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TheGown. The Independent Student Newspaper at Queen’s University Belfast, Established 1955





Monday 17th February 2014


Clinton to Visit Queen’s Kylie Noble News Editor @Kylie_Noble94

Former US President Bill Clinton will make a visit to Queen’s University on March 5th to open the University’s newly-established Leadership Institute at Riddell Hall (now rebranded as the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute). It is believed that President Clinton will deliver the inaugural “William J. Clinton” lecture to those in attendance. President Clinton remarked, “I am honoured to be associated with this Institute. It will prepare future business leaders for a time that requires economic innovation, and in the process, will demonstrate the determination of Queen's in Northern Ireland to seize the opportunities that peace has made possible”. Acting President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s, Professor James McElnay, said, “Queen’s is honoured to once again welcome President Clinton to the University. He has a long and proud association with both Queen’s and Northern Ireland and he will have the opportunity to see at first

hand our Leadership Institute to which he has given his name. The aim of the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s is directly aligned to the goals of the Clinton Foundation. It provides a focus at the heart of the local business community, supporting economic growth and the ongoing development of the knowledge economy”. The Clinton Foundation was founded in 2001, following the former Senator’s completion of his two terms as President of the United States. March’s event is being organised by the Queen’s University Foundation. It is currently unclear who will be eligible to attend the lecture, although Queen’s students have been left hoping that they will have a chance to witness this historic event - much like their University College Dublin counterparts, who last autumn acted as the audience to President Clinton’s receipt of the Ulysses Medal for his “outstanding global contribution”. At this event, President Clinton not only addressed the student body, but also spent time answering questions from the floor.

Bill Clinton upon receiving his honorary degree from Queen’s in 2001. Photo courtesy of Queen’s University’s Communications Department. The politician’s last visit to Northern Ireland was in 2010, when he discussed ideas for building the region’s economic prosperity during a visit to Derry/ Londonderry.

Both President Clinton and his wife Hilary have been heavily involved with the Northern Irish Peace Process, which he has described as one of the “great honours” of his

life. The recently announced visit follows that of current US President Barack Obama to the city in June 2013.

Union Threatens Summer Marking Boycott the UCU considers acceptable. The union argues that university staff have suffered a “real terms pay cut of 13%” over the past four years”, and have rejected the UCEA’s offer of a 1% pay rise to staff.

Queen’s University’s Whitla Hall, the venue where many students sit their exams. Photo by Darragh Hobbs. The Gown Staff Members @thegownqub

The University and College Union (UCU) have given the “green light” to a marking boycott, which could affect student graduations, as part

of a campaign of ongoing industrial action over the pay rates of university staff. The union has threatened what it calls the “ultimate sanction” – due to begin from April 28th – if its negotiations with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) do not yield a pay deal which

The UCU’s latest decision follows months of strike action, which has seen disruption to many classes across the campus as staff members affiliated with the union join picket lines. If a marking boycott is imposed, the action could result in some lecturers refusing to mark both exam scripts and coursework, and could adversely affect final year students’ chances of graduating. Following news of the UCU’s ultimatum, a spokesperson for the UCEA claimed, “Higher Education institutions will certainly be disappointed that the UCU is still threatening a marking boycott, as this is action that is once again aimed directly

at students’ education. Both UCU and Higher Education institutions are well aware that strike support has dwindled still further in recent weeks, with the overwhelming majority of staff not taking part and having no wish to disrupt students’ education”. The spokesperson continued, “Clearly HE institutions will be affirming their policies for withholding full pay for any staff who follow such a damaging course of industrial action aimed at their students' education”. In a press release issued by the union earlier today, UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt stated, "A marking boycott is the ultimate sanction, but an avoidable one if the employers would negotiate with us over pay. No member I have spoken to wishes to see this dispute escalate, but in the continued absence of meaningful negotiations from the employers, we are left with

no alternative. I fail to see how any university can claim to have students' best interests at heart if it is not pushing for talks with the union to resolve this dispute. Even now the timetable we have set provides a generous window of opportunity for the employers to address our just demands, which we, and students, hope they take. The strong support for our action so far demonstrates how angry staff are at the hypocrisy over pay in our universities. The employers cannot plead poverty when it comes to staff pay and then award enormous rises to a handful at the top”. It is as yet unclear whether UCU’s threats of a marking boycott will come to fruition. For The Gown’s report on the latest bout of strike action to result from the UCU’s campaign on the rate of university staff’s pay, turn to page four.

The Gown

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02 The Gown Editorial The Gown is the independent student newspaper at Queen’s University Belfast, established 1955. The Gown Team 2013/ 2014 Editor Tara McEvoy General Manager Megan Liddy News Editors Kylie Noble Fiachra O’ Maolcraoibhe Assistant - James Douglas Arts Editor Peter McGoran Assistant - Conor Kerr Correspondents Film- Patrick McAnea Music - Hayley Gault Theatre - Colm Doran TV - Adam McAllister Features Editor Matthew Law Assistant - Níamh Marley Lifestyle Editor Sonia Benhassine Health Correspondent Michael Grant

Tara McEvoy Editor @tara_mcevoy

February marks the beginning of the academic year’s second semester (for many of us our last spent in third level education) – and students’ gradual re-submersion into university life, following the annual waking nightmare of the winter assessment period. With snow still circling South Belfast, it mightn’t yet be safe to say that spring has sprung – but it is a certainty that the year’s final semester has kicked off with a bang. Industrial action continues as the rift between university manage-

Photography Editor Darragh Hobbs Assistant - Desmond Eastwood Business Manager Orry Robinson Web Manager Anna Growcott Social Media Manager David Stewart Design Editor Matthew Morete Contributors Hannah Greenfield Tiarnán Ó’Muilleoir Andrew Doherty Anna Cafolla Derek Crosby Amy Slack James Smith Vanessa Taafe Charles Cook Joe GIlson Christopher McLaughlin Paul Jeffcutt Gáibhin McGranaghan Jirhe Okugbeni

@TheGownQUB /TheGownQUB The Gown Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union University Road Belfast BT71NF 028 9097 1057

Rarely before has such an opportunity seemed so vital, given the UKwide context of a student backlash against privatisation, cuts to further and higher education, and skyrocketing tuition fees – a backdrop against which to well and truly reintroduce the politics to student politics. So whether you’re harbouring aspirations of participating in the elec-

Your Union: get involved! Photo by Desmond Eastwood. tions, or just want to learn more before voting, get involved: you won’t regret it. Visit an information session, attend the candidates’ de-

bate – and most importantly, make sure you pick up next month’s special election issue of The Gown.

The Hood The Hood The Hood is The Gown’s anonymous whistleblower cum satirist. Founded in 1976 by a generous donation from the Sir Humphrey Hood Foundation, the Hood has consistently broken news of wrongdoing in the elected officials of the Students’ Union, as well as the wider student movement and the university itself. Loved by people who care too much about SU politics and despised by officers who should care more, the Hood delivers the news and the schmooze on those who waste your union dues. @upthehood

Sports Editor Michael Doran Assistant - Conor Coyle Opinion Editor Brian Martin

ment and trade unions deepens, candidates are elected for national conference delegations and this week, the Students’ Union launches its newly-rebranded campaign encouraging students to run for sabbatical office.

The electoral season lumbers toward us like a Golem wrought of poorly thought out electoral promises and paper. Soon, every available surface will be festooned with leering faces and every corner filled with earnest students soliciting your vote. Participation at the 'Candidate Information' sessions seems to have been lukewarm: when this is added to the lack of candidates for NUS-USI and USI conferences, it is perhaps indicative that the sails of the rumour mill will be moving


slowly over the electoral period. Participation in the SU elections tends to be very low indeed, and the democratic mandate of some of our sabbs wouldn't stand up to any sort of scrutiny. Fortunately, the boffins in the SU have decided that this is the fault of poor marketing, rather than any inherent mistrust or apathy towards the elections and their archaic rules, and have decided to rename and rebrand the SU elections, doubtlessly with some desperate slogan like "Run!"

or "We are Exceptional" that will make the elections appealing in the same way that a coat of whitewash makes a burning house a more desirable residence. In other news, SU Lets has died after a long battle with market forces. It is survived by its brother, the SU Mag and its sister, SUTV, both of whom are currently comatose due to neglect. The Lets had been tanking because landlords were unwilling to sign

with an agency that held them to some sort of standard, and instead opted to continue letting draughty, damp, mould-ridden tenements to culchies and others who don't know better. Sunrise, sunset: soon that space will be filled by some other naive commercial interest. For my money, I'd move the sabbs in there - it'd be good to see what they're up to. We might even be able to charge people to jab them with a long stick.

Want to have your say on the issues covered in The Gown or those matters affecting students more broadly? Get in touch with us at!

