allegations that she was involved in the cover up of a recent Oxfam scandal. Senior members of Oxfam are being accused of covering up the use of prositutes by several of their aid workers in Haiti in 2011. The aid workers were there to provide relief after the 2010 earthquake, and the scandal has resulted in four members of staff being dismissed and three being allowed to resign. Stocking was chief executive of Oxfam at the time. While Oxfam acknowledged at the time of the staff dismissals that there had been a serious breach of its code of conduct, it reportedly failed to specify sexual misconduct. The Telegraph reported yesterday that President of Haiti Jovenel Moise recently described the scandal as “an extremely serious violation of human dignity”, and that his country is planning to launch a criminal investigation. Stocking was directly condemned by Haiti’s ambassador Bocchit Hammond, who said, “I saw the then-Oxfam director, Dame Barbara Stocking, mentioned that one of the reasons that those crimes were not reported was because they believed

nothing would have been done about it, which is really an insult to my country because you are working in a place and country which is not a forest.” In response to this, Stocking said,“We apologise for giving any sense that the state of Haiti did not exist.” An email from Murray Edwards’ Senior Tutor to College members, soon after claims about the coverup, stated: “We would like to assure you that the College believes these allegations to be untrue...and the President has the College’s full support.” Yesterday, in a statement to TCS, the College also said, “Since 2013 when she was appointed, Dame Barbara has been a highly effective president of the College, not only in pursuing its academic objectives but also in championing issues of gender equality more generally. The College continues to express its full support in Dame Barbara as its president.” In a recent Newsnight interview, Stocking said that right thing to do at the time seemed like getting “this whole thing closed down as fast as we could possibly do it.” The Union has also recently announced that Dame Barbara Stocking’s visit had been temporarily postponed in light of her recent media attention.

Student HANS WOLFF

RAG clash with Big Fish Ents over club night

Caithlin Ng Deputy Editor

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AG has expressed dissatisfaction with Big Fish Ents, a purveyor of student entertainment, regarding Big Fish Ents’ Let’s Kill Valentines clubbing event on 15 February. The event will be hosted at Lola Lo, and will coincide with RAG’s Blind Date after party at Kuda. According to RAG, the Let’s Kill Valentines clubbing night is a slight by Big Fish Ents, following some discord over their working relationship. The RAG committee agreed to a year-long contract with Kuda in Michaelmas 2017, in hopes of working with other charitable societies in Cambridge to raise funds.The committee then arranged their year’s calendar of events with Kuda in Michaelmas, including the Blind Date after party. RAG Blind Date is an annual fundraising activity that matches students across the university, with students paying £5 to participate. This year, RAG has planned an after party at Kuda to round off the night for those who wish to attend. Students will receive discounted entry if they present their Blind Date form at the club before 11pm. However, Big Fish Ents reportedly approached RAG in Lent term and expressed “annoyance” that they had not been chosen by RAG to E-Luminate celebrates the city as a centre of technological and artistic talent work with. and development. continued on p.3 continued on p.8


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15 February 2018 • The Cambridge Student

News

News & Investigations Science p9

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Features p10-13

The Thursday Magazine

Editorial: Reaching week 5 Juliette Bretan and Molly Moss Editors-in-Chief

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he recent media furore surrounding the accusations against Oxfam has provided one of many opportunities this week to despair over the world. Other news this week, from the silencing of a BME event at Robinson to RAG’s clash with Big Fish Ents over clubbing events, may too be concerning to readers. Particularly in the political environment of Cambridge, it can be hard to see a way to escape the present state of affairs. In light of these events, TCS serves as a reminder that even in the darkest times, there are always new ways of looking at the world. In this edition we have a range of features detailing everything from how to support your friends, to why

you shouldn’t underestimate your JCR. As we move into week 5 of term, take a moment to step back and listen, and think about looking at the world with a new approach. Indeed, a TCS investigation this week reveals overwhelming levels of dissatisfaction with the current state of accommodation in Cambridge colleges. While almost 20% of respondents thought their rent was not ‘fair’ according to the quality of their room, over 30% of respondents replied that their rooms are poor value for money. Our columnists this week include Isabella Leandersson on ‘Gays of our Lives’, Hannah Dyball on gaming, and Rebecca Heath on student poverty.

Our photoshoot, meanwhile, is all about ‘perception’, and how it is possible to examine the day-to-day world from a different angle. From a coming out article to reviews of upcoming theatre, The Thursday Magazine is packed with fresh perspectives on Cambridge life. On this note, as ever, we are always keen to hear your article ideas, so contact the paper at any point in term to see your writing platformed and voices heard. As you go through week 5, remember that though things may seem disheartening at times, there is good around too, if you look close enough. There are always new ways to view the world, and more uplifting attitudes to consider, in spite of everything.

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Interviews p14-15

Comment p16-18

Sport p19-20 The Cambridge Student takes complaints about editorial content seriously. We are committed to abiding by the Independent Press Standards Organisation rules and the Editors’ Code of Practice enforced by IPSO, and by the stipulations of our constitution. Requests for corrections or clarifications should be sent by email to editor@tcs.cam.ac.uk or by post to The Editor, The Cambridge Student, Cambridge University Students’ Union, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RX. Letters to the Editor may be published.

Editors-in-Chief Juliette Bretan & Molly Moss Deputy Editors Will Bennett & Caithlin Ng News Editor Sophie Laura Weymes McElderry Science Editor Nol Swaddiwudhipong Features Editor Jane O’Connor

Lifestyle Editor Comment Editors Josephine Skorupski, Lewis Thomas & Holly MacAskill Iván Merker Sex & Relationships Editors Nadia Dahrup Razali Interviews Editor Celia Morris Munira Rajkotwalla Theatre Editor Alex Sorgo

Creative Writing Editor Tasha May

Books Editor Ellen Birch

Staff Illustrators Emil Sands & Kitya Mark

Fashion Editor Lydia Karayianni

Chief of Board Sophie Dickinson


The Cambridge Student • 15 February 2018

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News

In pictures: e-Luminate Festival 2018 News Team

Since 2013, e-Luminate Cambridge has been offering residents and students the opportunity to experience the city’s maginifcent buildings in a new glow. The idea of light is mean to celebrate the city as a centre of technological and artistic talent and development.


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15 February 2018 • The Cambridge Student

Investigations

“Moths, moths, and more moths -t

Students comment on accommodation quality in TCS survey

Do you think your rent is fair according to the quality of your room?

Beatrice McCartney & Sophie Laura Weymes-McElderry

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n light of recent attention on the state of college accommodation and campaigns against high room rents, TCS has launched an investigation in order to hear what students really think about their college rooms. At the end of last term, a number of ‘Cut the Rent’ petitions were launched across colleges, including Murray Edwards, Robinson and Magdalene, in order to challenge the excessive cost of often subpar accommodation. Murray Edwards was one of the first colleges to launch a rent campaign, with over one hundred students signing the petition within the first 48 hours. The Murray Edwards petition observed that despite the College’s “strong commitment to access”, high rents undermined the college’s stance. The poor quality of accommodation was also felt to have “a negative impact upon student experience and academic work”. Whilst the petition was not backed by the Murray Edwards College JCR, Leila Sackur, one of the JCR Ents Officers, stated that “the campaign will continue in spite of this setback”. Robinson College later joined in, attesting that all but four rooms were more than £1615 per term. Their petition,

which was supported by the Robinson JCR, claimed that the unfair rents were a welfare and access issue. It also observed that despite Robinson being “one of the most egalitarian and relaxed colleges in which to live and work”, its accessibility was being jeopardised by the “unaffordable rents”. Last week, TCS investigated the discrepancies in rent between the colleges, finding that while at the lower end of the scale, £70 a week is enough to stay at Peterhouse and Trinity Hall, Girtonians must shell out £160 for even the worst rooms. Queens’ was found to have a discrepancy of £82 between its most and least expensive rooms, whilst Downing rents start at £116 a week, going up to £191 for its most expensive room. After these revelations, TCS decided to create an anonymous survey to find out exactly why students are unhappy with their rooms and if they think that their rooms are worth their rent. The responses show an overwhelming level of dissatisfaction with the current state of rooms in Cambridge colleges. Almost 20% of respondents thought their rent was not ‘fair’ according to the quality of their room, amid complaints of damaged walls, draughty windows and even damp. Over 30% of respondents replied that their rooms are poor value for money. JOHN SUTTON

TESTIMONIALS: students share thei

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he majority of respondents expressed deep dissatisfaction with the quality of their rooms. One stated that despite paying £210 a week, their room is never cleaned, whilst another commented that the cheap cost of their accommodation did not excuse the “freezing cold” and “damp” they face daily. TCS found that the most common problems with college accommodation were cracked or broken windows, adding to existing problems with cold in badly-heated rooms. One student listed a series of problems that they had faced, including “broken plug sockets, broken radiator, broken door handle, broken window handle” and “stained walls”. The problem of thin walls was another common complaint, with a student complaining that they had “very, very thin walls so that you can literally hear the conversations (and more) of your neighbours”. A Caius student was particularly

“Moths, moths and more moths”

clear about the disparity between room quality and pricing within their college. They said: “£144 per week even if my room faces out into the street on the ground floor and there is loads of noise in the mornings and during the day...many other rooms in Caius are reduced in price because of noise and generally bothersome location, mine should too.” Only a third of all respondents said that their college was ‘quick’ to fix any problems with rooms. “I’ve reported my radiator being broken so many times I’ve lost count, and it STILL isn’t fixed a term and a half later,” said another student. “It’s absolutely freezing and I can barely work in here.” Another student had “no hot water in kitchen for Michaelmas term”, a problem which was not addressed until week nine, in spite of complaining in week four last term. Other respondents had more positive accounts of the state of their ac-


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The Cambridge Student • 15 February 2018

Investigations

they ate my carpet and my clothes” Overall, are you satisfied with your accommodation?

ir experiences with accommodation commodation and noted that problems were fixed quickly. For one student, “when I had problems, such as a broken lamp or an extremely uncomfortable mattress, my college was quick to solve these problems and everything was sorted within a few days”. In spite of a number of issues with college accommodation, only 15.4% of respondents said that they were not satisfied with their rooms. A pleased student noted that the “rooms are pretty nice” and that “the desk space is fantastic and there is a lot of storage which you can’t get enough of ”. However, the investigation also revealed the more concerning and dilapidated state of some rooms, with students complaining that there have been problems with insect infestations and vermin in their accommodation. One student noted that they had suffered from “moths, moths, and more moths” throughout their time in accommodation. More shockingly, there

“It’s freezing and I can barely work”

was a testimony that both rats and cockroaches were found in a college house last year. In one college, a student has worryingly “heard of vermin problems for next year’s rooms, which we are soon to be allocated”, indicating that problems with pests have failed to be resolved. Overall, six different complaints of vermin or infestation problems were recorded by the investigation. It seems clear that one of the main reasons as to why ‘Cut the Rent’ petitions and campaigns have gained traction across colleges is the poor state of some college accommodation. A failure on the part of colleges to address and fix problems quickly is a key area of complaint. From peeling paint and the annoyance of thin walls, to more severe problems with pests and vermin, it can be seen that there are cases where college rooms are simply not worth the high rents that students are paying.

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News Editor Sophie Laura Weymes McElderry shares her thoughts on the accomodation statistics

COMMENT: Many students find discussing the quality of their rooms a hot topic of conversation and now we can see the full variety of accommodation after research by TCS. Over two thirds of students who responded to our survey thought the price of their accommodation was ‘fair’ according to the quality of their room but a significant portion thought they were being charged at a high rate for rooms than they should be. Most students are obliged to promptly vacate their rooms at the end of each term, so that colleges can charge external companies for conference accommodation in their own bids for extra income; students might feel fairly aggrieved that their interests are not being put first. The principal concerns of students are problems which can be easily fixed- be it broken windows, peeling paintwork on walls, or malfunction-

ing heaters – these are no big task for college maintenance departments. According to Shelter, students are entitled to the same rights as any person renting privately, for whom the landlord is responsible for making sure that facilities are up to scratch. A large percentage of respondents told us that their college was not, or only ‘sometimes’, ‘quick’ to fix problems with rooms. What was particularly astounding was the common problem with vermin and unwanted insect infestations, ranging from moths to cockroaches and mice. These seem to be recurring problems across colleges, though little appears to be being done about it as far as longterm measures are concerned. Almost three quarters of students said they were satisfied with their accommodation which is a reasonable number for a demographic from a range of backgrounds.

Is your college quick to fix any problems with the rooms?

Lent Issue 2 Correction: Our investigation two weeks ago suggested College rents are calculated on the basis of a College’s “need to extract money from students and the cost of maintenance and refurbishment”. We would like to take this opportunity to issue a correction: this comment was not grounded in fact, and rent disparities may involve greater nuances.


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15 February 2018 • The Cambridge Student

College Watch

Images: Jessica McHugh

Selwyn

Clare

Girton

Cambridge RAG is famous around campus for its notorious tales of outlandish adventures in the name of charity. Students who have taken part in LOST or JAILBREAK often traverse enormous distances in the most bizarre fashions to raise money for ‘Raising and Giving’. Everyone has heard a story about a group who managed to get to New York for free or walked back to Cambridge from Saffron Walden. However, three Selwyn students decided to raise money by travelling a rather shorter distance. They managed to get from Homerton College all the way to Girton College. However they did so leapfrogging all the way. This is the first known fundraising excursion of its kind. Michaela Hine, Anna Ellis-Rees and Parker Lawson have attracted all the plaudits on Twitter for their feat and had raised almost £800 as of February 11th. By the sound of the Twitter thread, that figure is still rising. RAG Blind Date is taking place this week for all those still keen to get involved in the fundraising.

Clare College alumna Biba Dow has recently been shortlisted for “Architect of the Year” for her work on the Garden Museum in London. The prize is one of a prestigious few given out at the 2018 Women in Architecture Awards. Dow is a member of Dow Jones Architects of which she is a co-founder. In an interview earlier this month she remarked, despite her own role in building the company, “in most meetings I am the only woman”. The Garden Museum is based in a church building next to Lambeth Palace. It is often mistaken for being part of a palace. The recent extensions have added a “cluster of copper clad pavilions that form a cloister garden”. The decision to locate the museum inside the church is also important. It brings vitality to an already listed building. Naturally, work on such a site is accompanied by unavoidable challenges. These include listed tombs, and protected trees and vistas.

Two fellows of Girton College have recently been awarded the university-wide 2018 Pilkington Teaching Prize. Admissions Tutor, and Jean Sybil Dannatt Official Fellow, Dr Stuart Davis and Brenda Hale Official Fellow Dr Stelios Tofaris, have been given the award in recognition of their outstanding teaching of Modern Languages and Law respectively. The highly prestigious award is reserved for individuals who have made a lasting contribution to a Department, Faculty, or the University. There are just twelve such prizes awarded each year, so the fact that two of these have gone to Fellows from the same college is a true credit to Girton, who have only had eight previous winners of the award. Dr Davis and Dr Tofaris will join an incredibly elite band of those who have previously received this prize. The prize was inaugurated in 1994, making this year its 25th anniversary.

Caithlin Ng

Caithlin Ng

St Catz

St Catherine’s has sadly announced the loss of renowned Honorary Fellow, Professor Sir Alan Battersby, who passed away after a short period of illness. Sir Alan almost bypassed a career in academia altogether when he signed up to work at a factory, leaving school to aid the war effort. While he worked at the factory, he took classes at Salford Technical College every Saturday. These amounted to the equivalent of A-levels and Sir Alan achieved grades good enough to attend Manchester University on a scholarship to study Chemistry. Having already been elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1966 and in 1969, he began teaching at Cambridge. From 1988-92 he held the BP Professorship of Chemistry. Over his career, which he described as “fairly conventional”, Sir Alan was awarded 20 national and international medals. For the most part, his scholarship revolved around biosynthesis of the “pigments of life”: haem, chlorophyll and vitamin B12. Will Bennett Will Bennett


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The Cambridge Student • 15 February 2018

Mary Beard to present TV version of Radio 4’s Front Row Caithlin Ng Deputy Editor

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t has been announced that Mary Beard will be the new regular presenter of Radio 4’s TV version of Front Row. Front Row is a topical discussion show that will be broadcast at 11pm, and will feature “cultural debate, critical reviews and interviews”. Beard will be the anchor for a series of six programmes, having presented one episode of Front Row last year. She said, “I really think it is important to bring good arts comment and discussion to television. If I can play my part in that, I’m up for it.” Front Row has long been been Radio 4’s flagship arts programme, and made the transition to television last year. Beard will also appear on television

Beard is one of the BBC’s most prominent presenters

next month presenting two episodes of Civilisations, a new BBC series about the origins of human creativity. She will look at the prehistoric Olmec heads in Mexico, the terracotta warriors in China, and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. With such on-screen appearances, Beard is fast becoming one of the BBC’s most prominent presenters. Beard is a Professor of Classics at the University and a fellow at Newnham College, and is often regarded as Britain’s “best-known classicist” for her frequent media appearances. Controller of BBC Two Patrick Holland complimented her for being “one of the most thought-provoking

intellectuals in the UK and a defining voice for BBC Two.” About her personal cultural tastes, Beard said, “I’ve never been much interested in the divide. The world is full of what was originally ‘low’ culture being incorporated into the ranks of the ‘high’. “And, to borrow an example from the classical world, ancient Greek theatre also tends to challenge any easy division.” She also noted that Front Row is still evolving in tone: “In general I never think it is a good idea to try and recreate past successes. You have to strike out on your own, for better or worse.” MARY BEARD

News NEWS BULLETIN

New Kettle’s Yard opens doors

4,000 people went to visit at the opening of the New Kettle’s Yard last Saturday as it welcomed visitors once more after two years of closure. The building project has created the space for a fourfloor Education wing, improved exhibition galleries, a new entrance area and a café. Jamie Fobert Architects conducted the design which was funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England. In 2011 Kettle’s Yard were awarded £2.32m by the Heritage Lottery Fund which enabled them to conduct the recent project. With free admission, the University’s modern and contemporary art gallery will be accessible to everyone. Events like music concerts, open science experiments and the garden kitchen will turn the art gallery into a multi-purpose space in the coming weeks.

NUS Presidential election candidates announced

The first candidate is Momin Saqib. He pledges to unleash the potential of the NUS to help students. His campaign tag line is “Leadership, Transformation and Success”. Second is Sahaya James of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. James wants to democratise the internal workings of the NUS focus on relations with activists. Last is Shakira Martin seeking re-election under the mantra, “Time To Get Real”. Previously elected to “listen, learn and lead”, she stands by her previous pledge to effect the “huge changes we all want to see in our education system”. Voting will take place at the National Conference in Glasgow from 27 March, Tuesday to 29 March, Thursday.

Union announces that Dame Stocking has cancelled her visit

BME open-mic night forced to shut down Beatrice McCartney

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ewnham College BME Students have today released a statement on the Fly Girls of Cambridge website, confirming that their ‘Newnham x Robinson: BME Open Mic Night’ hosted by Newnham College BME Students was “forcibly shut down by the Bar staff upon receiving complaints by white students that they didn’t enjoy the BME performances”. The open-mic night was intended to showcase performances ranging “from spoken word, singing, dancing or any creative outlet of your choice.” It stressed that “in the spirit of inclusivity and celebrating diversity, non-BME performers wishing to perform

something by a BME artist are more than welcome”. However, the event was shut down mid-way through, with FLY describing: “We knew that the Robinson Beer Festival was also scheduled to run all day, buwt there was no indication to us that at 8pm, BME students and performers would be pushed aside to occupy a small fragment of the bar room. Despite the uncomfortableness of the situation, we started the performances. “We then took a short 30 minute break in the JCR to deal with technical difficulties and to allow everyone to socialize. However, the bar manager then told us that we needed to leave, saying that because the Robinson Bar is a business we could not leave it empty, and that other students were

“A reminder of why such nights are still important”

complaining that “the performers in the first half weren’t good and people said they didn’t like it so were leaving”. In a statement to TCS, performer Hasan Al-Habid said: “The actions of Robinson bar were belittling, extremely disrespectful and totally unwarranted. It’s really sad and sobering that an event that was intended to give BME students a voice and celebrate their diverse talents turned into a cruel reminder of why such nights are still so vitally important.” In a statement, Robinson College Students Association said, “We are very disappointed that this does not send the message of togetherness through diversity which was our aim. However, we hope to be able to host a more successful night in the near future.”

The Cambridge Union has recently announced that Dame Barbara Stocking’s visit has been temporarily postponed in light of her recent media attention. In a post on Facebook, the Union said “with considerable media attention surrounding Dame Barbara’s time at Oxfam, her and her team have decided that now is not the best time for her to visit the Union.” They also said that they “look forward to announcing a new date soon”. The Union has suffered a string of cancellations this term , with Lord of The Rings actor Orlando Bloom and American Politician Mike Flynn cancelling their visits at extrememly short notice earlier this year. Brazilian footballer Pelé also cancelled his visit a week after the Union Lent termcard was released, citing an illness as the reason.

Apprenticeships at Cambridge The University of Cambridge has recently announced that it has registered as an official apprenticeship trainer starting in October 2018. Apprenticeships are to be rolled out at Postgraduate level only with no information currently on offer about which existing course are likely to offer apprenticeships. A spokesperson for the university said: “Working in partnership with employers and apprentices, Cambridge is intending to deliver excellent, researchinformed apprenticeship training through its Institute of Continuing Education.” The Employers already known to be working with the University are Lloyds, Greggs and British Airways.


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15 February 2018 • The Cambridge Student

News

Zero Carbon mock-wedding protests against University investments TCS News Team

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he Cambridge Zero Carbon Society yesterday held a peaceful demonstration outside the University’s Old Schools offices, where members of the Finance and Business Committee were meeting to discuss Cambridge investments. Inspired by Valentine’s Day, the stunt featured two students, one dressed as the University and the other as Shell, taking part in a mock marriage ceremony in an attempt to draw attention to issues surrounding Cambridge University investments, mainly relating to a lack of transparency.

The ‘ceremony’ was presided over by a mock vicar, who began with a fitting twist on the traditional matrimonial ceremony opening line: ‘Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness this blessed union between Mr Shell and Miss Cambridge.’ The vicar later addressed the lack of transparency regarding the University’s financial investments, highlighting the recent hiring of David Hughes, a former Head of Audit at Shell, as Director of Finance, along with a £250,000 donation which the mock vicar compared to a ‘dowry’. As the ceremony concluded, protesters chanted ‘Cambridge, dump carbon, invest’ using loudhailers as

“Blessed union between Mr Shell and Miss Cambridge”

they left the Old Schools building. The protest was not stopped by security staff, something previous protests have faced. Since the fullscale comeback of the the society this academic year, it also demonstrated at the end of January in front of the University Investment Office. Dressed in lab coats and bright orange gloves, campaigners posed as forensic detectives looking out for signs of links between Cambridge and fossil fuel companies. Though the Zero Carbon Society was set up in 2015 and has relentlessly campaigned for the withdrawal of Cambridge investments from the oil industry, it was only in May

Protestors chanted “Cambridge, dump carbon, invest”

last year that a Grace was passed in Regent’s House creating a working group to investigate the possibility of divestment. The society has seen backing from such figures as Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, and local MP Daniel Zeichner. In a statement released by the Zero Carbon Society, Rob Day, a spokesperson for the society, said: ‘The acceptance of donations from the Fossil Fuel Industry and the appointment of someone who owes their entire career and livelihood to an industry that has directly harmed both the planet and the lives of individuals, is a conflict of interest.” CAMBRIDGE ZERO CARBON SOCIETY

RAG clash with Big Fish Ents over Valentine’s Day clubbing events Caithlin Ng Deputy Editor continued from p.1

They also requested the Blind Date after party be moved to another date, given that it clashed with Big Fish Ents’ Thursday Lola Lo night. RAG declined because of their contract with Kuda and the effort that had already gone into publicising the event. According to RAG, Big Fish Ents “accepted this and expressed wishes of working with us next year instead”. However, Big Fish Ents announced their Let’s Kill Valentines event over the weekend, and stated in their publicity that students will receive free entry if they present their Blind Date forms. Regarding this occurrence, RAG told TCS: “RAG is extremely disappointed to see that a company we have previously worked with is using our Blind Date forms as a marketing strategy to encourage students to

“An event that should raise around £10,000”

attend their event instead of ours. “Unfortunately, this is likely to impact on our ticket sales and therefore how much is generated for charity. RAG hope that Big Fish Ents will not impact the amount they manage to raise for charity. RAG added: “Our Blind Date team have worked hard this year to create an event that should raise around £10,000 for our charities. “It would be a shame to see these totals reduced due to reduced attendance at the after party. “We would like to encourage students to use their Blind Date forms to get reduced entry into the Official Kuda After party (£2 before 11pm and £5 thereafter) where students can end their date.” RAG managed to raise nearly £13,000 last year for their charities through Blind Date.


15 February 2018 • The Cambridge Student

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Science

How Science is redefining our ideas of creativity Nol Swaddiwudhipong Science Editor

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reativity, or perhaps the lack of it, is often a struggle. Too often we find ourselves staring at a blank page, waiting for the elusive flash of inspiration. In Science, one can all too easily get bogged down in endless lists of figures and lose sight of the creative spark driving a research idea. Just like the creative process, our notion of creativity is a messy one. Far from being an undesirable quality, its open-ended nature means it abounds with possibilities for scientific exploration. Indeed, creativity is the gift that Science is just beginning to unravel. We may know little about it, but modern technology offers a multitude of tools for us to learn about creativity, and in particular, to approach the brain as a window into the creative process. What many scientists try to do is to find a neurobiological basis for various aspects of creative thinking. For example, a recent study by Zhou and colleagues used an electroencephalogram to monitor the brain activity of participants who were asked to creatively complete a two-part Chinese saying. Participants then reflected whether they felt their response was original or not. The researchers found different

The brain as a window into the creative process

patterns of alpha waves in the frontal and temporal brain areas when original responses were given as compared to unoriginal responses, suggesting their involvement in the creative process. Associating specific brain regions with particular aspects of creativity is a common motif in research. Another study by Bendetowicz and colleagues suggests that different brain networks may be responsible for separate creative processes. They studied patients with brain injury and found that those in whom the right medial prefrontal region was injured were poorer at coming up with disparate concepts. Conversely, those with injury to the left rostrolateral prefrontal region and its connections could come up with disparate concepts but were less able to draw suitable links between them. Moving from brain to behaviour, music is an activity commonly associated with creativity. In particular, jazz could be highlighted for its heavy involvement of improvisation. A study by Benedek and colleagues suggests that jazz musicians may be more creative than classical and folk musicians. This was assessed based on surveys and psychological tests. A more recent study seems to support these findings. Przysinda conducted an investigation which compared how jazz improvisers, non-improvising

GERALT via PIXABAY

musicians, and non-musicians respond to different chord progressions. Jazz musicians appeared to like unexpected chord progressions more than the other 2 groups. Furthermore, their brains responded differently to the unexpected chords, suggesting an intriguing neural basis for creative thought. Beyond a mere subject of investigation, creativity itself is very much a part of Science. Pushing the frontiers of knowledge necessitates working with novel conditions that have not been previously achieved.

A very human aspect of our minds

Considerable imagination is needed to sustain such endeavours. After all, creativity achieves as a word the paradoxical unification of divergent ideas that defy simple consolidation. Perhaps what Science is doing for creativity is not so much reducing it to brain regions or tying it down as a measure of comparison, but instead elaborating on what it means and offering us a glimpse into a very human aspect of our minds. In turn, creativity continues to fuel breakthroughs and surprise us in the ways it works.

Robot scientist finds potential malaria drug Nol Swaddiwudhipong Science Editor

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group of scientists working to uncover new drugs against malaria have come up with an interesting way to optimise the process of drug discovery. They have engineered a “Robot Scientist”, Eve, which is able to automatically test thousands of different substances for their potential use against the malarial parasite, Plasmodium. From its experiments, the Robot Scientist Eve pinpointed triclosan as a potential drug with antimalarial properties. Triclosan is a chemical that fights bacterial growth. It is found in several household products, such as toothpaste and detergents. What the Robot Scientist found was that triclosan inhibits a crucial Plasmodium enzyme. This enzyme, dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), enables the parasite to create the building blocks for its proteins and other essential molecules. Humans also have DHFR, but triclosan affects the function of the parasite’s version rather than ours, as

Triclosan inhibits a crucial parasite enzyme

supported by evidence provided by the scientists. These findings were recently published in the journal Scientific Reports, with Elizabeth Bilsland as the first author. In the paper, the scientists discuss why triclosan is especially promising as an antimalarial. They suggest that triclosan’s multiple effects may be enable it to fight the parasite at different stages of its life cycle. Furthermore, triclosan was shown to be effective against a form of Plasmodium DHFR that is resistant to existing drugs, providing one potential solution against the growing issue of parasite resistance. In addition to the promise of potential new drugs, it is perhaps equally stimulating to consider the possibilities for the use of robots in scientific research. Many scientific experiments require researchers to sift through large libraries of molecules to find what they are looking for, be it a new drug, or a disease-causing gene. The use of robotic tools can facilitate

such repetitive processes greatly, and narrow down molecules of interest that scientists can devote their energies on. This was indeed the case for this paper, in which Robot Scientist Eve carried out a large-scale experiment that identified triclosan as an inhibitor of Plasmodium DHFR from many other molecules. Scientists then focused on triclosan, performing three other analyses that provided further substantiation for their claims. Artificial intelligence (A.I.) is now widely used in scientific research. A recent example related to drug discovery is a paper by Kumar and colleagues which reports how computer programs can be used to calculate how much a drug might bind to plasma proteins in the blood. This is an in silico model, which involves only computational simulations rather than real-world experimentation. Robot Scientist Eve, in contrast, was programmed to carry out actual experiments assessing how different substances were affecting enzyme activity.