Letters reflect the personal beliefs of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gown’s editorial team. RE: ‘The Potential Effects of Scottish Independence’ Dear Reader, As an occasional reader of The Gown, I am accustomed to insightful and generally balanced pieces exploring issues in direct relation to Queen's as well as to wider current affairs, however 'The Potential Effects of Scottish Independence' (The Gown December 16th) fills me with disappointment. I am well aware that the piece was part of the Opinion section and thus may be expected to contain partisan viewpoints, as it should rightly express the author's point of view. In this case however, the author has totally neglected to bring any balance to his work by failing to acknowledge in any way the nationalist perspective either in Scotland or here in Northern Ireland. The author refers to Scottish Independence, “ignit[ing] fears about the possibility of a renewed interest in a United Ireland”. Of course fears may be ignited within

the unionist community here in Northern Ireland under the circumstances outlined. But as the report is on the effects of a 'Yes' vote in Scotland upon citizens in this country, it should also include the large swathes of the population who subscribe to a nationalist or republican position, as regards the constitutional question. For many Irish nationalists, Scottish Independence might - far from igniting fear - rekindle hope for the ideal of a united Ireland. As indicated, Norway is a smaller European country which Scotland could indeed seek to emulate, however adding to similarities in geography I would also draw a comparison between each country’s resources and concern for social welfare. An independent Scotland might actually reflect the strong social democratic tendencies of its population, which is as unrepresented by the Tory/Lib Dem

The First and Deputy First Minister of Scotland. Photo from Wikimedia Commons. coalition in London as we are, and perhaps alleviate the suffering in areas like Calton in Glasgow, where male life expectancy stands at 53.9 years. A resurgent Scottish economy is distinctly feasible if the Scottish National Party can successfully manage change and expectation during a transition phase to full independence. At the same time change - that great enemy of conservatives everywhere - should offer no worry to Northern Irish businesses, as Scotland’s proposed continuation of the sterling and re-entry to the EU means that in

reality few barriers to trade would exist. For me, the author is simply espousing the fear tactics used by the British government's 'No' campaign – tactics evident in countries worldwide where national liberties have been repressed in favour of narrow economic or political interests (ie: in Spain, where self-autonomy is denied to the Catalans). Whatever happened to the freedom of small nations? Donal Cummings

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TIARNÁN Ó’MUILLEOIR | Industrial Dispute Deepens ANDREW DOHERTY | Changes Proposed to Academic Year ANNA CAFOLLA | Queen’s Team Struggle on University Challenge DEREK CROSBY | PTQ Magazine Returns DESMOND EASTWOOD | Queen’s Lecturers Miss Out on BAFTA AMY SLACK | Dr Sinead Morrissey Awarded T.S. Eliot Prize JAMES SMITH | Queen’s VC Helps Launch ECC Bill of Rights MEGAN LIDDY | Medicine Students Mistakenly Failed


MEGAN LIDDY | Former QUB Student Deported from Israel

Queen’s Property Development Plans Spark Protests Plans to develop student accommodation have angered some residents of South Belfast. Kylie Noble News Editor @Kylie_Noble94

Approximately 30 residents living in the vicinity of Queen’s University’s main student accommodation complex, Elms Village halls of residence, have begun a protest against the University’s plans to expand accommodation in the nearby area. It has been reported that Queen’s intend to knock down a derelict mansion on Lennoxvale, to allow space to build flats for 150 international students. Local resident Ainda Andress told the

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BBC that if the development went ahead, the character of the street would be ruined forever. "There will be no chance of getting it back to what it was and Lennoxvale is totally unique, a quiet backwater in a busy area”, she said, adding, "It will never be the same again if Queen's go ahead, or anyone else with a development in this park”. Sarah Wright, Welfare Officer of the National Union of Students – Union of Students Ireland (NUS-USI), felt that there were strong positives to the planned development in the Len-

noxvale area: “The reality is students need more housing to meet demand and instead of leaving that gap up to landlords, Queen’s is making a progressive decision to take responsibility for meeting this demand”. Ms Wright continued, “Queen’smanaged accommodation is safer for students. This is something NUS-USI called for in our submission to the council on purpose built accommodation. What Queen’s need to ensure is that the accommodation is affordable for students so they aren't forced into the private rented sector”. Elms Village. Photo from Flickr.

13/02/2014 10:35:16

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News Industrial Dispute Deepens on Campus


The first weeks of the second semester have witnessed a new bout of industrial action undertaken by university staff, as negotiations between trade unions and the University and College Employers Association grind to a halt. Tiarnán Ó’Muilleoir Contributor Industrial action at Queen’s has escalated over the New Year, as the pay dispute in UK Higher Education rumbles on. Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at the University and across the UK held a series of two-hour strikes on January 23rd, 28th, and the February 10th. They were joined by support staff and members of Unite for a full one-day strike on Thursday February 6th. The current round of industrial action follows earlier strike dates in October and December, in addition to an ongoing “work to contract” campaign by UCU members. The two-hour strikes witnessed recently are aimed at maximizing disruption to universities during busy times of the week, whilst minimising the cost to staff. Unions argue that this escalation in tactics is unavoidable if they are to bring employers back to the negotiating table. Talks over a new pay deal broke down in autumn with the University and College Employers Association (UCEA) refusing to negotiate on their initial offer of

a 1% pay rise (followed by many universities unilaterally implementing this deal). Employers emphasise the uncertainty over the future funding of UK Higher Education, and public sector austerity as justifications for pay restraint. Trade unions reject this, claiming that staff have suffered a real terms pay cut of approximately 13% over the past four years, as a result of pay increases below the rate of inflation. In spite of official communications from Queen’s University’s management to students suggesting it would be “business as usual” during the strikes, many classes were cancelled across campus, facilities closed, and services non-operational. Staff and supporters picketed the front gates of the university during each strike day. A play explaining the issues behind the pay dispute was staged, while students protesting the privatisation of student loans - led by the Queen’s University Belfast Greens - also joined the picket lines in solidarity. Kevin Flanagan of Unite described

University staff join the picket lines in a strike earlier this month. Photo by Elli Kontorravdis. the UCEA’s offer of a 1% pay rise as “a disgrace”, adding, “Gas, electricity and oil just keep going up and our wages just keep getting squeezed”. The President of the Queen’s branch of UCU, Professor Mike Larkin, commented, “With inflation rising year on year and currently running at 3.3%, a final offer of 1% was insulting. Queen’s uses the slogan ‘We are exceptional’ – it is time they rewarded the ordinary staff that made it so”. Turnout following the initial twohour strike was bolstered following claims by UCU that Queen’s decided to deduct a full day’s pay from those staff participating in two hour strikes.

Unite join the industrial action. Photo by Elli Kontorravdis.

Professor Larkin claimed: “The actions of the Queen’s management in deducting a whole day’s pay for each two hour strike is not helping. Instead it is further fuelling dissatisfaction amongst staff at Queen’s. We see it as a direct attempt by the management to disrupt student education well beyond what UCU had intended and is irresponsible”.

Student representatives from NUS/ USI and QUBSU backed the strikes, with QUBSU releasing the following statement on its website: “Queen's Students' Union offers its support to the strike and values the contribution of academic and support staff to Higher Education. We hope for a speedy resolution to the ongoing dispute and believe that Higher Education should be properly funded. This should include appropriate pay and conditions for academic and support staff”.

disruption to studies caused by the strikes, as well as vocal student support for staff pay demands, they emphasised that industrial action was always a last resort in confronting intransigent management.

Rebecca Hall, president of NUS-USI, along with other representatives from the trade union movement, spoke in support of the strike at a rally in QUBSU on February 6th. Speakers underlined what they perceived as the relevance of the demand for a living wage to the wider context of the immense pay gap between the highest and lowest paid individuals in Higher Education, and declining average pay across the economy.

Professor Brian Kelly of Queen’s University’s School of History and Anthropology, a member of UCU, told The Gown after the rally, “I’d like students to think about who lectures them: inflation has hit us hard as it has hit everyone, and many of us have families we help to support. We’re not in a completely different situation than themselves or their families. So it matters a lot when we get an effective pay cut of 13 % over a few years”.

Discussion during and after the rally focused on the battle for student “hearts and minds”. While trade unionists acknowledged the

While the next date for strike action is not yet confirmed, further two-hour strikes by UCU are expected over the coming month.

Rather than turning their ire on staff demanding a pay rise in line with inflation, students were encouraged to lobby Queen’s senior management to return to negotiations with Higher Education trade unions.

Changes Proposed to Schedule of Academic Year Queen’s students may witness changes in how their academic year is structured, as university officials communicate details of proposals to alter annual timetables. Andrew Doherty Contributor The university has outlined three possible options for changes to the academic year, in a bid to improve the efficiency of the calendar - with a specific focus on the placement of exam periods: “Option A” proposes only minor variations to the calendar, for instance

beginning the academic year one week earlier than its current start date in the third week of September date. “Option B” suggests beginning the academic year significantly earlier, in order for semester one assessment to take place before the winter holidays. Subsequently semester two would also begin and end earlier.

“Option C” is perhaps the most radical of the proposals, stating that formal examinations would take place only at the end of the year, thus replacing the need for the winter examination period. Changes outlined here would also see the removal of the essay assignment method of assessment. Provisions would be made to maximise the period of time allocated for revision at the end of the year.

Niall McShane, President of Queen’s University’s Students’ Union, noted in his most recent report to Student Councillors (of February 10th) that, “The University formed a working group entitled ‘Academic Year Structure Review’, chaired by Professor Shane O’Neill, to review all aspects of the academic year and to bring forward proposals to enhance current arrangements”, adding that both he and Dominic Doherty (the

Deputy Director of the Students’ Union) had sought to communicate the views of students to the working group as part of its first meeting. It is as yet unknown which of these plans – if any – will be implemented, and when such changes would come into effect.

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05 News Queen’s Team Struggle on University Challenge After a confident start from this year’s Queen’s University Challenge hopefuls, they floundered in the most recent round of the quiz – but they still have everything to play for as the competition heats up. Anna Cafolla Contributor An unfortunate loss for the Queen’s University Challenge team in the programme’s quarter finals saw an overall win slip further from the reach of the four students. Captained by Irish Theatre PhD student Joseph Greenwood, the team lost out in a match against Southampton University, scoring 90 points which were beaten by Southampton’s 290. The last time a team from Queen’s reached the show’s final was 1981 – making 2013/14’s team the second from the university to reach this level in the competition. To reach the final, teams must win two out of their three quarter final matches. The preliminary show saw Queen’s beat Aberdeen in their first

round by a margin of 35 points. They then went on to triumph over Cambridge’s Downing College with 210 points to 135. Their opponents in the quiz’s most recent round, Southampton University, sustained a loss in their first round to the London School of Oriental and African Studies. They then went on to win against Loughborough, next beating the University of Bangor’s team with a score of 335 points. The latest quarter final match (shown on BBC2 on February 3rd) saw Queen’s off to a positive start, with History student Suzanne Cobain responding first, giving the team a chance at bonus points. Joseph Greenwood, Suzanne Cobain, Gareth Gamble and Alexander Green worked quickly and diligently

The Queen’s University Challenge Team. Photo from BBC Galleries. together before points were stolen at an escalating speed by Southampton. The contestants answered questions in rounds varying from psychology, culinary arts, history, music to literature, but were unfortunately pipped to the post by the English team. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, the team’s captain admitted, “It was just one of those off days to be honest.

Definitely, there is an element of luck but we were all a bit hesitant and unwilling to buzz in early as we had done in the first two matches”. He further stated, “There were quite a few questions which I knew but was waiting too long for Jeremy to give more of the question…Southampton were very on form that day and we were quite unlucky to meet them on an occasion where

they were quite confident”. Despite the loss, Greenwood referred to the event as a “great experience” for all those involved. Their next match will be weighted more heavily in securing them a place in the final, seeing the team up against contestants from the University of Cambridge.

PTQ Magazine Returns The oft-controversial PTQ Magazine – the flagship publication of Queen’s University’s RAG Society – returns this month. The Gown looks forward to its release.

A Preview of the new PTQ Magazine. Derek Crosby Contributor

Age Northern Ireland and the Michaela Foundation.

The PTQ is gearing up to release their 86th edition later this month. The PTQ – an acronym for the Latin “Pro Tanto Quid”, derived from the motto of the Belfast City coat of arms: “Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus” and meaning “What shall we give for so much in return?” – is the longest-running publication of any RAG (Raising and Giving) Society in the world. The magazine has been in print continuously since 1928, and is released every year to benefit local charities and causes. This year the profits from the magazine will be shared evenly between the Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke Foundation, MacMillan Cancer Research,

The magazine has been a source of no small controversy in the past over its jokes and pictures. It was briefly withdrawn from circulation in 1997 after printing jokes about Princess Diana, and in 1965 the magazine's title was writ large on the dome of Belfast City Hall. This year, the magazine will return to its original A4 format, whilst retaining the centrefolds and cover models of more recent editions. The PTQ is aiming for a wider distribution this year, venturing beyond the Students' Union and into the bars and taverns of Belfast and Derry. Anyone who is interested in finding out more about the magazine should email

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News 06 Queen’s Lecturers Narrowly Miss Out on BAFTA Queen’s University’s Glenn Patterson and Colin Carberry narrowly missed out on the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for “Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Producer or Director” in a glittering London ceremony earlier this week - pipped to the post by Kieran Evans. Desmond Eastwood Asst. Photograpy Editor @thegownqub

Mr Patterson (a creative writing lecturer in the School of English) and Mr Carberry (who works in the University’s accounting department) were nominated for a BAFTA for their work on 2012 feature film Good Vibrations, based on the life of the “Godfather of Northern Irish Punk”, Terri Hooley. They were amongst the stars to attend the awards this Sunday, February 16th, but ultimately it was Welsh director Kieran Evans who scooped the prize for his feature film Kelly + Victor. The ceremony took place in the English capital’s Royal Opera House. Upon learning of their nomination, Mr Patterson and Mr Carberry told the Newsletter that the news was a, “lovely way to start the New Year”. Their film – Good Vibrations - has already won several awards, includ-

ing that for “Best Screenplay” at the Dinard British Film Festival. Belfastborn Glenn Patterson, has described the film as, “a very Belfast movie”, noting that both his and Mr Carberry’s contribution marked, “the first time either of us has written for screen”, and calling the experience, “an adventure”. Colin Carberry noted that, “It may be a nomination for Glenn and I but really it is a nod to the entire Good Vibrations team”. The writers acknowledged that they were delighted with the response the film received within Northern Ireland and further afield. Good Vibrations tells the story of Mr Hooley’s rise to fame as the former manager of iconoclastic bands such as the Undertones, Rudi and the Outcasts, set against the backdrop of some of the worst violence to occur as part of Northern Ireland’s Troubles. Kelly + Victor, the film which went on to secure Mr Evans the BAFTA for “Outstanding Debut

by a British Writer, Producer or Director”, tells the story of a young couple’s relationship. Despite the Queen’s lecturers having missed out on the prize, their BAFTA nomination has nonetheless helped to solidify Northern Ireland’s growing reputation as one of the Europe’s most quickly developing hubs for the production of film and television programmes. Following the success of HBO’s critically acclaimed Game of Thrones, and ahead of further titles such as Universal’s Dracula Untold, it seems certain that promising times lie in store for those in Northern Ireland involved with the creative industries. In addition to the aforementioned successes, a £14 million project is in place to establish two new film studios at Titanic Quarter, establishing Belfast as one of Europe’s largest film production locations. The BAFTA-nominated Good Vibrations.

Dr Sinéad Morrissey Awarded 2014 T.S. Eliot Prize Dr Sinéad Morrissey of Queen’s University has been awarded the T.S. Eliot prize for poetry for her 2013 collection Parallax. Amy Slack Contributor Dr Morrissey, currently a lecturer in Queen’s School of English (based in the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry), was declared the recipient of the award in a London ceremony on January 13th, after a unanimous decision by the Prize’s judging panel.

Dr Sinéad Morrissey. Photo from Queen’s Communications Department.

The T.S. Eliot Prize is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious awards in UK and Irish poetry, annually bestowed upon the author of the best new poetry collection. It was established in 1993 by the Poetry Book Society, a group which aims to “propagate the art of poetry”. Win-

ners receive a cheque for £15,000, with each poet shortlisted also receiving £1,000. Now in its 20th year, previous recipients of the T.S. Eliot Prize include several notable Queen’s staff and students, for example 1993’s recipient Professor Ciarán Carson (for the collection First Language: Poems), and Seamus Heaney in 2006, for District and Circle. Dr Morrissey described the win as “a joy and an honour”. Her work was chosen from ten shortlisted collections, including those from Moniza Alvi, Daljit Nagra, and previous winners George Szirtes and Anne Carson.

While this is Dr Morrissey’s first win, it is her fourth nomination for the T.S. Eliot Prize, (her works were previously shortlisted in 2002, 2005, and 2009). Parallax, her fifth poetry collection, was also shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection. Ian Duhig, poet and chair of the T.S. Eliot Prize, praised Parallax as “politically, historically and personally ambitious” and “expressed in beautifully turned language”. The collection examines the way in which particular perspectives affect “what is seen, read and misread in the surfaces of the presented world”.