More extensive use of A.I. in laboratories is expected

More extensive use of A.I. in laboratories is expected to accelerate research in the coming years. “Robot Scientists” may soon be constructed with the necessary programming to perform more complex experiments, possibly even using computational simulations and machine learning to choose the best real-world experiments to carry out. While disease spread and drug resistance remain major health issues, innovations in pharmacology hold promise for drug discovery. Pzucchel via wikimedia commons


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15 February 2018 • The Cambridge Student

Features

Guide on how to support your friends: a review

Experience and represen

Jane O’Connor Features Editor

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he 22 of January marked the launch of the 2018 edition of ‘How to support your friends’. The guide was originally written by Sophie Buck, CUSU’s Welfare and Rights Officer 201617, and the new edition is revised and illustrated by the current Welfare and Rights officer, Micha Frazer-Carroll. “It’s likely your friends will require support, at some point” begins the 22page booklet, which details what kinds of support you can give your friends during your time at Cambridge, contains a guide to the technique of active listening, and provides several pages of resources for helping with everything from romantic relationship issues to homesickness. One of the key arguments that the guide makes is that friendship is a key part of welfare. It cites several studies showing that when students experience mental distress, they are significantly more likely to turn to their friends than they are to consult a family member, GP, tutor, counsellor, or any other kind of professional. This, Sophie and Micha argue, means that it is incredibly helpful for friends to have basic knowledge of the techniques outlined in the guide. The guide itself is incredibly comprehensive. Sometimes it is as simple as highlighting the importance of eye contact and nodding when your friend is describing a stressful situation to you – other times it suggests how you might delicately follow a conversational lead when you fear that a friend might be a risk to themselves. These pieces of advice are absolutely invaluable, as many students feel overwhelmed when thrust into these kinds of difficult interpersonal scenarios, and can feel very overwhelmed. The advice contained within the guide is compiled from College Welfare Officer

training guidelines, as well as from Student Minds’ guide entitled “Look After Your Mate” – it therefore contains a wealth of tried and tested strategies that can help foster good communication surrounding difficult topics and situations, and is presented in a clear, straight-forward tone devoid of offputting jargon or convoluted language. One of my favourite sections of the guide is its group of suggestions of fun things to do with a friend who needs support. It emphasises that your friend will still want to hang out with you socially, as they did before they came under the sort of pressure they did, but adds the important caveat that sometimes people just won’t feel up to these things. It offers some suggestions, such as doing facemasks or making dinner together, which may not seem like obvious ways to help a person experiencing something difficult, but which may in fact help them a great deal. The guide has a specific focus on mental illness, but notes that this is not the only thing that is likely to cause a student distress during their studies – and that not all stress can be classified as mental illness. This is an important misconception to dispel, as ‘mental health’ is often used as a kind of buzzword that disregards the nuance that people feel is important to articulating their experiences. The key services the guide suggests are not only mental health-focused ones (such as the University Counselling Service or the Disability Resource Centre), local services for sexual and physical health, and things run by CUSU and JCRs, but also extend to things like college parents or tutors. Something which can be a concern to people who are helping a friend with a

difficult situation is how to take care of themselves. ‘How to support your friends’ does not at all neglect this topic, giving important guidelines on setting boundaries, knowing your limits, and taking care of yourself. It suggests that these things be shared among a group of friends rather than just one individual, and expresses that sometimes, problems get to a stage where they can’t just be handled by an untrained friend, and that

at these times it is best to refer your friend to another service. All in all, the guide is a wonderful and accessible booklet, filled with considered and compassionate advice. I believe that it is so important for people to know how to help their friends, as these kinds of issues do invariably come up in life. The advice that Sophie Buck prepared for this guide, and which Micha FrazerCarroll revised, should be read by everyone.

My experience moving to Cambridge as a twin Devika Agarwal

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nlike many Indians who study at Cambridge, I do not have close relatives in London or anywhere else in the UK. This, however, did not worry my father when I left to study abroad because I was not really going to be alone in a new country - my twin sister, Radhika, was also going to London to study. In many ways, having a twin is not very different from having other siblings or close friends - it feels the same. Imagine having a best friend who is literally the same age as you separated only by a few minutes! With Radhika, I get to explore London and Cambridge and try new experiences and cuisines. This is not

because Radhika & I are identical in all aspects of our personalities, indeed we differ in many aspects. Radhika is a traveller, whereas, I like my comfort zone too much to readily travel to a new place. Even these differences, however, are important as they cause me to stop and reconsider whether my perspective (when it differs from my twin’s) is indeed the best in a given situation. We also know that we can count on each other to be there in the thick and thin- I motivate Radhika to rekindle her love for running and Radhika in turn makes sure that I keep writing. When life in Cambridge becomes too overwhelming, I feel lucky to have a refuge in London, and when

Radhika comes here, she loves to cook for me. With Radhika close by, I seldom feel alone or isolated for long. In one aspect, twins do differ from other siblings- in my case, it is the telepathic bond which my twin and I share with each other. Contrary to what is portrayed in the movies, this does not mean that when one twin gets physically hurt, the other twin ‘feels’ the pain physiologically. It means simply that twins somehow are able to get how their twin is feeling at any time without being physically close to them- it is best described as a premonition. This “twin-tuition” also has its sideeffect. As Radhika & I share this bond, I expect

Twins are able to get how their twin is feeling

all my other friends also to be as tuned in to my feelings at all times as my twin is, without expressly communicating with my friends how I feel. However, I don’t define myself as a twin. I am glad that my twin and I are in different cities because we get to develop as individuals and create a separate identity for ourselves with our own set of friends, interests and experiences. One’s mistakes become a lesson for the other, and Radhika & I always have something new to share when we meet. That said, I wonder sometimes whether I would be as comfortable as I am in a new country right now, were it not for my twin being only a train away.


The Thursday Magazine

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what to watch around valentines’s day

7

perception fashion shoot

11

tasting the revolution


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welcome to the third thursday magazine of lent term this week’s issue is brimming with articles which promote seeing things from a new perspective. our amazing perception photoshoot should encourage you to look at the world from a new angle, whilst we hope to inspire with our fresh views of cultural objects. we also have some beautiful poetry concerning the different ways you can regard life itself. take a read, see what you can find - and never be afraid to look out at the world with a different attitude.

sex and relationships editor celia morris and nadia razali culture@tcs.cam.ac.uk fashion and beauty editor lydia karayianni fashion@tcs.cam.ac.uk books editor ellen birch culture@tcs.cam.ac.uk lifestyle editor holly macaskill lifestyle@tcs.cam.ac.uk theatre editor alex mirosevic-sorgo theatre@tcs.cam.ac.uk

15 February 2018 • The Thursday Magazine • The Cambridge Student

Culture 3 Georgio Konstandi

Modern perceptions of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’

Alasdair Glynn

Review: Phantom Thread

Theatre 8-9 Tasha May

Review: Pomona

Culture 4-5

Fashion 6-7

Moriyo Aiyeola

Photoshoot: Perception

What to watch this Valentine’s Day

Christopher Deane

Marvel’s Black Panther: a historic turning point in cinema?

Molly O’Gorman Rediscovered Classics: ‘The Palm-Wine Drinkard

Lifestyle 10-11

Styled by Cuckoo Clothing

Fiction 2&12

Holly MacAskill

Tom Bailey

How I came out to my mother and father

‘Freedom to Grieve’

Rebecca Ebner-Landy Review: Comic Sans Men

Super-powered salad pick-me-up

Lavinia Lavizani

Preview: Cambridge theatre weeks 5-6

Freedom to Grieve

You leave, and tell me I must stay here, hoping that though one door is closed, another is opening.

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Models Becky van Pelt Munira Rajkotwalla Lydia Karayianni

Jadzia Wars

all other enquiries editor@cam.ac.uk

advertise in the thursday magazine contact christina.turner@cusu.cam.ac.uk

Photographers Johannes Black

Anonymous

creative writing editor tasha may culture@tcs.cam.ac.uk

interested in photography or illustration? contact editor@tcs.cam.ac.uk to be featured in tcs.

Creative Directors Lydia Karayianni Molly Moss Juliette Bretan

Jadzia Wars

Nuances at Dawn


15 February 2018 • The Thursday Magazine • The Cambridge Student

Culture

Modern perceptions of “A Streetcar Named Desire”

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Georgio Konstandi

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hoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. ~ Blanche Dubois

It is my favourite quote, said by one of my favourite characters in modern theatre. It encapsulates the very essence of being alone in a fastpaced world. And God, haven’t we all known how that feels at least once in our lives? For those of you who have not had the opportunity to read the script or watch the production of it on stage, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire follows the story of a former Southern Belle, Blanche Dubois, as she attempts to claw her way out of a past dominated by lonely misjudgement and heartache by constructing a multifaceted facade of prosperity and fortune to fool a suitor in America’s New industrial South. As I didn’t watch a production of Streetcar until after I’d read the published text, it was up to my imagination to join the dots of Tennessee Williams’ meticulously described characters.

Review: Phantom Thread Alasdair Glynn

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he last film Daniel Day-Lewis shot with writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson – 2007’s There Will Be Blood – was a fascinating dive into the mind of oil baron and cinematic bastard Daniel Plainview. This new film, Phantom Thread, announced as DayLewis’ last, is much more intimate, playfully juggling the perspectives of its three major characters – the brilliant but juvenile Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis), his stark, witty sister Cyril (Leslie Manville), and the graceful, genuine outsider Alma (Vicky Krieps). Full of delicious scenery and intense, desolate longing, Phantom Thread gives and gives and gives, whilst still coming together effortlessly. The film centres around the relationship between the bachelor-dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock and his new muse, Alma, a strong-willed waitress ‘from the country.’ The House of Woodcock is a strictly regimented machine of socialite, ‘anti-chic’ dressmaking, haunted by the ghost of a deceased, almost Oedipal mother and administered by Reynold’s sister Cyril – a difficult place to be in for a woman like Alma, be it not for her ingenuity in keeping Reynolds under her peculiar spell. It’s a gothic romance which manages to be both nostalgic and contemporary, meticulously crafted and challenging. What is really impressive about Phantom Thread is how masterfully composed it is. The sets and the costumes and the performances all have the same lavishness as the intimate candlelit scenes of Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. The only thing that might offset your enjoyment of Phantom Thread is your own particular taste, a recurring non-issue

Streetcar is a rare example of a text from its period that allows for surprising interaction between the script and reader. From physical description, to the nuances of the character’s every move, even the atmosphere alone... Each page is saturated with the aura of its characters. While this is purposefully crafted for the benefit of the director, modern-day readers can indulge in a script where the stage directions allow for a meaty, prose-like plot. There’s more that sets this play apart from others of its kind. Its self-conscious theatricality, its attention to the politics of 1940s America, among other things. The jewel in the crown of Tennessee Williams’ chef-d’oeuvre is by far its tragic heroine: Blanche Dubois. When first reading the play, I was convinced that people would share my disdain for the gang-like offensive against Blanche by her male peers. This was not the case. To my surprise, most of the boys I talked to about it could not see the misogyny to which Blanche is subjected. They could not see the hypocrisy of men who cheat on and beat their wives pointing the finger at a woman

with a promiscuous past. Stanley’s raping of Blanche did little more than make them squirm in their seats, as they insisted, on some level, that the perpetrator evokes a sense of awe from the reader thanks to his alpha-male prowess. Of course, you may read Streetcar and find you agree with my former classmates. You would be entitled to do so. Alternatively, you may join my view: that the castigation of Blanche for wanting to start afresh, to give herself another chance in life as so many of us have and will continue to do in our society filled with pitfalls, is nothing more than an expression of the institutionalised disrespect for women in Blanche’s society. In an era of #MeToo, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire raises questions about today’s world that frankly need answering. Who decides that a woman is too liberal with her body? Why are we inclined to glorify male sexual predators? And when will we begin to educate our boys that respect is the most attractive trait a spouse can ask for? To be decided.

in all of Paul Thomas Anderson’s films. He is such a smart filmmaker that nothing in any of his films feels misplaced or ill-conceived. Phantom Thread’s a challenging film whose storytelling harks back more to the films of Powell and Pressburger than it does to those of Spielberg, and if anything will turn viewers away, it is that. For those who appreciate gothic character dramas though, there is a huge amount to admire. Every single aspect of Phantom Thread has a purpose, a reason to be there. Character interactions are riveting because Anderson’s writing has such a tight grasp of the conflicts that can arise by simply placing two or more characters together, with their little eccentricities and insecurities. He showed that with 2012’s The Master, and he redisplays that here, creating gripping, hilarious scenes full of tension and depth. Conflicts play out not over battlefields but over breakfast tables, festooned with pots of tea, racks of toast, mushrooms and jam. No strawberry jam, though, and no ‘squishy things’ – for Woodcock detests such things, and Reynolds Woodcock is a very particular man. These little particularities make the

dinner scenes of the film some of the most compelling of the year. Jonny Greenwood composed the score for Anderson’s last three films – There Will Be Blood, The Master and Inherent Vice – he does again here. It’s as lush as Mark Bridges’ extravagant costumes, while remaining just as sad and erratic as his work on There Will Be Blood, full of pain and abject lonelines. If anything, Phantom Thread demonstrates what can happen when highly creative people come together with the best intentions to make something great. I hasten to use the word ‘auteur’ when talking about Paul Thomas Anderson, not because he isn’t, but because his films benefit most from pitch-perfect working relationships. In what may be his final film role, Daniel Day-Lewis gives up part of the screen for Vicky Krieps and Leslie Manville, and it works immensely, producing neither a swan-song, nor an ego-project, but a great film. All I want is to see it again and to let its absorbing atmosphere wash over me once more. FOCUS FEATURES VIA YOUTUBE


4 Culture

15 February 2018 • The Thursday Magazine • The Cambridge Student

What to watch this Valentine’s Day

Moriyo Aiyeola Film & TV Editor

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alentine’s Day is either the subject of loathing or excitement. It’s another commercial holiday we can’t seem to avoid: everywhere is pink extravagance and discounted set menus for. For those hopeless romantics without a date (even a RAG blind date) TCS has got you covered to help you feel as loved up as everyone else will seem to be. Why put yourself through the potential awkwardness of a date when you can be confidently swept away by the romance of our onscreen favourites? We have put together a top five list of recommendations, with Titanic and The Notebook out of sight. Call Me By Your Name was the festival darling last year, allowing audiences to be swept away by a summer romance between an American graduate student and the son of the professor he goes to stay with in Italy. Lead actors Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet deliver exceptional performances, creating unbelievable chemistry in this touching production. Possibly one of the most romantic films put to the screen in the last decade, it will have your heart and emotional capacity brimming to the surface with those feels. Luckily, for those that missed its cinema run, it will be showing at the St John’s Picturehouse this weekend. Moonrise Kingdom, directed by Wes Anderson, has the distinctive visual and narrative flair that one would come to expect from the director, but this charming tale of prepubescent love has to be considered one of his best. About two pre-teens that fall in love and run away, it’s quirky, fairytale-like and dead-pan witty. A cast full of stars and big names, this

one will make you wish you were back in school and with your first love all over again. Last year’s Moonlight demonstrated cinema’s ability to be intersectional and honest, offering a raw depiction of a black gay man raised in the hood. Our protagonist, Chiron, experiences a complicated love story that is to some extent unfulfilled. This coming of age narrative takes him through moments of wonder, discovery, sexual awakening, pain and joy, we are right there with him. It’s moving, beautiful and not to be missed. Romeo + Juliet - yes, the Baz Luhrmann version. It will always be a 90s classic and as completely bombastic as his films always are. There is so much style layered onto this modern Shakespeare adaption that it catches you off guard, paving the way for a second half that is a rampant descent into chaos, violence and tragedy. It was the film that put Leonardo DiCaprio firmly on the teenage radar before Titanic came along. He is the impeccable romantic lead; boyishly handsome, charismatic and the driving force behind the chemistry of the two leads which successfully provides the emotional core of this extravaganza. West Side Story will always be one of the greatest musicals ever made. It’s the music, singing, innovative choreography and powerhouse performances by actors such as Rita Moreno which makes this one timeless. Most people know one of the musical numbers even without seeing the film. But once everyone has, Tony and Maria will be the romantic duo cemented in minds as a pair matched in heaven. SONY PICTURE CLASSICS VIA YOUTUBE

Marvel’s Black Panth turning point in the Christopher Deane

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s a long-time sufferer of superhero movie fatigue, it is not in my nature to find myself breathlessly anticipating Marvel’s next movie. Black Panther however, is different. Different in ways that Hattie McDaniel, the first black American to win an Oscar for his role as a house slave in Gone with the Wind, could only have dreamt of. If all your life you’ve had the privilege of turning on the television or going to the cinema and not seeing your likeness stare back at you in the form of a ghettoised stereotype, if pop culture and your education have not taught you to believe that your people’s history began with the Atlantic slave trade, or if you never had to go out of your way to find out that people of your race could be superheroes too, the significance of this film might be lost on you, but take it from me, your humble messenger - this is a big deal. Beyond the obvious statement of progress conveyed by a titular black superhero and a predominantly black cast, the fictional

landscape of the film is Wakanda, a technologically advanced country in East Africa, which has never been colonised and awakens the possibility of an uncolonized Africa in the audience’s imagination. Moreover, the Black Panther’s powers originate from ancestral knowledge, intelligence and wealth. Here, black director Ryan Coogler incites pride in the African diaspora’s heritage, foreign not only to the big screen, but to media at large. Another reason this film demands to be seen is its revelatory portrayal of black women within the paradigm of a superhero movie. Sadly, despite the success of DC’s recent film Wonder Woman, it did nothing to overturn the perception of black women, in the same way that white feminism leaves women of colour to fend for themselves. Black Panther on the other hand, boasts an array of multi-dimensional black female characters on equal footing with their male counterparts. Letitia Wright plays Shuri, lead scientist and smartest individual in the Marvel universe, providing an intelligent heroine for


5 Rediscovered Classics:

The Cambridge Student • The Thursday Magazine • 15 February 2018

MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT VIA YOUTUBE

Culture

‘The Palm-Wine Drinkard’ Molly O’Gorman

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her: a historic e world of cinema? young black girls to aspire to. Similarly, the Black Panther’s all-female personal guard, the Dora Milaje, is an equally refreshing diversion from the typical roles allocated to black women, if they are cast at all, in superhero franchises. Some have charged Black Panther with being a Hollywood export, appropriating African cultural elements for profit. However, these critics fail to appreciate the flux of being ‘African American’ (or ‘black British’ for that matter). The background of the director, producer, actors qualifies them to tell this story in a way that white America could not. So, two years after the #OscarsSoWhite was capped off by a Chris Rock monologue, can we fairly call Black Panther a turning point in cinema? Of course not. The path to fair representation is long and winding and cannot be decisively altered by a single blockbuster. What we can call Black Panther though, is a definite step in a positive direction. The Black Panther was added to the Marvel Universe in 1966 and for much of its existence, a film that was as true to the

character’s ethnicity as this one would have been inconceivable. Though, directors’ chairs remain overwhelmingly white and male, with no women nominated for the Best Director category at the Golden Globes for two consecutive years. In a tweet announcing her intention to buy out an entire theatre in Mississippi, in order to allow underprivileged children to look up and “see themselves as superheroes”, the actress Octavia Spencer attached the hashtag “KingsAndQueensWillRise”. It won’t be the predicted record breaking take at the worldwide box office that will define Black Panther as a success. It won’t even be the critical merit of the film, although it is being touted as the best Marvel film to date. Its success will be black boys and girls in the audience realising that they too can be superheroes. As I have often heard said (Hollywood has wilfully perpetuated) you can’t be, what you can’t see – so rise kings and queens, and each take a step forward. I’ll be there opening night.

first heard about The Palm-Wine Drinkard a few months ago when a lecturer mentioned that it was a classic of postcolonial literature. I wrote it down on my Christmas list in the middle of November and promptly forgot about it until Christmas morning, when I was presented with a copy. Of the many books I received that morning, it was the first I turned to. It looked like a gentle read – a paperback of few more than one hundred pages incongruously slipped in with the rest of the tomes I needed for next term – and the luridly patterned cover drew my eye. I have rarely been so refreshed by a book as by The Palm-Wine Drinkard. The first African novel (Tutuola was Nigerian) published in English beyond Africa, it tells the story of the eponymous ‘drinkard’: a man addicted to palm wine, whose rich father pays for his tapster so that the drinkard’s supply of palm wine is unlimited. When the tapster dies unexpectedly, the unnamed protagonist must go to Dead Town to retrieve the tapster to resume his supply of palm wine. On the way, he encounters obstacles as varied as the spirits of the dead, a skull who borrows body parts to dress as a gentleman and kidnap young women and a terrible baby born from his wife’s thumb who threatens the world. Yet such is Tutuola’s style that we accept this. Published in 1952, it’s often seen as one of the first examples of magical realism, where the irrational is inherent to the world view of the novel. Tutuola effortlessly intertwines Yoruba folklore with the narrative of a quest to create a novel unlike any other in the 1950s. His use of pidgin English is deliberate, creating a world set apart from the traditional narrative of the Western novel. In the words of Wole Soyinka: “What an imaginative rupture of spelling, to have turned a negative association into a thing of acceptance, if not exactly

approval. Not ‘drunkard’ but – ‘drinkard’. Difficult to damn ‘drinkinness’ with the same moralistic fervour as drunkenness. The social opprobrium attached to the grammar-strict word is dissipated and the anti-hero is accepted as a first-rate raconteur.” And it’s true – we don’t condemn the ‘drinkard’ as we might the drunkard. Drunkard is an economic term; like lout, it represents someone who spends that precious commodity, time, irresponsibly. But ‘drinkard’ – that is a word totally unknown to us, and suggests a relationship with both language and alcohol which is totally defined by the protagonist. It’s something new, something subversive, something exciting. Unsurprisingly, regarding The PalmWine Drinkard as a classic has always been somewhat controversial. It was panned when it was first published; Tutuola’s hybrid English was seen as a mark of nearilliteracy in Europe, whilst African critics derided it for presenting African people as superstitious alcoholics. It was the opinion of Dylan Thomas, later backed up by influential Western thinkers like Sartre, that swung public opinion, as the established Western critic unfortunately could and can. It now has a firm place in the postcolonial canon, but not the mainstream fame of the novels of Tutuola’s literary descendants Salman Rushdie and Garcia Marquez. Yet The Palm-Wine Drinkard will whisk you away into the magical world of the questing alcoholic, searching for an unlimited supply of palm wine in the midst of the monsters and spirits which inhabit his world. It’s hard to believe that the expansive world of Yoruba folk tale is condensed so easily into such a short book, yet Tutuola’s world will stay with me far longer than the Christmas afternoon I neglected my family for it. PIXABAY


6 Fashion

15 February 2018 • The Thursday Magazine • The Cambridge Student

PERCEPTION Creative Directors Lydia Karayianni Molly Moss

Models Becky van Pelt Munira Rajkotwalla Lydia Karayianni

Photographers Johannes Black

Styled by Cuckoo Clothing


The Cambridge Student • The Thursday Magazine • 15 February 2018

From left to right Becky wears: Nathalie V Kori Dress £138.95 Ilse Jacobsen Raincoat - Red Berry £110.00 Munira wears: Nice Things Linen Boxy Tee - Navy £49.95 Vilagallo Nicki Menorca jacket £219.00 Becks Palmier Scarf - £99.00 Mac Cosy Jeans £99.00 Lydia wears: Vilagallo Neon Tilda Shirt £145.95 Great Plains Essentials Classic Tee £22.50 Dansk Scarf 39.90 Mac Dream Skinny Jeans - Red £99.00 Cuckoo Clothing Award winning boutique in the centre of Cambridge! Cuckoo owners Michelle and Kate handpick collections that mix quirky designs with practical items for everyday wear. 4 St Mary’s Passage, Cambridge CB2 3PQ http://cuckooclothing.co.uk

Fashion

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15 February 2018 • The Thursday Magazine • The Cambridge Student

Theatre

Review: Comic Sans Men 8/10 Rebecca Ebner-Landy

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he witty and intelligent title of Comic Sans Men promised a night of female-empowering, engaging comedy, and a talented, creative and funny cast. It was refreshing for me to be able to watch a show comprised solely of brilliant and beautiful women! Improv, of course, is no easy feat to do well, but the eight performers pulled off a wide range of really funny sketches loosely fitted around the themes of music, oldpeople and dildos. What better combination, you may ask? The host Bella Hull introduced the show by asking for audience suggestions of themes, and then expanding on the given theme by telling her own loosely related anecdotal stories. This enabled the cast to draw inspiration from her own thoughts. Bella responded to the first suggestion of music, for instance, with a hilarious anecodate of a youth orchestra trip she embarked on years ago. The improv actors punned on this throughout the first section, weaving musical references into their sketches. The second section was themed around old people and dildos (a seemingly strange combination recommended by the audience). The pared back set with a single pianist, who accompanied the action, was effective given that the sketches did not need an elaborate setting. The scenes worked well by themselves as the actors, all dressed in black, supported the show with the virtue of their own wit. That being said, the first section of the play was definitely more tightly woven together, with fresh jokes and strong thematic continuity.

The second lagged a little with some jokes being repeated and unnecessarily drawn out. Nevertheless, the cast worked commendably well together as a unit, tapping in and out of sketches almost seamlessly (there was inevitably the odd slip-up, but such is improvised acting). The actors appears to be really able to play to each other’s strengths, repeatedly pushing each other outside of their comfort zones. They encouraged the other actors to sing, dance, recite poetry and when the momentum was lagging, someone was always quick to tap into the action and introduce a new sketch. It seemed like in the rehearsal stage they really had put hard work into bonding, learning about each other’s acting abilities and therefore being able to collaborate in a truly amusing way. The wealth of ideas that each of them came up with was extremely impressive and there was such a positive audience response. A special mention must go to Francesca Bertoletti for her innovative characterisation and engaging physical movement. Rachel Loughran also deserves particular attention for both her impromptu musicaltheatre number and for impressively using her voice to distinguish between so many different roles. I thoroughly enjoyed this original, funny and captivating show. The audience certainly seemed to agree, which was reflecting in the multiple standing ovation they gave. I would therefore really recommend going to watch the show, if there are any tickets still going! LAURA WELLS

Review: ‘dystopian’ Tasha May

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omona made me find a young boy’s dream of ejaculating into the faces of the terminally ill and elderly, beautiful (trust me). The drama produced touching moments amidst absurdity, as well as offering humour in the bleak scenarios of its dystopian setting. It is a play patterned by duality (with most scenes two-handers exploring the dynamics of foil characters) but whose symmetry is consistently and intriguingly undermined by inversions and its non-linear plot. Individual scenes gripped me through their exploration of intimate character relationships, while the jumps in chronology and between story-lines, that characterised the overall structure, engaged the audience on a different level. Unlike the earliest science fiction novels, which utilised an immediate ‘info-dump’ style of establishing futuristic settings, Pomona followed in the steps of more sophisticated twenty-first century dystopian world-building like Kazuo

Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, which render their visions of an alternative future all the more harrowing through postmodern styles of narration, only gradually revealing their disturbing prophecies. The audience’s imagination was kept busy by both the script’s purposeful ambiguities and gaps in knowledge, and the minimal choice of set (composed of blank walls, scotch-tape grid laid across the floor and glowing cubes as props). While the sparseness of Corpus’ stage suited the futuristic setting, it also participated in amplifying the disorientation of the play’s structure. Nevertheless, where the set design was bare, much of the atmosphere was effectively created through musical interludes that accompanied not only scene changes, but also moments where the music seemed to externalise societal attitudes and individual characters’ internal psychology. The play’s eclectic range of characters was brought to life with excellent performances by the whole cast. The


The Cambridge Student • The Thursday Magazine • 15 February 2018

Theatre

Preview: Cambridge Theatre Weeks 5-6

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Lavinia Lavizani

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EMIL SANDS

’ Pomona 8/10 play opened in media res of an exuberant monologue delivered by Zeppo (Benedict Clarke), which set the tone for the blackly comic and morally problematic universe of the subsequent action. The energy with which the play began was impressively maintained throughout its first half, intensified even, in particularly striking moments of rage created by Gale (Dolores Carbonari) and Moe (Harry Redding) respectively. However, the play’s latter half on its opening night began to lag somewhat. Noticeable silences at first highlighted the audience’s intense interest in what was happening on stage. However, as moments of silence became more frequent, they indicated that the pace had slackened. Nevertheless, despite its slower latter half, the play’s conclusion proved perhaps the most impressive moment of the production. In a transfixing episode of physical theatre, the mysteries of what had been going on underground were unfolded in a

mesmerising sequence of movement and dialogue performed by the entire cast. Overall, the directorial choices were strong and presented what was a very challenging production in a sophisticated manner. The attention to detail and sense of a coherent thematic direction of the play were conveyed from the outset by the preset and post-set decision to have characters covered in plastic sheets toying with rubix cubes in a way that foreshadowed the cyclical complicities of ignorance the play problematises. And by returning to the same positions at the end, the audience had an added awareness that the same events would be produced by the actors the next night. As though they have already returned to their pre-set poses for the next performance (to be preserved under the plastic sheet for twenty-two hours), the production ends with a disturbing sense of events repeating themselves.

eady for more Cambridge theatre? Prepare to travel far and wide from the usual hives of Corpus and ADC (though they will not be forgotten). Week 5 brings much to be seen. The fifth annual Italian-language production by the Cambridge Italian Society at RobinsonMorte Accidentale di Un Anarchico: The Accidental Death of an Anarchist (Thursday 15th- Saturday 17th). The city is in uproar following news of the mysterious death of an anarchist who fell from a window during a police interview. The police is in panic, fearing the population will begin to riot. With the arrival of a mysterious newcomer, their situation is made worse as he embroils the police in a series of games, ranging from the ridiculously farcical to the deadly serious. Also that weekend, Sofa on the Mile (Fitzpatrick Hall, Queens) takes us back to the summer of the Edinburgh Fringe, as three actors, a director and a producer emerge from the last night of their show worn out by their performance and each other. Now they only need to transport their one piece of set, a sofa, from the pavement on the Royal Mile back to their accommodation. A sharp new tragicomedy about youth, hurt and endings, about the things that are gone by morning, and the things that refuse to be left behind. At the ADC, Wander explores Faryn, a girl used to keeping to herself, living alone in a huge tree with only her guardian to keep her company, and only storytelling to pass the time, and life is comfortable and predictable, that is until she ventures further from the tree than ever before. The Lateshow presents Boys will be Boys, by Melissa Bubnic, a story about how people adapt to survive in an environment where

toxic masculinity is held in highest esteem. As a Valentine’s treat, Cambridge’s most wholesome Drag Collective are coming to present you with: Dragtime!: Speed Date. *Hosted by the gorgeous Princess Porcelynn* So, lonely hearts come one and all to meet the most beautiful Kings, Queens, and inbetweens that Cambridge has to offer! At Corpus, the award-winning satire on terrorism and nationalism, The Lieutenant of Inishmore depicts Mad Padraic, hard at work torturing a drug pusher when the news comes through that his beloved cat is poorly. Thus, he heads back to the island of Inishmore., but when he arrives home, he discovers shenanigans involving shoe polish, an assassination plot, and a teenaged gun-toting admirer. In Week 6, The CUOS mainshow is the operatic highlight of the Cambridge calendar, this year bringing Donizetti’s sparkling comedy, L’Elisir D’amore (The Elixir of Love), to West Road Concert Hall. Sung in Italian (with English surtitles), and with full orchestra and chorus; this is a fully-staged production, suitable for all the family. The Bard meanwhile is returning to the stage with Corpus’ mainshow: Coriolanus. Amid battle, a Roman soldier of great renown defends his city from invasion by his sworn enemy. However, following the victory, Coriolanus must face the demands of potential famine, a divided senate and restless citizenry. The Lateshow, in contrast, brings us I.M.P.R.O.V.: an Improvised Sitcom, as the Impronauts bring a new sitcom to Cambridge every night for one glorious week. Weeks 5 and 6 bring an array of comedy, drag, opera and thriller, so don’t miss out on getting tickets. ALEX POWER


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15 February 2018 • The Thursday Magazine • The Cambridge Student

How I came out to my mother and father Anonymous

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came out to my mum on 2 May 2015. I remember because it was the same day that Princess Charlotte was born. But, more significantly (sorry, Charlotte), I remember sitting in my room with a dull feeling in my stomach, reverberating and ringing with ‘I’m ready’, ‘It’s now or never’. I’d go to get up and go to my mum’s room where she was watching TV but then I’d stop and sigh and turn around. I was 18; it had been 7 years since I’d started jerking off to gay porn and it had been enough time for me to know it wasn’t just a phase or fad. So I stared at the ceiling in my bed, restless. Then I pulled the covers down, got up, and walked with false confidence to my mum’s room. ‘Oh God, you haven’t got someone pregnant have you?’ she asked when I said I needed to tell her something. I nearly laughed. ‘No, mum, I’m gay’. It’d feel like a cliché to use a metaphor about waves of relief washing over me but that’s how it felt. She sighed, with sympathy rather than disappointment, and said, ‘You’re still having grandchildren’. I count myself incredibly lucky with how both my parents responded. Although my mum, in an attempt to reassure me, said it was ‘just like having cancer – you can’t help if you have it or not’, she reassured me that nothing would change. Of course, things do change: I’m not shy about pointing out a really hot guy in front of her, or letting my eyes linger on a guy’s butt just that millisecond longer now. And my dad is forever asking me whether I have any ‘special friends’