Vice Chancellor Launches ECC Bill of Rights Queen's University's Vice Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston recently played an instrumental role in the launch of a European Cancer Patient's Bill of Rights, which aims to eliminate the disparity in cancer care between European nations. James Smith Contributor The bill is the result of two years of work by the European Cancer Concord (ECC), of which Professor Johnston has been co-chairman, and was launched to concede with World Cancer Day. The Vice Chancellor (who is Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s) has also worked to decrease cancer rates in Northern Ireland specifically. According to Professor Johnson the aim of the Bill of Rights is to,

"Set a standard that all European countries can aspire to, ensuring that all citizens are entitled to the optimum cancer care regardless of where in Europe they live”. Like every Bill of Rights - from the amendments to the US constitution, the French Republic's Rights of man to the modern European Convention on Human Rights - the ECC's Cancer Patient's Bill of Rights is underpinned by several themes, and in particular three key principles: the right of every European citizen to receive accurate information and be involved in their own care, the right of every European

citizen to access specialised cancer care underpinned by research and innovation and the right of every European citizen to cost-effective health systems that ensure optimum cancer outcomes. Currently cancer survival rates vary greatly between European nations, with those in ex-Soviet countries such as Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland suffering from the lowest survival rates in Europe. Countries such as Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands have the best

survival rates in Europe for most cancers. The ECC's Bill of Rights, then, aims to provide equality of treatment. At a time when the World Health Organisation is warning of a global "tidal wave" of cancer (stating that by 2035, around 24 million people will have the disease and estimating that the total annual economic cost of cancer will rise to $1.16 trillion (£700bn)), this bill will certainly be seen as a step in the right direction for Europe, and may even pave the way for similar bills around the world.

Prof. Patrick Johnston. Photo by Queen’s Communications Department.

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07 News School of Medicine Mistakenly Fails Students Two students from QUB’s School of Medicine were forced to repeat exams which they had actually passed, due to a technical glitch in the marking process – prompting apologies from staff. Megan Liddy General Manager @AlrightBolly

The School of Medicine at Queen’s University has apologised to two students who were mistakenly told that they had failed their final exams. Before Christmas, eight fifth year medical students were told that they had failed to pass crucial tests. Of those eight, two students had in fact passed. However, the error missed until after the students

had already sat repeat exams in January. It is understood that the error occurred due to technical issues. The exam answer papers were multiple choice and were marked through an optical mark reader in conjunction with marking software, which unfortunately allowed the papers to be incorrectly marked as failed. The Director of the Centre for Medical Education, Professor Pascal

McKeown, wrote in an email to students: "Please accept my sincere apologies that these errors have occurred and for any confusion or distress caused… I will be working with staff within the centre, school and university to put measures in place to minimise the possibility of errors such as these occurring in the future." Professor McKeown also noted that in the event that a student’s exam was marked higher than it ought to have been, the mark will stay the same.

Exam hall. Photo from Flickr.

Former QUB Student Deported from Israel Gary Spedding, a former student of Queen’s University, was last month deported from Israel. The Gown reports on Mr Spedding’s deportation, and its repercussions. Megan Liddy General Manager @AlrightBolly

Last month, a former Queen’s student was deported from Israel. Gary Spedding was a student at Queen’s until 2013 and, although no longer resident in Northern Ireland, is still a member of Alliance Youth. He was detained overnight at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv before being deported. Mr Spedding is a close follower of the Israeli and Palestinian peace movement, and describes himself as an international activist. He is the founder of Queen’s University Belfast’s Palestinian Solidarity Society. In January, he travelled to Israel to meet politicians and NGOs. Despite having entered Israel multiple times previously, as recently as 2013, he says that the authorities informed him that he was being denied entry due to his activism and campaigning on social media sites such as Twitter. Mr Spedding said he found this explanation “completely perplexing”. As reported by the BBC, a spokesman for the Israeli embassy said: "Mr Spedding's entry into Israel was denied due to his involvement in or-

ganising a violent protest in Queen’s University, Belfast, in which an Israeli representative was attacked, and others were forced to take shelter to prevent being hurt. No country has an obligation to allow foreigners who have been involved in violent activities targeting its nationals to enter its territory”. Presumably, the spokesman refers to a 2011 protest at Queen’s against the presence of Solon Solomon, an Israeli academic. At the time, Mr Spedding was quick to condemn the violence which ensued at the demonstration, in which he took no part (The Gown report of the incident, will be republished on During his detention, Mr Spedding posted to Facebook and Twitter regularly. However, he claims that whilst being detained, his mobile phone was taken from him for some hours, which leaves open the possibility that his personal details were accessed during this time including his contacts list, which he says included other Palestinian and Israeli activists. Indeed, as a member of the Alliance Party, Mr Spedding claims that it is possible that the Israeli authorities viewed confidential submissions to the Haass peace

talks (which had been circulated internally in the party). The student also noted that he was “greatly concerned” regarding accountability at Ben Gurion, as he claims that he was not given names of people who dealt with him. Additionally, he claims that he was not provided with any documentation, except a “denied entry” stamp on his passport. During his detention, local politicians rallied to support Mr Spedding, including SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie, and Alliance’s Naomi Long. Patrick Corrigan, the Northern Ireland Director for Amnesty International issued a statement regarding the alleged breach of Mr Spedding’s privacy: “If Israeli security officials have accessed Gary Spedding’s mobile phone contacts list without his permission that would constitute a very worrying invasion of his privacy. There are now concerns that a number of Mr Spedding’s contacts in Israel or in the Occupied Palestinian Territories may be subjected to some form of harassment by the Israeli authorities. Israel has the right to police its airports and borders and even deny entry to individuals it deems a security risk, but it does not have the right to rifle through a private citizen’s address book without

Gary Spedding following his deportation. Photo by Aaron Dover. their permission”. Speaking to The Gown, Mr Spedding was optimistic: “I have raised enough money thanks to my colleagues in Israel to push forward with a court case challenging the deportation order and alleged 10-

year ban…I feel confident… I'm fairly certain the deportation will be overturned and I will be allowed to travel to Israel again at some stage in 2014”.

Queen’s to Host Heaney Memorial Conference The Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University’s School of English is to host a major conference in memory of the late poet, it has been announced. Tara McEvoy Editor @tara_mcevoy

The late Seamus Heaney. Photo courtesy of Queen’s Communications Department.

The Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s will host the event “Seamus Heaney: A Conference and Commemoration” between April 10th and 13th this year, to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the centre’s opening. The date would also have marked the 75th birthday of the writer, who passed away last August. The conference is intended to act as, “a celebration of Heaney’s work,

and will provide an opportunity for an extended discussion both of his contribution to literature, and of his legacy for future generations of poets, critics and general readers”. Those scheduled to participate in the conference over the course of the weekend include UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Irish Professor of Poetry Paula Meehan and Northern Irish writers such as Paul Muldoon and Michael Longley. The Seamus Heaney Centre will be represented by resident poets Dr Sinéad Mor-

rissey, Professor Ciarán Carson, Dr Leontia Flynn and Ms Medbh McGuckian. Seamus Heaney had been a student, staff member, and honorary graduate of Queen’s. He continued to play an active role in the University’s development until his death, lending his name to a library, the University’s centre for poetry, and contributing a stanza to the institution’s centenary celebrations.

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Peter McGoran Arts Editor @PeterMcGoran

PETER MCGORAN | Gown About Town VANESSA TAAFE | Film of the Month: Her CONER KERR| Interview with Ron Pope CHRISTOPHER MCLAUGLIN & PAUL JEFFCUTT | Pen Point Poetry


M O N DAY 1 7 T H F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 4

PETER MCGORAN | Electronic Music Society Established

Film of the Month: Spike Jonze’s Her The Gown reviews Her: the Spike Jonze-directed indie film that fuses science fiction with romance and comedy. Vanessa Taafe Contributor

Music Four piece indie-rock and disco-pop group The Jezabels play at Limelight on the February 28th. They’re known for their great live shows and, after touring for the better part of two years and releasing their second album, The Brink, this year, their concert will be eagerly anticipated. Find tickets at: www.ticketmaster. Singer-songwriter John Grant returns to Belfast on March 4th to perform in the Mandela Hall as part of the Open House festival. He’s had a rollicking, rollercoaster career but is on top of his game with live performances - as funny as they are compellingly original. Each concert is an astounding journey that takes you through an impressive variety of musical genres. He’s not one to be missed. Find tickets at: www. Clubs & Bars Found in the cobbled streets of the Cathedral Quarter, the recently opened Dirty Onion is situated in one of Belfast’s oldest buildings but has been rebranded as a public house with a modern twist. With food served daily and traditional music seven nights a week, it’s a lot classier than most student hives but is still affordable - with drinks offers and a wide selection of local beers.