Super-powered salad pick-me-up Holly MacAskill Lifestyle Editor

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ven though it may not be summer, it can be nice to make something that is quick and easy but also reminds you of a time when the sun is shining, and the temperatures are rising. Salads can have the reputation for being a bit dull and yes, if you just chuck some plain lettuce, onions and tomato into a bowl the results may not blow your mind. However, these salads are certainly ones to try – who can say no to a quick, cheap and tasty meal? These recipes have similar ingredients lists so once you try one you might as well try the other! Here are a few of my favourites:

Asian Courgette Ribbon Salad:

This salad is incredibly fresh and takes a spin on the normal tasting salad. With preparation and cooking time only taking 15 minutes, this one is quick to make and can soon become a favourite. You will need: 6 courgettes, 1 lettuce (not all needs to be

at university. Even if euphemism can get tiring sometimes, I think he just wants me to do go forth and, not multiply, but enjoy the possibilities out there for LGBT+ people nowadays. I definitely built up ‘coming out’ in my head more than I should have. But as a closeted queer person, you often feel like an outsider who’s there just to notice any veiled homophobia in a family conversation and then go and pick it apart for hours and wonder what would’ve happened or been said had they known that you’re actually a raging homosexual, who chokes his monkey multiple times a day to beefy daddies. Your head’s filled with these kind of long sentences. But you have to feel ready in yourself before you can go about telling people what’s what or how much you want to top your supervisor. I used to be perpetually anxious that I’d get caught out, that someone would force me into telling them why I hadn’t had a girlfriend or why I wasn’t interested in the girl who always had her trousers that little bit too low so you could see the top of her underwear. ‘Coming out’ is in itself a horrific concept; the conceit, metaphor or whatever it is, of shutting yourself up inside some musty wardrobe until you either can’t stand the smell any more, or have found a suitably rainbow-bedecked outfit and discovered a megaphone which you can shout “I’M GAY” into, is terrifying for anyone. Could you imagine straight people coming out? It wouldn’t surprise me if they

started doing it soon, considering how often straight people appropriate LGBT+ slang and habits. The important thing to remember is not to give a shit. ‘Coming out’ is an incredibly personal thing. You can do it how you want to, when you want to; you don’t even have to do it at all. Another cliché for you: be yourself, and if that involves being a walking wardrobe like something from Beauty and the Beast then so be it. But the sooner you really start being true to who are you, doing the things you like and the people you like, you’ll find that the weight of the bearing that giant wardrobe will get a whole lot easier.

used), ginger, handful of fresh red chillies, soy sauce, bunch of coriander, 1 lime, sesame seeds, 1 cucumber, olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper

piece of ginger, 1 red chilli, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 3 tablespoons of mirin, 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce, a dash of salt and some chopped coriander

1.

1. Cook the noodles and soya beans in a large saucepan of lightly salted boiling water for 4-5 minutes or until the noodles are done. Drain the noodles and beans well, return them to the pan and add the spring onions. Cover the pan and keep it warm

Toast your sesame seeds and set them aside.

2. Get a decent peeler and peel the courgettes from the top to the bottom (length-ways) so the result is long ribbons of courgette. Place the ribbons into a big salad bowl. 3. Do the same to the cucumber, but stop once you reach the watery core. Place these ribbons into the bowl too. 4. Add one lettuce, a large handful of toasted sesame seeds, a bunch of chopped coriander and as much grated red chilli as you are comfortable with. 5. Grate in half a knob of ginger, squeeze in the juice of one lime, pour in 4-5 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. 6. Once all the ingredients are in the bowl mix everything together. You can at this point sprinkle any spare sesame seeds or coriander over the top. To make this recipe non-veggie you can cook some chicken, carve it and add that to the salad!

Spicy Soya Bean and Noodle Salad:

Again this salad only takes 15 minutes to cook, and with the noodles can easily be made as a staple lunch or dinner! This recipe is made for 4 so adjust the ingredients up or down to make for however many you need. You’ll need: 250 g dried soba noodles, 250g podded soya beans, 6 spring onions to be thinly sliced, sesame seeds, 1 inch

FIETZFOTO

2. Heat a frying pan until it is hot and add the sesame seeds and dry-fry over a medium heat until lightly golden, then remove from the pan and set aside. 3. Peel and grate the root ginger into a bowl, then stir the remaining ingredients and mix well by tossing. 4. Ladle into some warm bowls, sprinkle the sesame seeds and chopped coriander over the salad and serve.

KAROLINA


15 February 2018 • The Thursday Magazine • The Cambridge Student

Lifestyle

Yes, lesbians really can have sex Natasha Blesing

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ast year some friends and I were asked by a close friend if “you ever have an overwhelming desire to have your vagina like, really filled?” Before anyone had a chance to answer, she turned to me: “Well actually, I suppose you never have, so you can’t.” She then proceeded to explain to me why my girlfriend’s fingers could never live up to her boyfriend’s “girthy” penis. In a desperate attempt to stop being patronised and disregarded in front of my friends, I informed her that I use a strap-on, so that whether she intended to be homophobic or not, I have also experienced sex that takes a very similar form to hers. Maybe, in that case, I’d ‘qualify’. Unfortunately, this was taken as an opportunity to mock my sexuality further: “Oh my God, everyone, Nat uses a strap-on!” Brilliant. I don’t think words can describe how angry I was that the incredibly passionate and thoroughly satisfying sex that I have with my girlfriend had just been tossed up as a joke for a table full of straight girls to giggle at. Instead of fighting my case, I took myself and my non-confrontational personality to the bathroom, which I thoroughly regret.

Tasting the revolution Cait Findlay

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n her kiss, I taste the revolution!’ So yells Kathleen Hanna in ‘Rebel Girl’ by Bikini Kill, the song for which the band is best known. It’s a loud and brash appraisal of how strong and powerful relationships between women can be and an ode to the strength of feminist solidarity. This particular line has always struck me as especially vivid, because it so succinctly describes the political and social implications that two women kissing can convey. I love it for its boldness, as well as for the sense of empowerment and fierceness that it provokes. As a queer person, you’re never entirely careless about how you express affection in public; you can never afford to be.

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However, it is the job of straight people to educate themselves on what is and isn’t homophobic, and never a requirement of an oppressed person to explain themselves to their oppressor. This wasn’t the first time my sexuality had been questioned: “Lesbian sex isn’t real sex as there’s no penis”; “So really, you only do foreplay”; “You’ll always be a virgin then”. Why people think they have the right to bother me with their belittling, homophobic comments is beyond me, and it needs to stop. The immature argument used ever more frequently by people having lesbian sex that at least both(/all) parties orgasm is equally unnecessary. In actual fact, it is hypocritical. Why hit back at comments that invalidate homosexuality with ones that invalidate heterosexuality? Such defensive arguments are entirely unnecessary, especially considering that the reality of lesbian sex (and all sex for that matter) can be so exceptional that it speaks for itself. Recently, I saw a very refreshing take on the definition of sex on the Clue period tracker app: ‘Sex is an act of doing something a person feels is sexual’. Here, breadth is key. This encompasses any number of people with any gender and any genitals, doing anything that they wish to define as sexual.

Invalidity imposed by a definition no doubt written by heterosexual people, set to alienate anyone but them, is abolished. Perhaps celebrating sex in all the incredible forms it comes in (pun intended), is the way to go.

There’s always the glance over your shoulder, or the look in both directions, before you take your partner’s hand or kiss them goodbye. This is an uncomfortable pragmatism, absolutely, and one which we wish we could render unnecessary, but constantly thinking about safety doesn’t just reflect a social problem with queer intimacy due to a history of ingrained heteronormativity and homophobia. It also invests gestures of affection between two people with an element of transgression and subversion that is never read into the same gestures performed between two people who appear to be straight. Sometimes, it’s incredibly useful to be able to manipulate the element of transgression with which kissing someone of the same gender is invested in wider society. The kiss-in to protest Jacob Rees-Mogg’s appearance at the Cambridge Union is an example of how, collectively, queer people can mobilise and use such an incredibly simple gesture to make a strong statement of presence, unity, and power. On a smaller scale, it can also feel personally empowering, like the smallest, simplest middle finger up to the people who don’t mind gay people existing, but would prefer them not to be public about it. It’s an assertion of normality and love, even if the majority of people view it as so much more subversive an act that it actually is. It’s also frustrating that there is such a disparity between

perceptions of queer affection between two people assumed to be male, compared to two people read as female. The fetishisation of lesbians juxtaposed alongside a vehement disgust at intimacy between gay men is a cliché at this stage. As a brief aside, this has been something I’ve found particularly frustrating while voraciously rewatching ‘Friends’; alongside many other examples of sexism and homophobia, when you get to the sixth series, the guys’ slobberingly enthusiastic interest in seeing two girls kissing is no longer even worth the energy of an eye-roll. From the perspective of someone whose relationships are fetishised by the Chandlers and Joeys of the world, it’s particularly frustrating when you have to consider voyeurism, and not just personal safety, as part of the harassment you might be subject to. Ultimately, we cannot divest expressions of queer intimacy of all their imbued meaning and implications. As long as there are bigots, particularly of the don’t-ask-don’ttell variety, there will be ogling, fetishisation, and uncertain levels of safety. We’re relatively fortunate to be living in a country where perceptions are far more progressive than in other parts of the world, but this doesn’t mean we can’t feel and express frustration with our own situation. And if nothing else, I’m always happy to accept revolutionary status for even the smallest acts of resistance.

TANIA SAIZ

TONY WEBSTER


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15 February 2018 • The Thursday Magazine • The Cambridge Student

Culture

Nuances at Dawn I. Picture the pier stretching into the sea. The sun rises slowly over the waves. The waves wash slowly over the rocks. Behind, in the distance, the Montgo is being the mountain it always is when it is really looked at. II. Picture the pier creeping into the sea like a shadow stretched long out and dark. The rocks cajole the frothy, morning waves. Behind, distantly, the Montgo hunches its back to heaven in a new perception’s behemothic birth. III. Picture the pier. The sea whirls purpled in the undulation of morning light. The waves begin their madrigals. Behind, distant, the Montgo, oh! El Elefante Durmiendo! Join the ending of the night! Grasp this harmony!

Tom Bailey

tcs.cam.ac.uk instagram: tcsnewspaper twitter: tcsnewspaper facebook: the cambridge student


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The Cambridge Student • 15 February 2018

Features

ntation in Cambridge

KITYA MARK

On losing my mum before arriving at Cambridge

Astrid Godfrey

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y mum died on the 14th October 2016. I need to get this out in the open. It’s Freshers’ Week, I’ve just met you, and the thought that you don’t know this yet scares me. So I tell you and we fall silent. A mumbled sorry, another sip of our drinks, and the conversation moves on. Simultaneously brushed over and the most significant thing I’ve confessed all evening. Having been through the process of my mother slowly being torn away from me by cancer has fundamentally shaped the way I am today. And yet, the statement “My mum’s dead” is just a fact, a fact that’s humming quietly uninterrupted just under the surface of my thoughts. When vocalised, this low pitched murmur has the ability to silence a room. A superpower I’d rather not have, I can make a whole table of people at formal feel awkward with a few words. I play it down. It’s easier to joke than to open yourself up fully, I say I’m okay now, but I carry this emotional baggage with me everywhere and sometime it gets too heavy for me to manage. When meeting new people, conversation often drifts to family, something that causes me to tense up and fills me with a dreadful sickness as I know that I am about to reveal something that singles me out as possessing a niche emotional hangover that few can understand. It is the moment where I, otherwise a ‘traditional’

Cambridge student, mark myself out as ‘different’. When anniversaries approach, and my supressed emotions resurface, and I find it hard to get to lectures, or focus on work, or to socialise, I start to realise that my experience of Cambridge is being shaped by the aftershocks of grieving. My dream of Cambridge has always been one I shared with my mum. In the hospice, she would tell her friends that I was going to Cambridge before I’d even submitted my UCAS form let alone received an offer, so strong was her belief in me. Moments here, which are meant to be happy, are tinted with sadness. When I did get my offer, the first person I wanted to call was my mum. When, after receiving a U in my mocks two months earlier, I got an A in Maths on results’ day and realised that my dream of attending Cambridge was going to become a reality, I wanted to share that joy with her too, to thank her for her belief in me. When signing the list of names that officially made me a member of Jesus College, I was heartbroken that my mother wasn’t sitting there next to my dad sharing the experience with me. My complex emotions have allowed me to feel the extent of Cambridge’s support, whether that be an understanding email from my DoS, or a perfectly timed offer of a cup of tea from a friend, or a hug when I am low and can’t express why. These are things that help the hum subside, and ensure that my past stops affecting my present.

Take care never to underestimate your JCR Evie Aspinall

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race yourselves! Election season is coming, and it’s bringing with it a barrage of social media events, unachievable manifesto pledges, poor puns, and profile picture changes. All of which you’ll likely ignore and cast aside in favour of watching a cute cat video or tagging your friend in a niche meme about which type of hummus you are. But this time when JCR elections come around, take a moment to listen. Junior Common Rooms remain an underappreciated asset to Cambridge life. In a our collegiate university system, CUSU can seem distant from the everyday needs of most students. As such, JCRs are often the first port of call for students for everything from college intermission policies and the cost of living, to the excessive use of coriander in the college buttery (Pembroke, I’m looking at you). The role of JCRs is extensive. In terms of welfare, not only are they constantly organising chilled events that usually involve free food (and if you’re lucky,

If you’re feeling brave, stand yourself!

the opportunity to pet cute dogs!) but they also provide a listening friendly ear, with welfare officers acting as a lifeline for many students struggling with the intensity of Cambridge. In an environment in which you’re surrounded by friends who are all busy and stressed, having someone take the time to listen to you is an invaluable support system. And when serious issues arise, welfare officers act as a friendly point of entry for students to access college support. Beyond welfare issues JCRs improve your daily college life in a variety of ways, often battling immense college bureaucracy on the behalf of students. And with the recent TCS revelations about immense college disparity in rent prices, and an increasing number of colleges adopting Cut The Rent Campaigns, JCRs are taking a fighting stance against colleges. It is therefore important, now more than ever, that JCRs are proactive and effective. The quality of your JCR can therefore have a significant impact on your time in Cambridge. Yes, they sometimes get bogged down in the minor issues. Yes, they might seem like an irrelevancy post

fresher’s week, and yes there will be JCR representatives that are there to inflate their CV. But as the elected student voice within college, they are in a unique position to act as the main lobbying power for students, and this power they have over college should be harnessed. To do this JCRs need more support. A large part of that is the need to extend and build upon the current support CUSU provides JCR officers. But it also requires JCR positions to be filled with proactive and passionate students. If you want a JCR that will fight on

student issues and provide pastoral support for those that need it, take the time to make sure you you need to elect the candidates who are capable of providing that. So, this election season don’t just blank your emails and your Facebook notifications. Don’t just vote for the person who uses the best pun, or who happened to live on your staircase in first year. Instead take the time to make a considered vote on who will best protect your rights within college and, if you’re feeling brave, maybe even stand yourself! JAMES ENNIS


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15 February 2018 • The Cambridge Student

Features

Why I relish being single by choice Devika Agarwal

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am single by choice. This is not out of disdain for romance. In fact, just today at dinner, a friend of mine remarked that I come across as a romantic. Let me then explain the paradox of being single by choice yet believing that one day I will find my soulmate. Like any ‘normal’ girl, I grew up to believe in knights, and princes, and happy ever-after endings. Like any ‘normal’ girl, I grew up to believe in the kind of love which lasts forever. What changed down the line was that I stopped defining myself by a romantic relationship. College for me was a growing up experience of sorts - in my early 20s I was convinced that I had found the love of my life even though he did not reciprocate my feelings. This started an agonising cycle of self-inflicted misery and a complete loss of mental peace because I had placed the object of my affection at the centre of my universe. Looking back, I feel that I could have done so much more in college if only I had not placed this kind of importance on being in a relationship I have realised that I am meant

for so much more than simply being someone’s lover. Of course, I want to experience romantic love someday and I believe that it can make my life very fulfilling. But my problem is with those who think that only romantic love can make life fulfilling. Romantic love is not the single most important thing in my life, and I have drawn a lot of contentment from following my passion for writing and swimming, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Pursuing a Master’s degree at Cambridge is a dream which I achieved after working very hard for two years after college. I wonder sometimes whether I would have been driven to work towards my professional goals had I remained single-mindedly focused on a crush the way I was in college. Recently, I have been trying to move on from someone I fell for after college. Through him, I discovered a love for oceans and I felt a connection I have never felt for anybody else before. Although we were only friends, his thoughts affected me when I first moved to Cambridge and made sense of this sea of change that moving

abroad brought. Last year during the Michaelmas break, I realised how unhealthy it was for me to be unhappy just because I was not in a romantic relationship with someone I liked. I realised that I was ‘throwing away’ my Cambridge experience by being unhappy over someone who was a thousand miles away. I didn’t like the person that I was becoming: someone who failed to appreciate what she had in life because she was too heart-broken. That’s when I started prioritising the things that should matter in my life - at present that is focusing on my studies in Cambridge and developing my personality. This has changed my life for the better and I am overall much happier in Cambridge than I was when I first arrived here. I don’t blame others like me who are ‘romantic at heart’ and take time to recover from heart-break. I find that we are unconsciously exposed to feeling that romantic love is necessary. Take, for instance, when a friend you run into after a very long time asks how your love life is. This seemingly innocuous inquiry can make us question whether it is in fact okay to be single.