Spike Jonze takes a classic love story and turns it on its head in his latest film, Her. Set in Los Angeles in the not-so-distant dateless future, Jonze introduces us to the lonely, melancholic and sensitive Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix). In the midst of an emotionally-complicated divorce, Theodore finds solace and friendship in an artificially intelligent operating system, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Think Apple’s Siri - only less robotic, more LA Valley Girl. Samantha develops a human consciousness and learns to experience human emotions similar to Theodore’s. Soon their friendship spirals into a meaningful romantic relationship, unlike any depicted on the big screen before. Communicating via a smartphone that looks like a sleek compact mirror and an earpiece remarkably like a hot water bottle plug, the film chronicles the nontraditional, non-physical relationship on which Theodore and Samantha embark. Nominated for five Academy Awards,

Spike Jonze’s latest film is currently showing at Belfast’s Queen’s Film Theatre. including Best Picture and Original Screenplay, Her is an underdog this awards season. Although it is unlikely to take away the coveted Best Picture Oscar, the film offers us a captivating cast of newcomers and established actors, steered by charming leading man Joaquin Phoenix as a nerdy high-waisted trouser and bright checked shirt wearer. Scratch the surface and you’ll see that Her provides an in-depth look at society and its dependency on technology. It masterfully questions how much of our

lives we are willing to share with the devices by which we are surrounded. The socially acceptable insanity of people talking to themselves walking down the street in numerous scenes is similar to scenes we witness on a daily basis. The worrying thing about the film is the absence of any serious face to face conversations – a feature of Jonze’s LA which translates globally. While many of the devices and applications in the film blatantly reference current products, the film’s avoidance of product placement is notable.

The familiar yet unfamiliar technologies and setting in Her are eerie, but will leave you fascinated about a time that we are yet to experience. Ultimately, Her doesn’t only explore whether computers are capable of feelings and emotions - but whether human beings can feel and communicate effectively without the help of technology. Her runs in the QFT until Thursday February 27th.


The Gown gives you the run down of the music, theatre and cinema to check out over the coming weeks (and what you might want to avoid)!

Film (Columbia Pictures) The Monuments Men

Club Night (The Red Barn Gallery) BeatNomadic

Album (Daylighting) Maximo Park – Too Much Information

Gig (The Menagerie) September Girls

By Peter McGoran The Monuments Men is an almost-convincing war film depicting a band of Indiana Jones wannabes attempting to save stolen artworks from the Nazis at the tail end of World War II. Something between a lighthearted comedy and a serious drama about the horrors of battle, it’s a well-intended attempt to show us a perspective of the war rarely seen in mainstream cinema. Unfortunately, the movie trips itself up with poor dialogue and a blandly perfunctory storyline. For a film focusing on fine art, it’s a pretty dumbed-down blockbuster, that struggles to make you believe that saving some works of art is just as important as saving lives.

By Charles Cook In the small hours of Saturday night, despite the endless rain, a few lucky people had something to be very happy about: the new monthly BYO night, BeatNomadic, featuring only the finest techno, house and electro tunes. Opening at 9pm and wailing on until 3.30am, it provides a cheap alternative to mainstream clubs. The Red Barn Gallery has been transformed into a venue suitable for plentiful fist-pumping and shapecutting. BeatNomadic joins the crème de la crème of Belfast’s late night hotspots, holding its own with the likes of the Floating Speakeasy. Only time can tell if it will last, but for all our sakes, I truly hope it does.

By Hayley Gault Maximo Park’s fifth album, Too Much Information, marks an understated and grown up musical offering from the band who have remained relatively quiet in the charts since their Top 20 single ‘’Apply Some Pressure’’. Lyrics range from referencing feminist poets to cocktail drinking in Japan. The album is certainly moodier and darker than the group’s past records. Mirroring the bands such as the Arctic Monkeys, the unbearably cool and minimal “Brain Cells”, is the perfect example of the band’s self-knowing shift into experimentalism. This progressive album – jam-packed with infectious hooks - will be enjoyed by seasoned Maximo Park fans and newcomers to their music alike.

By Joe Gilson On the surface, it seems as though September Girls have hit upon a winning equation. The NME has described their sound as “mixing Jesus and Mary Chain fuzz with Ramones spirit”. I hear the Jesus and Mary Chain parallels in the first few songs that the band play to a packedout Menagerie: they race out of the blocks with singles “Heartbeats” and “Green Eyed”. The middle of the set, though, takes an unfortunate tumble into the middle of the road, with guitar hooks lost in a haze of non-descript chords. A screech of feedback leaves the band panicked. September Girls may not be a genredefining, game-changing band, then - but they do have potential.

Poetry The Lifeboat Reading Series: Taking place in the Sunflower Bar on March 5th is the ninth instalment of the Lifeboat reading series – a forum for both new and established poets to read their works. This month’s event will feature readings by Paula Cunningham and Queen’s English student, Padraig Regan. For those interested in literature, it’s an absolute must. For everyone who’s not, it’s free and there’s a full bar.

The Gown

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11 Arts An Interview with Ron Pope The Gown speaks with internet sensation Ron Pope about his new record, live shows and his affinity for social media. Conor Kerr Assistant Arts Editor @CKerr_92

How does your new album, Calling Off The Dogs, sound different to your previous material? It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before. I kind of felt like at this point I’ve made a lot of records and if I was going to make a repeat of something, it already exists so why do it again? I feel like to keep myself interested I need to do something new and exciting. I took a lot of time writing these songs. I also spent more time in the studio on this one album than I spent on every album I made before this one combined. So there are big orchestral sections, strings, horns, and woodwinds, and there are electronic elements - a pumping low end like a hip hop album. But there are also big electric guitars, and there are choirs, and there are songs with crazy movements like classical pieces, tempo

shifts and time signature changes. I really wanted to disregard everything I’d done in the past and make this like it was my first album - to challenge myself to be inspired at all times. Have you got any favourite songs to play live, either new material or from older albums? Honestly, as an artist, if you’re not most excited about your new material that would be a sad point in your career. And so for me, I’m having the most fun playing the new songs. Learning how to play the new songs is always really exciting. When you’re in the studio you layer everything, if you need an orchestra then you figure it out and bring in an orchestra. If you’ve got four guys playing live, then you have to figure out how four guys approximate the sound of this enormous recording that we made, where we could layer 100 people on top of each other.

How important is social media to you in terms of promoting your music and keeping in touch with fans? I think the most important thing is for artists to be able to directly access your fans. When you think about the most popular musical artists in the world, those artists have an enormous social media following and can directly access their fans. I think that is incredibly valuable and something we didn’t have a handful of years ago. I think it’s really spectacular to be able to access the fans directly and interact with them and kind of let them into your life. Even 10 years ago there was nothing like that. So it’s really neat to be able to share who I am as a human being with people and interact with them - to let them in a little more than you might have done in generations passed. Calling Off The Dogs, Ron Pope’s new album, is available now.

Pen Point Poetry In the latest instalment of Pen Point Poetry, Colin Dardis selects original poems from two up and coming writers. The Wake House

Death With Honour

By Christopher McLaughlin

By Paul Jeffcutt

It’s standing room only in the sitting room:

Your pink stockings,

A mishmash of chairs, stools and garden furniture

pirouettes and gilded pantaloons

Occupied by the grieving. Sorrow stalled by frequent

don’t impress me.

Visitors, offers of tea in the hand or cans of lager.

I’ve turned the heads of monarchs,

Mostly the crack is good; jokes and stories of when

galvanized priests, impregnated Pasiphae:

She was alive. The mirth punctuated by occasional sobs

my mastery is sculpted.

Ron Pope. Photo from Wikimedia.

Electronic Music Society Established Queen’s student Sydney Bull has formed the QUB EMS in the hope of bringing electronic music to the masses.

And shrieking cries of I never told her I loved her. My Mother - the glamour model - stretched out in

From the meseta I watched you

The spare room. Hair and make-up immaculate as always.

for centuries, crossing the Duero

Rosary beads wrapped around her clasped hands

to raze medinas and lop skulls:

Held tighter by rigor mortis than they ever were in life

then you sat down at Tordesillas

She was never very religious, smoked like a salmon

and divided the world.

And swore like a fishwife. Death makes us all so pious.

You can spike and spear me,

I tell my five-year-old nephew about pennies on the eyelids,

slash my ears, drink my blood:

To pay the ferryman for your crossing to the afterlife

but I remain your horned one.

The logo of the newly-established Queen’s University Electronic Music Society. Peter McGoran Arts Editor @PeterMcGoran

lished Belfast clubs where members will have the opportunity to showcase their skills.