Naomie Harris, who graduated from Pembroke College in 1998. The actress is known for her roles in Skyfall and Moonlight, the latter of which garnered her an Academy Award nomination. She has spoken about her struggle to fit into Cambridge because of her working-class background, but has also acknowledged that “as an actor you need to analyse your character’s formation, and my course in Social and Political Sciences examined society’s effects on the individual”. From the literary side are Sylvia Plath and Zadie Smith, two writers who have since become wildly influential. Plath obtained a Fulbright Scholarship to study at Newnham, where she studied English from 1955 to 1957. Some of her works such as her semi-autobiographical “Bell Jar” have become some of the most wellknown and most important of the modern British canon. Plath actively wrote poetry throughout her years at Cambridge, and it was during her first year that she met fellow poet Ted Hughes. Zadie Smith, meanwhile, read English at King’s College from 1994 to 1997. Her contributions to the anthology The Mays led to a contract for her first novel, White Teeth, which she finished in her final year. She returned to guest edit The Mays a few

years later. In an interview with Cambridge Authors, Smith noted that the literary theory and philosophy she studied were important to her forming “independent thought”, and that the amount she read for her course inspired her to write. Arianna Huffington, co-founder and former editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, studied economics at Girton College. She graduated in 1972, and was President of the Cambridge Union during her time at the University. Huffington was reportedly the third female president, and has spoken about being “transfixed by the Union from the beginning”. Although we are perhaps not aware that Huff Post is an abbreviation of her name, like Smith and Plath, Huffington too has become a household name. Further back in history is Sarojini Naidu, an Indian freedom fighter and poet. She studied at Girton College in the early 1980s, and participated in the suffragist movement in England. She later joined India’s Congress Movement and Mahatma Gandhi’s Noncooperation Movement Naidu even accompanied Gandhi to London in 1931 for the Round Table Conference.

There’s a lot to be said for loving yourself and your own company first. I used to count on the presence of a significant other in my life to fill an inexplicable “void” in my life; fortunately, I am wiser now. Your significant other should supplement your happiness but first you must be happy on your own. Love yourself and look pretty for yourself. Ask yourself, “Would I date the person I am?” If your answer is ‘no’, it indicates your dissatisfaction with some

aspect of your life. Do what you must to change the way you feel about yourself. These are inner conflicts and you cannot count on someone else to resolve them for you. I no longer actively “look” for romantic love. Whenever I find myself unhappy over my single status, I remind myself that there is much more to life than being someone’s significant other. I am happily single by choice. Pixabay

Powerful women alumni from Cambridge Caithlin Ng Deputy Editor

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f you were to google “famous Cambridge women alumni”, you would find that nearly all the search results are still exclusively about men. There is, of course, a historical aspect to it – despite Cambridge being founded in 1209, Girton College was only established as the first college for women in 1869, and women were only granted full membership of the University in 1948. Nevertheless, women alumni since then have become accomplished and celebrated in all kinds of industries, and the lack of information online about them is a gross underrepresentation of their achievements. Some of the most famous names come from the acting industry: acclaimed actress Emma Thompson matriculated at Newnham College in 1977, where she read English. She served as the Vice President of Footlights in 1980, turned to feminism during her time at university, and codirected Footlights’ first all-female revue. She has been the star of tens of blockbusters including Nanny MacPhee, Brideshead Revisited and the Boat That Rocked. A more recent graduate is

jillian tamaki via flickr


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The Cambridge Student •15 February 2018

Features

Features

The Long Read: We may have the vote, but first past the post means we definitely don’t have true democracy

Our government can never be truly representative of our country’s people under first past the post

Haneen Zeglam

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t’s been 100 years since Britain extended the franchise to include all men and a handful of women. 1918 set us on the path towards universal suffrage, although sadly, it still appears we haven’t made it there. I’m sorry to have to say it, but our democracy is failing us. Yes, every British citizen over 18 can vote and yes, postal voting and transport to polling stations can be arranged, but when we actually come to cast our votes into ballot boxes, how many of them are worth nothing at all? Our voting system is the elephant in the room that is our democracy. It’s time we pointed it out and recognised how it’s holding our country back. For someone now studying politics, I was embarrassingly late to realise what our First Past the Post system (FPTP) really means. I remember being sat in a Year 8 PSHE class as my teacher had to repeat to me several times that essentially, if you don’t vote for the winning candidate, you may as well not have voted at all. I was, for lack of a better word, shook. And being perfectly honest, I remain shaken to this day. Last year’s general election was the first time I could vote and in my postBrexit fit of fury, Tim Farron took advantage of my disappointment in Corbyn and somehow managed to sway me. However, my constituency of Manchester Gorton, for the many of you who probably don’t know, is officially one of the safest Labour seats in the country and so I went to the ballot box for the very first time completely despondent. My vote seemed absolutely unnecessary, and that should not be acceptable if our commitment to democracy is as strong as we like to think it is. Proportionally representative systems are used in the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, as well as the majority of the world’s leading democracies. Embarrassingly, only a few countries, including Britain, the US, India and

France, still lag behind. Under our current system the link between votes cast and seats won is tenuous at best. In 2015 UKIP won 12.6% of the vote but only 1 seat. Although I would strongly have preferred it if no one had voted UKIP at all, my opinion is irrelevant, because the votes were cast either way and those 12.6% deserved to be represented. And who knows, maybe a stronger UKIP presence from earlier on might have scared Cameron into dealing with people’s niggling irritations with the EU and feelings of disenfranchisement, before they snowballed into the train wreck that is Brexit. There isn’t any commitment to major voting reform from either the Conservatives or Labour, with Corbyn still dancing around the issue despite growing support for the cause amongst party members and MPs. Voting reform will never just be handed to us from those in power because of how it puts them at an obvious disadvantage. Just like the suffragettes had to fight for democracy in 1918, we have to continue to fight for democracy now. The struggle is in no way over. Just recently in 2016, MPs voted down a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Caroline Lucas to amend the Representation of the People’s Act and introduce an Additional Member System – a more proportionally representative method. The bill, despite being supported by a cross-party group of MPs, was ultimately rejected by 81 votes to 74. This is a close enough margin that means we can hope for the future. Ministers are apparently, ‘concerned that a proportional voting system would weaken direct constituency links, and make the voting process more complicated for the voter.’ These arguments are pitifully weak. In regard to the first point, many of the possible proportional systems do maintain constituency links and as for the second, I’ve never come across

My vote seemed absolutely unnecessary

MATT BROWN

anything in politics so patronising, apart from when Labour rolled out its pink bus. Yes, Proportional representation would undoubtedly change the landscape of British politics- but maybe that’s exactly what we need. Voter apathy and low turnouts are constantly bemoaned and yet why would people participate in a system that excludes so many of their

We have to continue the fight for democracy now. The struggle is in no way over

opinions? In 2017, the constituency of North East Fife was won with only 2 votes, and although I acknowledge this is an extreme example, it’s representative of a larger problem. 331 of the 650 MPs in the last election won their seat with less than half of the vote in their constituencies. FPTP locks in place a vicious two-party struggle, with which the British public seem to be increasingly ANONYMOUS VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

disenchanted. In this age of increasing political polarisation, we need a system that encourages and supports the rise of smaller parties, like the Greens, and the revival of the once mighty Lib Dems to help them represent the thousands of people who feel left behind, stuck in a void between John McDonell and Jacob Rees-Mogg. We cannot put up with an electoral system that disenfranchises millions and distorts the political debate in our country. People need to know that no matter who they vote for or where they live, their vote counts equally. Two-party politics is over, and has been holding back our country for long enough. 1918 was our last electoral breakthrough; and with any luck, wider public support and another Private Member’s Bill, 2018 might be our next.

We cannot put up with an electoral system that disenfranchises millions and distorts the political debate


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15th February 2018 • The Cambridge Student

Interviews

Speaking with Helen Mort: Do writers have a “duty” to write about social issues? W

Tom Bailey

riting is a sort of reclamation,” the highly-acclaimed poet Helen Mort told me on Friday night. Indeed, her poetry is a testament to the power of art to reclaim spheres of experience for those who have often been marginalised. Taking female mountaineering as its central theme, her second collection, Mort reasserts the voices of history’s oft-overlooked female climbers, whilst simultaneously reflecting on the gender paradigms of our age. No Map Could Show Them is bound together by its emphasis on rediscovering female perspectives. When she sets out to write a new collection, Mort develops an overarching subject, allowing particular interests and passions to infuse a whole series of poems. ‘I’m a big believer in Ted Hughes’s maxim from Poetry in the Making – as a writer you need to find things that are a big part of your life in some way.’ Talking to Mort, I came to realise how important Hughes’s Poetry in the Making has been in formulating Mort’s idea of the ‘collection’. Hughes’s “infallible rule” is that

“you write interestingly only about the things that genuinely interest you.” Hughes goes on to say that the ‘fascinating writer’ knows “what is truly alive in him”. Mort’s second collection grew out of her own passion for mountaineering and rock-climbing, a passion she developed in her teenage years and whilst she was a student at Cambridge University. But mountaineering is a pastime typically associated with men, and it’s this observation that forms the backbone of the collection. In “An Easy Day for a Lady”, Mort reflects on how some climbing routes become irrelevant because, after women scale their heights, men no longer perceive them as difficult challenges. “Poetry and climbing are both about grappling with certain difficulties.” To climb is to search for the foot-holds that will help you reach the mountain’s summit in the most effective way, and I suppose poetry works along similar lines – each word is chosen specifically to enable the poet to best express their meaning. In that sense, much of the collection seems to be a metaphor for writing itself.

“You need to find things that are a big part of your life”

In the age of #MeToo and Time’s Up, Mort’s recent collection is significant. It not only reasserts the importance of women in the history of rock-climbing. It also critiques gender inequality and mocks prevalent female stereotypes. For instance, in “Difficult”, Mort ironically adopts the language of advertisement. Mort explained that she doesn’t think writers necessarily have a “duty” to write about social issues. And yet, as a poet, she is clearly

“Poetry will always be my first love”

determined to address the problems that face our society today. There is an undeniable energy permeating her work, stemming from her commitment to her passions and her evident love for her craft. As she told me: “Poetry will always be my first love, definitely. You get a sense of electricity when you write verse.” Her language is lined with energy and it is easy to see how she holds a reader’s attention so staunchly. BSLAX28

A choice between two evils: Kim or Putin?

Jack Bolton

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acking, sabre-rattling, and intimidation – tools of the trade for both Putin and Kim Jong-Un. Choosing between two evils is far from ideal, but that was nonetheless the point of the Union’s debate concerning these two men and the threats their nations pose. North Korea and Russia remain to a large extent the Cold War bogeymen that have not shrugged off the mantle. The concern surrounding both nations is not entirely unfounded. Russian jets routinely enter into UK airspace, and the nation has demonstrated an alarming belligerence towards neighbours such as Georgia, Turkey, Finland, and of course, the Ukraine. Turning to East Asia, the DPRK never signed a concluding peace treaty with the Republic of Korea in 1953, and so the two states remain in an uneasy, often-flouted truce, with tensions rising dramatically due to the recent developments in North Korea’s testing of ICBMs.

Both aggressors have drawn the Western media’s eye. Both have large militaries at their disposal. Both are run by powerful, unprincipled individuals. Still, there are arguments to be made that the two parties do not represent equal threats. “Better the enemy you know than the one you don’t,” stated the first speaker for the proposition, Raffy Marshall. “Russia remains a relatively stable state, concerned with border conflicts within its sphere for the most part; its military is enough to enforce order, but it is overstretched, conscriptbased, and riddled with corruption; North Korea, however, is sending very real shock waves through the White House and around the world; the fact that it is essentially a desperate ‘basket case’ makes the possibility of a larger war that much more likely. While Russia is largely contained by NATO, no serious measures are in place to deal with a very potent and volatile DPRK besides South Korea and the United States’ “token force.” “The proposition, to my mind,

“Better the enemy you know than the one you don’t”

appear to have very little understanding of North Korea,” replied James Hoare, the historian and diplomat. Certainly, North Korea is “nasty, and it is definitely something we have to be careful of,” but ultimately, we know very little indeed about the North’s capacity to make good its threats. Kim Jong Il once mused that any Western expert who thought they knew anything about his country “was a fool.” The North’s capabilities have thus been “widely exaggerated” by the media: it probably cannot begin to hope to conquer the more populous and wealthier South with outdated equipment and an undernourished army. It also has yet to show the world that it has nuclear devices that it can attach to its ICBMs. Kim’s Korea has yet to have its Cuban Missile Crisis moment; for Russia that time is long past. Barbara Demick, a US journalist, kicked off the second round by noting the fanaticism of the Korean soldier – there is a genuine willingness amongst the ranks to worship the

“We know little about the North’s capacity to make good its threats”

supreme leader and fall in line even when they are starving, lack basic needs and are bereft of any real hope. This, along with the fact that there are 1.1 million North Koreans under arms, makes for a sobering thought. North Korea, she argued, does not reside in a climate of détente, but it dwells in a constant state of unease and insecurity with its superior neighbour, making it all the more likely that “something could go very very wrong.” The former Conservative MP Louise Mensch was next to speak, and rather interestingly she made only a slight reference to Korea, instead choosing to focus upon the “very real and serious threat, which has not been given enough air time” of the Russian capacity for cyber warfare. The scale should definitely shock us: Twitter recently announced that it has identified over 50,000 Russia-linked election bot accounts on its platform. While Putin isn’t killing off his own people like Kim, Louise affirmed, he is nonetheless clearly determined to undermine his rivals at home and abroad with very subtle methods.


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The Cambridge Student • 15th February 2018

Interviews

Jacob Rees-Mogg on values, fees and “figure fiddling” Jack Bolton

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acob Rees-Mogg’s speech to the Cambridge University Conservative Association (in advance of his speech at the Union) was not particularly well-publicised, yet the event was well attended. He made particular light of the fact that he was standing amongst the ‘leaders of the future’ in an environment that championed free discourse. “To work out what ideas you want to try out and take forward, you have to think about your principles. Some people have very successful political careers as essentially elected civil servants, where they are present to be good managers, be efficient and capable. But these people don’t have that guiding light moving them forward, they simply go with the wind. The most successful politicians out there do have this guidance. They work out where their policies are coming from and can communicate these values in their addresses.” Manifestoes in Rees-Mogg’s mind are full of various measures that “… will most likely be overtaken by unforeseen circumstances.” What voters really want to know is what is behind it all. The reality, Rees-Mogg surmised, is that principle goes a lot further than a collection of rogue policies. “You are in politics to remove the obstacles in people’s way, not to direct them to lead the life you think is good for them. This is a very important distinction, and puts a lot more faith

“What voters want to know is what is behind it all”

in our fellow man than the socialist gives him credit for. We believe, for instance, in low taxation because the mass, almost random decisions of individuals will lead to better spending and economic outcomes than the government meddling in it. We also believe as a starting point, that the money is yours, not the state. It is not the state letting you keep some, it is your money entirely, and even that which you give to the state is given in the expectation you will receive it back in the maintenance of our environment.” He also took umbrage with the calls to abolish tuition fees: “First of all, [paying tuition fees] is an expression of your choice. You have decided to come to university, to one of the great universities in the world… any one of you here has the possibility of being a world leader. That’s a really exciting choice you have made for £9,000 a year. You’ve made that choice knowing there will be this financial burden but thinking you will have a chance of getting a financial return. You are taking responsibility for a choice in your life. He further spoke about ‘fostering of communities’, and how this had been eroded under the Blair government. “Most people want to own their own home before they are 50. The government should recognise that and help people, rather than recommend renting or something else. “Opinion polls since the 1940s consistently say people want houses

with gardens, and yet the state is forcing them into tower blocks. “Houses with gardens build communities as they allow informal communication, whereas the flat system makes interaction much more intrusive. Communities and cohesion can grow from this. Isolation in tower blocks is a real indictment of the former government’s failure to listen to the real needs of the individual.” When asked about the treasury’s role in manipulating and twisting Brexit figures, he remarked: “The Treasury figures are wrong. We know that because of the forecasts they made before the vote, when they said that unemployment would rise by 500,000 – 800,000 purely on a vote to leave. But we also know that George Osborne didn’t believe the Treasury figures back in the day, and that’s why he set up the Office for Budget Responsibility. Why was that? Because in his view Brown had fiddled the Treasury forecast in all his budgets. In order for it not to be politicised Osborne created this entity. At the point of Brexit however, Osborne suddenly decided he needed these sorts of dodgy figures to win Project Fear. I have seen the Treasury paper that has been the cause of such discussion recently. I don’t believe in leaking things you’ve seen on a confidential basis, so I can’t go through it, but look at the basis on which the forecasts were

Most people want to own their own home before they are 50

made before Brexit, which were public documents, and then consider whether those approaches have been taken again. If, when the documents are published, you come to the conclusion that it is done on a similar basis, with relation to how we will set tariffs, then perhaps you will think long and hard on the matter.” There is a demonstrable benefit from being outside the customs union. 21 percent of an average family’s income is spent on food, clothing and footwear - and these get the highest tariffs. If these tariffs are removed, we get a real benefit for the people of this country, especially the poorest members of our society. However, the Treasury is for staying in this system to protect inefficient and greedy European manufacturers. That to me is folly, and the figures that come from it are fiddled.” While I would have loved to quiz him further on this matter, I was cut off by a woman who asked about Soros’ plot ‘to undermine Brexit and the will of the people.’ Had this not been on the front page of the Telegraph that day, I would have chalked it up to an Alt Right troll. To my surprise, the question was posed by an innocent-looking pensioner. Soon after, a cab pulled up outside; he was bundled in to the back and sped off to dinner and the Brexit debate at the Union, past a hearty crowd of protestors. cantab12


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15 February 2018 • The Cambridge Student

Comment

The menace of Facebook and how it is moulding us Will Bennett Deputy Editor

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ig, Anti-competitive, Addictive and Destructive to Democracy (BAADD) have become the vogue terms for anyone who likes talking about Facebook. It is yet to be seen whether the fourth allegation will ring true. To date, all that’s certain is that humans are now starting to spend more time engaging with Mark Zuckerburg’s controversial brainchild than any other activity in history. Facebook (probably) doesn’t have any malicious objectives to become a superpower, but our free memberships do render us vulnerable. Facebook did not create fake news nor does Zuck want to create a generation of grey-shirted zombies who can’t spend time away from their smart phones. Facebook has meant that people are more connected to the world around them than ever and has helped to (positively) change the worlds of dating, journalism, event management etc. But it is also unregulated. This means Facebook is probably crafty with the legalities of their finance. It seems easy for big tech platforms to shave off a little tax – Apple was ordered by the European Commission to return €13bn in tax to Ireland and, for several years, Amazon somehow failed to make most of their American customers pay sales tax. Perhaps Facebook shouldn’t be bundled in with other big businesses for their trademark misdemeanours. Facebook’s lack of regulation could lead us down a far scarier avenue. Facebook has the largest pool of personal data in the world and does not use this particularly conscientiously. The

site is able to target its users with particular adverts for things they think an individual might like, based on their activity. This sounds pretty useful for customers but people don’t know, or at least didn’t until recently, that they are being individually targeted with techniques that are designed to appeal to them. It is hard not to be swayed by Facebook’s advertising when it is literally meant just for you. The converse of this is that when you search for something on Google or Facebook, data analytics allow the sites to show their users what they want to see, rather than the best results of their search. At the moment, Facebook is merrily ferrying us into a “post-truth” world. I recently heard a story about someone’s mum finding out that her daughter was pregnant because Google (which operates like Facebook) was offering her baby clothes in its sponsored adverts. Shocking as this would be, it isn’t what Facebook reveals to its customers that is harmful. That third parties can also harvest Facebook’s data to affect how people think is really frightening. At the moment, there is no initiative to force Facebook to care about how a third party might target its customers. Now that this technique of data analytics has been used to affect voting patterns, it has turned into a furore. It is now certain that the Brexit vote and the US election were heavily affected by profiling swing voters and persuading them to vote in a certain way. Incidentally, Cambridge Analytica, referred to by an unnamed ex-employee as a “dark, dystopian data company that gave the world Trump”, were heavily involved in the process. Dr Aleksandr

Facebook has the largest pool of personal data in the world

Kogan who teaches at Cambridge, helped create the algorithm to harvest these Facebook profiles. He has since changed his surname to Spectre. How can this kind of angled marketing be acceptable? Clearly, it limits competition and lets people believe they are making a freer choice than they probably are. Facebook is powerful because of this. It has swallowed competitors Instagram and Whatsapp, and governments are still scrambling to figure out how to regulate it. Other administrations are already using Facebook for voter targeting. Facebook is in a historically unique position in which they no longer compete in a market, but has increasingly become the market, and Facebook doesn’t mind what people do within its market. People are no longer about to move elsewhere for any of the services available on Facebook. So we could all leave Facebook. Or perhaps the only way to prevent Facebook from limiting our democracy is to bear in mind that it is affecting how we think. I suspect that data analytics will never contribute to a fair democratic playing field. Rather, it would become a financial competition over who can pay for the better data technology. That Cambridge Analytica helped the Leave campaign was a financial arrangement – it is unclear if the company had political motivation. Hopefully, Facebook never finds cause for political motivation either.

A response to Roger Stone at the Cambridge Union Olivia Gillman

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’m the only man you’ll meet with a dick on the back and a dick on the front” Roger Stone tells a bemused Cambridge Union audience. He refers to the man he cites as his first political teacher: Richard Nixon - and the corresponding tattoo on his back. Stone wears a sharp suit, cutting the shape of a powerful political figure highly regarded by his establishment. Stone’s nickname ‘ratfucker’ marks him as one of the inventors of the modern political attack ad. Stone is often described as having had a hand in just about every criminal deed carried out by the forces of the American conservative movement in the past sixty years: from Watergate to the election of Donald Trump. Yet Stone’s personal presentation is elegant. In its best moments his speech at the union is erudite and factual. Perhaps unsurprisingly, for a political strategist charged with being single-handedly responsible for Trump’s rise to power, he is educated, literary, and witty. Every so often his traditional flourishes of educated skill and questionable moral

value are punctuated by an incongruously vacuous Trumpism such as ‘loser’. It is clear when he drops into scripts from the Republican Party because the clarity, logic and naturalism with which he otherwise communicates fly out the chamber windows. This new novelty is a Trumpian language that is impulsive, obfuscating, and apparently the most exciting political weapon he’s happened upon since Nixon. Whether or not Trump uses his mode of communication unwittingly, it is with total understanding of its limits and potentials that Stone deploys his ammunition. Watching Roger Stone speak, I was surrounded by a laughing audience – but one which questioned themselves when they did. There was a feeling that there was a much bigger cultural force operating through Stone: one that as Brits we cannot fully be exposed to or understand. Some questions at the event were interrogatory, but generally offered a policy point in line with the Democrats. Therefore, Stone had rebuttals ready and was let off by a passive politeness. Our words never did more than give vague

I felt surrounded by a disturbed audience

traces of the ideologies he has been involved in conquering. If I had been selected, I would have asked this: “If Trump’s meaningless, anti-fact dialogue is allowed to rule, then in twenty years we might be looking at an America where a logical thinker such as yourself wouldn’t have a useful place in government. How do you feel about that?” It is possible that there is some greater plan in place. Such a plan might be one that uses the shock impact of a disorganized Trump presidency to give far right ideologies an organized platform at the centre of the Western world. No long-term plan. However, it is unthinkable that speakers such as Roger Stone should be left unchallenged. Especially in circumstances where those who are capable of challenging them have all the tools in place – but politeness or anxiety hampers the critical expression of the speaker. It should be our role, as young people in a privileged position, to protect democracy from erosion by speaking up with an informed confidence.

Protest will never be Lewis Thomas Comment Editor

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ast week, we saw the “Kiss in for Rees-Mogg” in response to Jacob Rees-Mogg coming to speak at the Union. Earlier in the academic year, we saw rallies for decolonising faculties and in support of the #TimesUp movement. These protests are good, and help put issues in the public eye. But in terms of impact, they can’t compare to sustained legislative engagement and campaigning on a political and judicial level. Getting in the headlines by protesting a situation is nice – changing the situation through practical policy is better. Broadly speaking, there are two purposes to any campaigning movement- to raise awareness, and to enact change. The protests outside the Union against ReesMogg and outside the UL for the #TimesUp movement fulfil the first purpose – anyone walking past them will have been made aware of what was being protested and (presumably) why. But they failed in the second: protests do not change laws, nor do they necessarily change the minds of the opponents to a policy. A protest without engagement risks existing in a vacuum; participants feel that something is being said, and that action is being taken. But, outside the protest, little change occurs. Legislative engagement, on the other hand, can enact real change. To demonstrate this, we can look at the Civil Rights movement in the US. The March on Washington made excellent headlines, and ensured that the campaign for Civil Rights remained in the public eye. However, it did not lead to change by itself – change came from legislation pushed by Congress and the Presidency. To pass Civil Rights, President Johnson did not go on protests, or hold placards in the street; instead, he compromised when necessary, did the legislative legwork (or had his allies in the House and Senate do it for him), and worked as part of a coalition to ensure that Civil Rights were achieved in the face of organised resistance from the Southern Caucus in Congress. History is seldom made by the headline


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The Cambridge Student • 15 February 2018

Comment

Cecil Stoughton, WHPO Cecil Stoughton, WHPO

Column: Gays of our lives -

The case of the ancient Japanese samurai Isabella Leandersson

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comparable to policy grab – it certainly wasn’t in the case of Civil Rights. It was made by careful dealing, legislative pressure, and shepherding fragile laws and ideas through the political system. The March on Washington, or protestors standing outside statehouses, did not get the Civil Rights Act passed - Hubert Humphrey’s manoeuvring to get enough Senate votes to end Robert Byrd’s filibuster did. Protests look good, and eases the consciences of their participants. But they cannot stand alone. We live in a community defined by laws, and institutions of government – to enact change, we must engage with those institutions and seek to use them to attain our goals. Equal Marriage was not achieved through protests – it was passed through a parliamentary vote in the UK, and a Supreme Court decision in the US. Looking at the current political climate, those ideas of nationalism, protectionism, and xenophobia that have come to define the modern Republican Party and the Trump Presidency had a substantive effect not when their proponents started protesting, but when they worked out how to pressure legislators and put their own idealogues into legislatures (and, finally, the White House). A movement may be virtuous. It may have widespread support. But it cannot achieve anything substantive without engaging with governmental institutions. If you want to keep the Rees-Moggs of this world from enacting policy, don’t just hold protests and risk being dismissed or falling into a virtuous echo chamber. Campaign for candidates you agree with; hold your representatives to account; participate in the political process in order to make the world you want. Because if you don’t, the people you disagree with will. Don’t remain in the cell of impractical protest, salving your conscience while shouting into a void. Bismarck said that politics is the art of the possible – it is also the art of compromise, wheedling, and legwork. You sometimes have to shake hands with the devil in order to build a world of the angels. Words are a start. But deeds? Deeds are how you change things.

he aim of this column is mainly to bring attention to queer history, in terms of it actually existing and queerness not being a 20th century invention/conspiracy/alien life form derived from a meteorite. This week, I’ve looked at homosexuality in Japanese culture and history in the period from 1500 to 1900. It was quite difficult to find information on the topic (for some reason gay narratives just aren’t the first result you get when you search for articles on Japan in that time period) so I do not doubt that the information I have is limited, biased and of dubious credibility at best. Nevertheless, let’s look at what I found. I’m going to start with the samurai, the hereditary warrior class of Japan. What’s interesting is that any child of a male samurai belonged to the samurai class, meaning that although most samurai were male, females samurai existed. Homosexual relations among the samurai were well known and acknowledged. The bourgeoise of Japan associated a particular kind of homosexuality, wakashudo, with

the samurai class. Since the shogunate upheld samurai as morally upstanding, non-samurai males were encouraged to follow in their footsteps, down to their homosexual behaviour. The fact that males vastly outnumbered females in cities like Edo probably helped speed things on. Other representations of male homosexuality in Japanese culture were largely associated with Kabuki. Kabuki is a highly stylised form of theatre that was linked with prostitution and general debauchery back in the 1600’s. So much so that in 1629, females were banned from the stage. This did little to curb its association with prostitution, however, as the young men then playing the female parts, the onnagata, kept up that end of the deal. Japanese homosexual culture from this time is thus today largely known to us through the means and methods of its capitalist interactions. The ‘pleasure houses’ of Japan were well known and well documented, providing historians today with plenty of material. Some literature about lovers of the time helps to inform us about what their actual relationships were like, beyond the purely commercial aspect. An 1830s piece

Males were encouraged to follow in their footsteps

describes how a samurai weeps at being separated from his lover when he has to leave Edo. He says that although he must return to his wife he “will never trade her love for yours.” This eludes to a deeper emotion and devotion than what we can learn from just a record of expenses. Female sexuality, as usual, remains elusive in records from this time. It seems the people who were writing then just weren’t that interested in lesbian activity (who isn’t!) and as a result little material remains for us to learn from. We can safely estimate, however, from indirect mentions and hints, that female homosexuality was taking place as well, both in the pleasure houses and elsewhere. The final note I want to leave on, is that homosexual behaviour wasn’t considered objectionable or immoral in Japan even into the 20th century. It wasn’t until contemporary German sexological theory was widespread in Japan that homosexual behaviour started to be considered as a national embarrassment. It can therefore be said that whilst homosexual culture has existed in Japan for centuries, homophobic culture was a western invention.