A new society has been established with the aim of bringing Queen’s students into contact with the wonderful world of electronic music. The Queen’s EMS (Electronic Music Society) will cater to beat-centric minds and those with aspirations of DJing in their hearts.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for fans of electronic music, like myself”, says the society’s founder. “We have a good group of tutors with a lot of experience and they are really excited to teach our new members and to put on some memorable nights”.

Founded recently by Sonic Arts student and electronic music enthusiast Sydney Bull, the society will look to tutor members in the art of DJing, and will organise nights in estab-

All students are invited to join the society, for the small sum of £3. For more information, check out QUB Electronic Music Society on Facebook.

He says he has no pennies; he spent them on fruit pastilles Later he lines the sweets on her corpse, from breast to navel In a carefully chosen sequence: red…. amber…. green.

The Gown


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MICHAEL GRANT | NekNomination: A Sip Too Far? MATTHEW LAW | Winter Olympics Overshadowed by Controversy NIAMH MARLEY | Rolling News: The Ultimate Rumour Mill SONIA BENHASSINE | US President Takes on Fox News Anchor


MICHAEL GRANT | The Relationship between Doctors and the Pharamaceutical Industry HANNAH GREENFIELD | Has Social Media changed the University Experience?

NekNomination: A Sip Too Far? The Gown reprts on the latest fixture on the newsfeeds of students across the globe. Michael Grant Health Correspondent @mickgrant

The hashtag #NekNominate has been trending in the UK for over a month now, but for those of you that have somehow avoided the blurry iPhone videos that now plague the internet, let’s first explain what exactly a ‘NekNomination’ is. Thought to have originated in a private college in Western Australia earlier this year, the game involves downing the alcoholic drink of your choosing in an extreme manner on camera - and finishing your vignette by (Nek)nominating a pal of yours to do the same in the next 24 hours, lest they “break the chain”. The exact method and amount of consumption is up to the nominee but the subtext of

the challenge encourages the person to adopt a radical approach. This can result in people drinking excessive volumes of alcohol, noxious concoctions of drinks with unorthodox mixers, and/or drinking in bizarre settings, e.g: whilst upside down, whilst skinny dipping, or whilst in the Holylands wearing nothing but underwear. While it may have initially been intended as nothing more than a modern take on a drinking game between friends, the ‘Nek-ing’ meme took a tragic turn at the start of this month, when the craze resulted in the death of 19 year old Jonny Byrne from County Carlow. As part of his nomination, Byrne reportedly jumped into the River Barrow and subsequently drowned. As the search for Jonny Byrne continued

in the early hours of Saturday February 1st, the body of 23 year old Ross Cummins – a Dublin-based DJ – was found by friends in a house on Macken Street in Dublin city centre, after he also allegedly took part in a similar challenge. These devastating events have prompted calls from family members of the victims and alcohol action groups hoping to end the fad before it claims another life. Yet, at time of writing, the hashtag is still going strong. However, born of these recent tragedies comes a variation on the original theme – namely the #RAKnomination. RAK stands for “Random Act of Kindness”, and this new meme sees young people nominating each other to go out into the world and do something nice for a stranger. While still in its

‘NekNomination’. Photo by Michael Fajardo, from Flickr. infancy, ‘RAKnomination’ is picking up momentum. At the end of the day, whatever your thoughts on ‘NekNomination’, it is important to remember that alcohol is a poison when consumed in high dosages. Responsible alcohol consump-

tion is something that is becoming more and more important in a culture increasingly geared towards binge drinking, especially among students. For people who are concerned about their drinking, or someone else's - Drinkline runs a free, confidential helpline on 0800 917 8282.

Winter Olympics Overshadowed by Controversy The Olympic Games continue in Sochi, Russia, this week - despite protests over the country’s human rights record.

The Sochi Olympic Games. Photo from Flickr. Matthew Law Features Editor @Nantan_Cochise

The 22nd Winter Games kicked off at

over its recent legislation regarding

£31.8billion. Yet many of Sochi’s guests

tion included no homosexual residents.

named ‘Gay Mountain’ that premiered

– from journalists to athletes - have

The claim was refuted by many,

on the same day as the Games’ Opening

encountered appalling conditions, rais-

including Andrei Tanikchev, owner of

Ceremony. The advert features a song

ing questions as to where this budget

the city’s leading gay nightclub, who

including the lyrics, “Good luck gays,

has been spent. By Thursday, February

referred to Sochi as having been the

on gay mountain”. Dan Brooke, Chief

6th, 26,000 tweets using the hashtag

“gay capital” of Russia during the days

Marketing and Communications Officer

#sochiproblems had surfaced, and an

of the Soviet Union. Members of Rus-

of Channel 4, stated the following: “This

account named @sochifailure (which

sian punk band Pussy Riot who were

is a typically Channel 4 way of celebrat-

has gone on to attract over 32,000

recently released from prison (having

ing the start of the Winter Games

followers) had been created. Both show-

formerly been incarcerated on charges

and showing our support to all of the

cased a range of Sochi’s under-finished

of “hooliganism”), are participating in

athletes out in Sochi, gay or straight”.

facilities, from urinals with no pipes to

a worldwide tour to raise awareness

doorways covered with cardboard.

of what is happening in their mother

Despite criticisms, the Games got off to


a strong start. The Opening Ceremony

homosexuality, with President Vladimir Putin having signed into law a ban on

These embarrassments have been

the “propaganda of non-traditional

heaped upon the ongoing outcry

Closer to home, UK television station

and critics, and the events have already

sexual relations to minors”.

against Russia’s anti-gay laws. Inter-

Channel 4 rebranded its famous number

made for exhilarating and memorable

national objection to Russia’s stance

four logo with the rainbow colours tra-

viewing. The Winter Olympics run

the beginning of the month, coinciding

was very well received by both viewers

with LGBT History Month (as celebrated

Russia’s Winter Games in Russia are

on LGBT rights was exacerbated last

ditionally associated with the gay pride

until February 23rd, when the Closing

in the UK). The sporting competition

the most expensive Olympic Games

month, when Sochi's Mayor claimed

flag. The organisation also released a

Ceremony will take place.

arrives in Sochi as Russia faces scrutiny

in history, having cost a staggering

that the city’s 343,000 strong popula-

ninety second on-screen advertisement

Rolling News: Is It The Ultimate Rumour Mill? Developing technologies have allowed us to have constant access to developing news stories. But is rolling news always a positive thing? Níamh Marley Assistant Features Editor @GownFeatures

July 22nd, 2013: the day when Prince George of Cambridge came squawking into the world. I, like many others, found out via Twitter that the future King had been born, and was furious at missing the live announcement. This went beyond mild disappointment. At every available opportunity, I had planted myself in front of the

nearest TV, taking apoplectic fits if anyone dared to switch over from Sky News or BBC News 24. For three whole days, I, along with millions of others, joined news anchors worldwide - staring at two wooden doors of St Mary’s Hospital in London, waiting for even the slightest curtain twitch, only to miss the official statement. It was then that the realisation dawned on me that rolling news had caused this annoyance.

The untimely death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman also fell foul of speculative nature of rolling news. Within hours of the Wall Street Journal reporting that he had died, several news outlets had begun to guess the cause of death - wrongly placing their trust in blogs and the Twitter rumour mill. One newspaper, in the days after the Moneyball actor’s passing, reported that Hoffman had counselled the late Heath Ledger about drug addiction. This instance of

speculation led to the father of Ledger to release a statement claiming that the story was a “disrespectful fabrication”. The ability to be constantly aware of current affairs is a fantastic development. We are never out of the loop, so to speak. But there is something to be said for even hourly bulletins over rolling news. It is no surprise that viewing figures are down for the national institution that is The News at Ten – there is

normally nothing new to be learned at that time. Having cameras and journalists out and about 24/7 generates an obsessive attitude to news. We become engrossed, addicted, whilst a factual soap opera plays out in front of us, as journalists frantically scramble for words and images to fill time. There is only so much beefing out that can be done. Sometimes the stories just aren’t there – the sooner we come to terms with that, the better.

The Gown

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13 Features US President Takes on Fox News Anchor O’Reilly Super Bowl Sunday gripped millions of Americans as they cheered on their favourite team – yet things were also heating up off the pitch, as Barack Obama and Bill O’Reilly clashed in a pre-game interview. Sonia Benhassine Lifestyle Editor @MissSoniaBH

US politics was recently rocked as President Barack Obama and Fox News correspondent Bill O’Reilly went head to head in a pre-Super Bowl interview for the station. This marked the third time Mr O’Reilly has interviewed the US president, however compared to the light-hearted nature of the 2008 and 2011 interviews, the latest appears to have taken a much darker turn: perhaps reflecting the animosity Republicans feel towards President Obama. The interview consisted of questions concerning Benghazi, Obamacare, IRS targeting and school vouchers. Mr

O’Reilly wasn’t reticent in showing the disappointment and anger he felt towards President Obama, interrupting him an estimated 42 times in the first half of the interview alone. It is clear that Mr O’Reilly arrived at the interview with the intention to undermine President Obama at all costs. This became apparent when Mr O’Reilly read a question from a viewer asking why the President wished to fundamentally change the nation, with the president quickly responding, “I don’t think we have to fundamentally transform the nation”. O’Reilly then pointed out that the phrase was from a speech he made during his 2008 presidential campaign. In the same speech, thenSenator Obama suggested that such a transformation would end the politics that would divide the nation.

The interview has faced criticism from all parts of the US political spectrum, with many suggesting that Mr O’Reilly wasn’t tough enough on the president while others, most notably pundit Geraldo Rivera, argued that Mr O’Reilly failed to give President Obama the “respect of the office”. It has been suggested that the President has come out as the winner of the Super Bowl show down. His composed demeanour contrasted Mr O’Reilly’s hostility. Instead of rising to the Fox News correspondent's provocation, the President utilised the situation to point out the failings of the Fox News network itself, suggesting criticisms of the Obama administration, “Keep on surfacing in part because you [Mr O’Reilly] and your TV station will

promote them”. Despite various attempts to undermine the President, the discussion surrounding the compound attacks in Benghazi was the only instance wherein Mr O’Reilly appeared to truly grill President Obama over something substantive. This interview was the fifth pre-Super Bowl interview in which President Obama has taken part. Overall, the interview neatly showcased the ever-growing hostility the Republican party and their supporters feel towards the Obama administration, reflecting the divided nature of the US political spectrum at the present moment.

Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

“Three’s a Crowd”: The relationship between Doctors, Medical Research and the Pharmaceutical Industry Drugs play a massive role in modern day healthcare: but how much do we really know about their effectiveness? results, and are also more likely to get published than non-pharmaceutically funded research. The trials on drugs that produce negative results tend to be swept under the rug and hidden from the public’s view. This means that information is being withheld from both doctors and their patients, affecting how they make decisions on potentially lifechanging treatment.

Pharmaceutical drugs. Photo from Flickr. Michael Grant Health Correspondent @mickgrant

We hear a lot about medical research in the media - but it’s hard to know exactly what it means, or how it affects us personally. It’s easy to forget that when you go to the doctor to get treatment - for anything from a sore throat to cancer - the treatment you’re getting started off somewhere as a piece of research.

Clinical trials are performed to allow doctors and patients to make informed decisions on a particular course of treatment. It is understandable that, for the best decision to be made, all the information from these clinical trials should be made available - this allows a better understanding of what treatment is most appropriate. However, clinical trials sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry that produce the drugs are more likely to produce positive

It is estimated that only about half of all clinical trials ever done have seen the light of day. This lack of access to clinical trial data is harming patients. The best-publicized example of the extent of this problem is that of Tamiflu, produced by the HoffmannLa Roche Company. The drug came to prominence during the height of the swine flu hysteria, sold as a medical wonder - meant to save us in the event of an epidemic. Governments around the world spent billions in taxpayers’ money stockpiling Tami-

flu, on the basis that it would reduce the risks associated with the H1N1 strain of influenza (swine flu). Yet no paper had summarised all of the data available on the actual impact of Tamiflu. In the midst of this of this scandal, the public do have a champion to defend their interests. The Cochrane Collaboration is an international, non-profit organization that aims to help people make well–informed decisions about health care. They set out to test Roche’s claims about Tamiflu. In 2009, Roche did promise to give the data to Cochrane for independent assessment - but they kept Cochrane waiting until last year. This meant the government spent 5% of the NHS drug budget on a treatment that may not have even been effective. Unfortunately, this problem isn’t limited to Tamiflu. When data isn’t published, we simply don’t even know how much we don’t know.

What is required is transparency in these results, publicly accessible clinical trial information and the publication of the negative results to ensure the best care for patients. Advocates of clinical trial transparency in the UK - including the British Medical Journal and the Cochrane Collaboration - have coordinated a campaign to combat the problem. The campaign (found at alltrials. net) has already gained over 60,000 signatures and recruited over 440 organisations. This article was written with help from Nathan Cantley and David Carrol. If you want to know more about this subject, information is available at, the QUB branch of Medsin, or the newly formed Queen’s University Academic Medicine Society – all three of which can be found on Facebook.

Has Social Media Changed the University Experience? As Facebook celebrates its tenth birthday, we take a look at how it’s transformed student life. Hannah Greenfield Contributor In the ten years since its inception, Facebook has irreversibly altered the face of the internet – claiming over a billion monthly active users, as of December 2013. It’s the world wide web’s second most visited website, beaten out only by Google, and is predominantly utilised by 18-29 year olds. Given that this is also the age group most likely to currently be studying at

university, it may be time to pose the question: what impact is social media having on student life as we know it? It is difficult to imagine university without the existence of Facebook. From the instant I was emailed my location in Elms Village, I scoured the Queen’s Accommodation page, desperately trying to find anybody else in Oak Four, ready to forge a premature friendship based on their proximity to my room.

Currently, I’m enjoying long, dull, dissertation-based rants carefully assembled by a menagerie of characters I met only once, in the first week of first year. Despite the ostensible risk to productivity posed by such distractions, Facebook proves itself extremely useful for those assigned group work. Before the rise of social media and mobile phones, students would have had to arrange to meet at a certain time

and place and, in the often misguided hopes that everyone would show up. Now thanks to Facebook, meetings can be arranged and rearranged until they suit everyone involved. Aside from academia, social media websites provide university students a means to arrange nights out, nights in, and group chats allow for conversations with all occupants of one’s student digs simultaneously (meaning that one tight flatmate can no longer hide: you know

they’ve seen your message). For those studying away from home, the web provides a handy resource to keep in touch with friends and relatives. Ultimately, whether you “like” Facebook or not; whether you consider social networks more broadly a blessing or a curse, they’ve probably had a profound influence on your student experience.

The Gown

14 Lifestyle

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e SONIA BENHASSINE | The Changing Tides of Graduate Employment SONIA BENHASSINE | Semester Two Blues GÁIBHIN MCGRANAGHAN | The Debate on E-Cigarettes

The Changing Tides of Graduate Employment The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) have released a study predicting that graduate job opportunities could rise by 10.2% in the coming year. Sonia Benhassine Lifestyle Editor @MissSoniaBH

However, before being lulled into a false sense of security, we must ask whether these statistics will truly have practical implications upon employment prospects - and whether we should be any more optimistic about life in the big bad world.

number of employment opportunities in the areas of IT, telecommunications, energy and banking, with the number of public sector jobs up for grabs also on the rise. Yet the Chief Executive of the AGR has released a statement stressing that graduates still need to think carefully about their job applications, and understand their employers’ needs. This statement makes these new statistics appear to be somewhat toothless - reconfirming the fears of many graduates. It also bolsters frustrations over the rhetoric which seeks to make an undergraduate degree (into which students have spilt blood, sweat and tears) seem insufficient in the current, competitive job market.

The AGR has attributed the increase in graduate prospects to a rising

High Fliers researchers conducted a study of final year students in June

Many UK students - especially those facing the job market in the coming months – will welcome the news that graduate vacancies are on the rise, after years of headlines about the severe lack of graduate employment opportunities.

2013 and found them to be the most optimistic university leavers for fifteen years - with 44% of those surveyed of the belief that they would gain graduate employment by the time they left university. However, in many professions (especially in such a small region as Northern Ireland) there doubtlessly exists a certain degree of nepotism, which can be incredibly disheartening for graduates. The vast over-subscription to Master’s programmes may be the biggest indicator of graduates’ lack of confidence in the current job market, as many students opt to pursue their studies in lieu of any substantial alternative. Speaking on the release of AGR’s new figure, NUS President Toni Pearce has suggested that little has been done to address the youth unemployment problem

Students preparing to graduate. Photo by John Walker, from Flickr. which appears to be a deeper issue throughout the UK, but which is often overlooked.

It’s often posited that: “Things can only get better”. The real question is how long our young people can afford to wait.

Beating Semester Two Blues The Gown offers some practical tips on how to make the most of your second semester.

Back to class. Photo courtesy of Darragh Hobbs. Sonia Benhassine Lifestyle Editor @MissSoniaBH

For many students, the month of January for many students is a blur of coursework deadlines and revision. It’s understandable that when class begins again, it’s incredibly difficult to get back into the swing of things -

even getting up for class during these cold February mornings can seem like climbing Everest. Therefore, students face difficulties in keeping up the motivation and good intentions of semester one. Some also become disheartened by exam results and disillusioned with their academic progress during this time of year - and it’s extremely difficult to get out of this

slump. Here at The Gown we would like to offer some advice to combat the semester two blues.

which can improve your physical wellbeing and help clear your head when approaching deadlines.