The Union’s debate showed that there is no nuance in Brexit Michael Reiners

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hursday night’s Union debate on the process of Brexit was a welcome deviation from the usual ‘virtues of in, or out’ theme. Instead, Jacob ReesMogg tussled with Andrew Adonis, Karan Bilimoria and former education secretary Nicky Morgan on the the motion that ‘no deal’ is preferable to a ‘bad deal’. Despite this, it seems that few in the room noticed the nuance, with debate swiftly devolving into the usual partisan model of public Brexit discussion. What I think this served to illustrate is that debate has evolved minimally since June 23rd 2016. Rees-Mogg’s politeness was visible even in his 5-minute speech: at any critical interjection from audience members, the floor was handed over in good spirits. On the other hand, the opposition appeared too interested in their case to yield time to students. Quite possibly, this is due to their perception that they were preaching to the choir. Lord Adonis’ speech opened with this attitude, asking the audience for a raise-of-hands on whether they would vote to remain in a second referendum. It was an unanimous yes, suggesting that debtaing the notion might be fruitless. It also further alienated the audience from the actual topic at hand: the nature of the deal upon exiting the EU. This is perhaps an indication that the left has failed to learn

how to ingratiate itself with anyone other than itself, a skill it desperately needed to re-learn after 2016. While perfectly acceptable to suggest that those enthusiastic about Britain’s place outside the EU are, as one audience member put it, “romanticising a distant past before the EU”, it is important to be aware of the past before acusing people of romanticising it. The youth’s tendency towards romanticising the ‘recent past before we left the EU’ often goes ignored as a result. Most of those at Thursday’s debate had never lived without the EU, making membership a comfortable status quo to uphold. It was unsurprising to see the usual conflations from audience members and speakers alike: one being that the Erasmus scheme is soon to be in dire jeopardy, despite being established in 1987 when the European Union as we know it only came into existence under the Maastricht treaty. The usual allusions to the Daily Mail’s “enemies of the people” headline and the Home Office’s report of a 41% increase in hate crimes in 2016 were also made. That said, it was certainly eye opening to see two Life Peers of the house of Lords celebrate the virtues of another unelected body: the European Commission. One student protester argued that “Jacob Rees-Mogg’s intolerance, demonstrated

Debate has evolved little but opinion has

both in his despicable voting record and his public statements, is unacceptable and should not be invited into our university.” I heard no “despicable” statements from Mr Rees-Mogg on Thursday evening. Debate has evolved very little since June 2016, but opinion has. Thursday’s result was close, with 40% in favour of ReesMogg’s motion and 46% in opposition. Despite the over-representation of support for the EU, at such events, we might dare to assume that this is indicative of a wider trend towards embracing our exit.

CHRIS MCANDREW


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15 February 2018 • The Cambridge Student

Columns

Column: Gaming is procrastination at its finest Hannah Dyball Columns Editor

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magine the scene…it’s five in the afternoon. After a long day’s toil on your latest bastardisation of Cambridge scholarship, you have finally managed to sit yourself down for a truly productive evening of daring heists, death-defying raids and valiant acts of heroism. Oh, what a time to be alive and not at all interested in going outdoors! Only you can’t do any of those things, can you? No. You have to potter about in side quest land for the odd 40 hours or so, don’t you? Yes… Because that (yes, that. Over there. Yes, the lady wittering on about misplaced kitchenware) looks slightly more interesting than what you’re currently supposed to be doing. Because you have to get all of the achievements/ trophies for you to have truly played the game. Because you haven’t levelled up sufficiently to make the rest of the story about as difficult as convincing your supervisor that you are not in fact a student, but a shaved baboon with a MacBook. You can’t help yourself…you just have to do it. There are plenty of ways in which one might whittle away one’s precious life. The first of which is pointless but frankly quite exciting side quests, the undisputed king of which has to be The Witcher 3. Aside from the obviously enthralling case of the misplaced pan (oh, if only

that handle could talk…what tales it would regale us with…) The Witcher has many a masterful storyline for your fickle mind to sample. Investigate one little marker and you could find yourself being deviated from your original course for hours. Yes, yes, I know Ciri needs locating, but this notat-all-suspicious talking tree needs my help…sigh…The Witcher: one; Hannah’s chances of ever getting a decent night’s sleep: nil. Unfortunately, side quests can often

lead to mini games (my own personal waking nightmare). Mini games invade the game that we bought and are currently enjoying and invite us to forget all of the skills that we have just spent the last 20 hours learning and revel in the opportunity to utterly humiliate ourselves once again. And then they disappear! They flutter off into the ether never to be seen again…only in shame-induced night-terrors. Perhaps I’m a bitter, jaded old crone, but I’ve known the

wrath of the mini game all too well. I’ve felt the fury, the pain, the anguish. Final Fantasy XV was going so well until the fishing started… I sat there poised for hours…hours I tell you! Did I catch a single fish to feed that belligerent feline? No… He just sat there…licking his bloody paws like a Shakespearean villain. In the gentle darkness of a cold Cambridge night, when the wind howls over the Hill, I can still hear him…mewing… Have you ever been in that situation Paweł Kadysz

in a game where you think ‘what if I tormented the NPCs’? Some games won’t stand for it; Assassin’s Creed desynchronises you for murdering innocents…because they’re all about fun… Most will allow you to get creative with your methods. I spent a truly alarming amount of time in Watchdogs moving parked cars to the other side of the street and imagining the confusion of the owner when they came to collect it. I even began to search for similar cars, imagining that I was slowly driving one particular NPC to the brink of madness. Hours well spent, if you ask me. Finally, we have the loot. Never content with the mere 300 items they’re currently packing in their obscenely heavy knapsack, some gamers will spend 90% of their time in a game wandering the landscape or grinding through raids just on the off-chance that they might just so happen stumble across an item that is marginally better than the one they just so happened to stumble across 20 minutes ago. Destiny 2 has had me wrapped in its looty embrace for some time…I honestly don’t remember how many times I have started playing and then realised that it’s 5am and oh my God I have a supervision in the morning. Disgraceful. When will I stop? Never.

Column: What is ‘the Cambridge experience’? Rebecca Heath

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hat do you think of when you see the term, “the Cambridge experience”? Extravagant May Balls with champagne fountains and firework displays? Lavish formals in ancient, wood-panelled halls? Famous speakers at the Cambridge Union? For many, these are just some of a long list of things that are intrinsically Cambridge - the type of thing that a family friend advises you to “do while you can”. But The Cambridge Student has uncovered that a significant proportion of students struggle to afford these expensive events, leaving “the Cambridge experience” the preserve of the rich. In its Cambridge Undergraduate Poverty Survey, TCS found that over half of respondents did not find May Balls “comfortably affordable”. This is unsurprising given that most tickets start at over £100 a head. On top of

this, attendees often have to buy new dresses, tuxedos, shoes and jewellery. The high cost excludes poorer students who cannot afford to attend without also working at the event. But, working at a May Ball is a poor substitute for the complete experience. Working for the first half of the event means that poorer students miss out on starting acts, enjoying the Ball with their relatively sober friends and food before it sells out. As one respondent pointed out, it creates a gulf between the “haves” and the “have nots”, leaving those forced to work feeling inferior. Even if you can just about afford May Ball tickets, it is often impossible to get all of your friends to the same place. With random ticket allocation commonplace, getting everyone a ticket can often mean bartering on the May Ball marketplace. For those with enough money to splash out on dozens of tickets or pay more than the

official price, this can be relatively easy. For those on low incomes, getting all friends together is a remote possibility. However, May Balls are not the only part of “the Cambridge experience” that poorer students miss out on. The high cost of formals and high society membership costs also create barriers to other classic Cambridge experiences. In its Cambridge Undergraduate Poverty Survey, TCS found that nearly a third of students did not find formals “comfortably affordable”. Admiteedly, there were a high number of King’s responses, where coveted formal tickets are currently over £20 a head. But, the cost of formals can still be a barrier at Cambridge colleges with cheaper prices. The social pressure to wear new outfits, buy expensive drinks and go on nights out, adds significantly to formal costs. Societies may also put off poor

students with high membership costs. TCS found that over a quarter of respondents could not “comfortably afford” student societies, with the Cambridge Union being particularly singled out. At present, a non-discounted lifetime Union membership costs £199. Although those on a Cambridge bursary can receive cheaper membership, this does not tackle affordability for non-eligible students, for example, those with parents from the “squeezed middle”. Poorer students may have to make do with just watching their idols on YouTube. Entry to May Balls, formals and societies are all much easier for students with expansive bank accounts, supported by rich parents. While it is true that none of these experiences are necessities, it is a shame that students’ Cambridge experience is still very much determined by income.

CMGLEE


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The Cambridge Student • 15 February 2018

Sport KITYA MARK

Sunday Life: FIFA, Korea and Berry sacks Derry

Finn Ranson Sports Editor

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eyond the bubble of Bumps fever, town vs. gown boxing and beating Oxford at rackets, it’s been another madcap week in the world of sport. The Beautiful Game Just weeks after Fifa President Gianni Infantino pledged to “promote human rights as a top priority”, football’s governing body approved Chechnya as Egypt’s World Cup base. Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov on the controversy over his rights record: “It’s all an invention by foreign agents who are paid a few kopecks. These so-called human rights activists make up all sorts of nonsense for money.”

KITYA MARK

In other Russia News As over 150 Russian athletes compete independently in Pyeongchang, whistleblower and mastermind behind the Sochi doping scheme Grigory Rodchenkov conducted his first TV interview since fleeing to the United States. “There is information that my life [is] in jeopardy,” he said. “The Kremlin wants me to stop talking.”

sang “Unify the motherland!” Most self-righteous Shock Australian Open quarterfinalist Tennys Sangren responding to criticism over his Twitter history: “You seek to put people in these little boxes so that you can order the world in your already assumed preconceived ideas. You would rather perpetuate propaganda machines instead of researching information from a host of angles and perspectives while being willing to learn, change and grow… In so doing, you may actually find you’re hastening the hell you wish to avoid, the hell we all wish to avoid.” Trump supporter Sandgren had sagely backed the “Pizzagate”, false conspiracy theory that Clinton was connected to a pizzeria sex ring. “It’s sickening and the collective evidence is too much to ignore,” he wrote.

Most unconvincing condemnation Joey Barton on Dele Alli’s involvement in a sex tape that has gone viral after Liverpool fans hacked his iCloud account: “He’s a young lad, I mean it’s not right Winning at losing that it’s got out, obviously that’s Manchester United vice-chairman someone’s daughter. It’s not right, Ed Woodward giving the Old but I don’t think it’s wrong.” Trafford faithful something to chant about: “The Alexis Sánchez And closer to home signing generated 75% more social Three minutes after the final whistle media interactions than Neymar’s in a 0-0 draw with Lincoln City on world record transfer to Par Saint Friday, Cambridge United Tweeted Germain.” that Shaun Derry would be leaving the club by mutual consent. The Thawing Korean Tensions U’s sat 14th in the table, Derry “I think we’re stronger together having guided them to 9th and 11th than we’re divided,” said North place finishes. “I’m not going to Korean player Jong Su Hyon on the pretend that I’m certain,” said new North-South ice hockey alliance. owner Paul Berry. “But to my best “As one unified team, I hope we can knowledge we’ve tried to find a fine continue to train together. We will line between forcing things early excel together as one unified team.” and waiting too late.” Derry had They have lost both of their opening been integral to the collaboration, matches 8-0 to Switzerland and Berry went on to claim, “as we look Sweden. Nonetheless, in their most ahead to the beginning of next recent defeat, fans chanted “We are season.” United currently have 15 one” and North Korean cheerleaders games left. MT HIETALA


15 February 2018 • The Cambridge Student

Sport

Sunday Life: FIFA, Korea and Berry sacks Derry

www.tcs.cam.ac.uk/sport

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More than just a game: A question of morality when watching the Russia World Cup?

WIKIMEDIA KREMLIN.RU

Marcus McCabe

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yebrows were certainly raised when, in December 2010, FIFA selected Russia to host the 2018 World Cup. Those eyebrows inched even higher when Qatar were awarded the 2022 competition and were practically subsumed by hairlines around the country when fourteen members of FIFA were indicted by the FBI under allegations of corruption and bribery in 2015. Despite this media attention, the actual competitions around which controversy swirled felt like the distant future, out of sight and out of mind. Now, however, with benchwarmers having frantically manufactured Januarytransfer-window moves for better playing time and a ticket on the plane to Russial, it has become impossible to ignore the fact that the tournament is only four months away. When billions of fans tune in to matches next June, the troubling ethical issues with Russian sport – and politics - will become uncomfortably tangible, raising unavoidable questions about whether we should be tuning in at all. The competition will ask the same old questions about separating entertainment and entertainer and

whether such an international body should be biased about the countries it supports. A 2013 survey reported that nearly three-quarters of Russian citizens believe homosexuality to be socially unacceptable and even more draconian, it has been reported that over a hundred gay men are being held in a concentration camp in the Russian republic of Chechnya. These moral issues are impossible to isolate from the football and LGBT+ couples making the trip to Russia will be warned not to hold hands or display public affection. Are we rendered complicit by adding to viewing figures, supporting a competition, and by extension a country, displaying such deep-seated homophobia? Racist chanting is commonplace in the Russian Premier League. Nazi slogans and the abuse of black players threatens to mar a competition that should be celebrating multiculturalism – the transcendent force of football between nations. Only recently, Spartak Moscow U-19 player Lenid Mironov was charged with the racial abuse of Liverpool starlet Rhian Brewster. It is easy to point the finger at FIFA for endorsing the Russian Federation, and arguably condoning xenophobia, but

MP Igor Lebedev urged thugs in Marseille to “Keep it up”

such flagrant disregard for equality and human rights surely begs the question of whether we should go one step further and boycott such a forum for bigotry as viewers. It would be the first time that a competition has been boycotted on ethical and not not political grounds. Even more conflicted will be those thinking of travelling to Russia to see the matches live. Having witnessed the violence that a battalion of only a few hundred Russian ultras could inflict on thousands of (not unaccountable) English fans in France at Euro 2016, many will be questioning their plans, not only for moral, but for safety concerns. The prevailing memory for many casual supporters will surely be the violence and not the sport. It seems that every domestic club in Russia is tied to a fight club of hooligans who not only watch battles on the pitch but fight each other off it. Even MP Igor Lebedev urged thugs in Marseille to “Keep it up” because he doesn’t “see anything terrible in fighting fans”, regarding it instead as a nationalist defense of honour. Drunk foreign fans and Russian militant diehards make for a particularly dangerous cocktail. Perhaps most importantly to the integrity on the pitch, the wielldocumented state-sponsorship of doping throughout Russian sport has

become impossible to ignore. Former head of the Moscow antidoping agency, Grigory Rodchenkov, has recently blown the whistle on plans to remove urine samples of Russian players at the World Cup so that they could take performance enhancing drugs just as they did at Sochi. In which case, we wouldn’t be watching an equal contest for crown of greatest footballing nation but a biased mockery, a game of FIFA with the sliders turned up. A quick google of Russian doping in the Olympics reveals the endless paths officials schemes have gone down to secure the slightest of advantages. Whether it is held in Russia or on the moon, the World Cup is the supreme competition of the most popular sport in the world. Choosing to miss it seems incomprehensible. Surely most countries would not turn down the chance to play on the biggest stage. Yet if we want the future of the World Cup to be fair and moral, perhaps this year it will be necessary to leave our televisions switched off. We can send along our best squad but by not indulging ourselves in viewing, we are siphoning off the competition’s income as far as we can as individuals.

The Cambridge Student  

Issue 3 of Lent term

The Cambridge Student  

Issue 3 of Lent term

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