Exercise - Have you fallen behind on your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier and finally get your money’s worth out of your gym membership? For most students the month of January revolves around comfort eating to combat the chore of revision. But it’s never too late to revive the good intentions you had on January 1st. You don’t need an expensive gym membership – why not go for a walk or run after class? Exercise releases endorphins which can drastically improve your mood. We all spend more than 30 minutes a day snooping through Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. There is room for something to replace this activity with something

Sleep - When work begins to pile up a lot students sacrifice sleep, while others may have difficulties sleeping, waking up in a cold, dissertationrelated sweat. Yet sleep is incredibly important for a healthy study routine as the brain uses sleep and dreams as a channel to rehearse the information it has just consumed, helping to establish it in the memory. Avoiding those all-nighters in the McClay and getting at least seven hours of sleep a night could be a great way to shake any feelings of fatigue you may be feeling. Get feedback - Many students won’t have received the results for which

they were hoping, and understandably have become disheartened. Talking to your lecturers and getting adequate feedback will not only let you know where you’ve gone wrong and what you need to do differently during semester two - but will hopefully give you the motivation you need. Look ahead - No matter how tough semester two gets, it’s important to remember that there are only a couple of months left until summer. Having something to which to look forward during the summer break is like a light at the end of a tunnel. For a lot of us, this marks our final semester in university. So it’s important to make the most out of the last few months of being a student, before the big bad world comes knocking!

Up In a Puff of Smoke: The Debate on E-Cigarettes As new anti-smoking legislation is debated in Northern Ireland's Assembly, we look into the rising popularity of electronic cigarettes. Gáibhin McGranaghan Contributor

Stormont is to step up efforts to curb the number of young people taking up smoking. A majority of Northern Irish MLAs supported the introduction of a special motion which supports the extension of anti-smoking legislation similar to that in Westminster. The motion follows a previously-proposed system that would reclassify currently unregulated e-cigarette products as a medicine, thereby subjecting them to the same trading and standards criteria

as other Nicotine Relief Therapy (NRT) products, such as patches, gum and inhalers from 2016 on. Smoking rates have dropped to an all-time low, yet experts insist the dangers of addiction are nevertheless present, with young people being particularly susceptible.

harmful than that from their traditional counterparts. As the devices do not contain tobacco they currently escape government regulation, which has aroused fears that minors may procure them more easily than typical cigarettes.

Sales and consumption of e-cigarettes have spiked in the last year, with an estimated 1.3 million people in the UK using them as either nicotine relief or a way to cut costs in the current economic climate. The vapour produced is considered to be potentially less

The plans have sparked a multiplicity of reactions from across the business, medical and political spectrums. Professor Dame Sally Davies, the UK government’s Chief Medical Officer, expressed some scepticism: “We don’t yet know the harm that e-cigarettes

cause to adults, let alone children”, but acknowledged that e-cigarettes, “Aren’t entirely risk-free”. Katherine Devlin of the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association welcomed the proposals, stating that it was, “High time it was mandated in law so it can be reinforced”. Anti-smoking charities such as ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) and the NI Chest Heart and Stroke echoed Ms Devlin’s support, with ASH chief executive Deborah Arnott calling for a specialised retail licensing system that would criminalise

selling cigarettes anywhere outside fully licensed shops. The Assembly motion received broad cross-party support yet has instigated debate, particularly within the DUP. Health Minister Edwin Poots clashed with colleagues Sammy Wilson and Alistair Ross on the viability of implementing legislation. way from the corridors of power, serious questions need to be asked over the actual safety of such e-cigarette products and whether this is an appropriate measure to help people give up smoking.

The Gown


M O N DAY 1 7 T H F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 4


The Other Side of the Debate on Animal Testing The Belfast Telegraph last week reported on the revelations of the British Union Against Vivisection - that 11,886 animals had died during research undertaken at Queen's in the space of a single year. Jirhe Okugbeni reflects on the ensuing debate. Jirhe Okugbeni Contributor

pictures to tug at the heartstrings: I wish to address that imbalance.

So, here we go - according to the Belfast Telegraph, just under 12,000 animals died in research experiments at Queen’s. Now before we go further, I know that this is a very emotive subject for a lot of people, which is why I feel its presentation in the media should take in to account both sides of the argument. Yet unsurprisingly (sigh), scientific debate has been placed on the back foot in favour of sensationalist narratives featuring cute animal

According to Steven Agnew, Leader of Northern Ireland’s Green Party, researchers can use, “models, mannequins, mechanical and computerbased simulators, films and interactive videos, plant experiments and field studies and human studies” to ascertain the reliability of drugs. Well. sure, unless you actually want to see if the drugs work in practice. This is all well and good, until something like Thalidomide (the 1960s drug that

caused birth defects when administered to pregnant women) comes onto the market. Naturally, opinions soon change. In an age where antibiotics, vaccines and pain relief are so readily available (and cheap) it’s only too easy to forget how we got here: that developing these drugs takes time, effort, and is very expensive. Speaking of expense, that’s another thing that the media often fails to mention when discussing animal testing. In actuality, it’s very costly to use animals in research: the US

alone spends about $12 Billion dollars on this every year. In the midst of a recession and with the regulations surrounding animal testing growing increasingly tight, it would be reasonable to assume that Queen’s Researchers would be keen to explore cheaper alternatives. We also tend to forget that Queen’s (like any other university) is international institution. It is competing with other universities domestically and globally. Mounting research pressures and higher costs may force talented

researchers elsewhere - to places were regulations are considerably slacker, finance is bountiful, and freedom to experiment is abundant. It would be good for those in politics to remember this, lest such a “brain drain” come back to haunt them in the future. Ultimately, it’s no surprise that researchers, scientists, doctors and anyone else involved in animal testing have been portrayed in accordance with the stereotype of the evil scientist. Personally, though, I’ve always quite liked Dr Robotnik.

Hard Times for Dance Fans at Hardwell Concert Following the hospitalization of a number of attendees to a recent dance music event in Belfast’s Odyssey Arena, Brian Martin offers his opinion on the incident. Brian Martin Opinion Editor @BrianMartin2010

The now-notorious Hardwell dance concert - which took place in the Odyssey Arena on Thursday February 6th - has sparked a debate over concert security, the responsibility of major dance acts to their fans, and the influence of alcohol and illicit substances within the dance music scene. Reports from the evening claimed that up to 100 concert goers were treated by emergency services

during and after the show – many due to drink or drug related illness. The parents of a largely teenage crowd were quick to lambast everyone, except themselves. I find all this disturbing on two levels. Robbert van de Corput, or Hardwell (as he is more commonly known) is a hard-core progressive electro house DJ. His music is high octane and among dance music fans and critics, he ranks highly as one of the best DJs on the current international circuit. This wasn't an amateur production,

and it was obviously going to be an intense occasion – as most dance music events tend to be. Firstly, I really don't believe we can shift blame onto a single DJ or even more generally the onto the dance music scene. After all – there are hundreds of dance concerts across the country each year, and many dance festivals. A Hardwell concert in Dublin days after the Belfast gig had nowhere near the same fall out as the Odyssey arena debacle. So where can we shift the blame next? Not to

the Odyssey – the venue has hosted several DJs, dance acts and gigs since its opening at the turn of the millennium, without similar consequences. This brings me to my first thought upon hearing the news about Hardwell: "What did people expect?" Parents have been all too quick to point the finger when they should be faced with a fair amount of the blame themselves. Kids as young as 16 were found to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs before the show. In many cases parents

facilitated this. Yes, the age limit for the concert should have been 18 or above. Yes, the dance music scene is commonly associated with drink and drugs. But the surest solution to avoiding such scenarios in future is common sense and a better parental awareness or control over what they are letting their children attend. Just because the Odyssey Arena or a dance music festival gives the 'go ahead', doesn't stop a pragmatic, aware, and socially conscious parent putting their foot down and making a correct judgment call.

Sports Historic Queen's GAA Festival Gets Underway After months of meticulous planning and with the unmistakable sound of the clash of the ash serving as its starting gun, the historic Queen's GAA Festival 2014 is kicking off in South Belfast. Michael Doran Sports Editor @MichaelDoran_

Marking the first time in third Level GAA history that all four premier competitions of camogie, football, hurling, and ladies’ football have been held in one location, Queen’s GAA Festival was launched in early February by Belfast Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir to a packed audience at City Hall.

With over 2000 players from institutions all over the island of Ireland expected to avail of the outstanding £13 million facility at Upper Malone over the four weekends of the festival, Belfast’s first citizen recognised the “tremendous challenge” taken on by the organising committee and volunteers working round the clock, but affirmed that, “This festival proves once again that Belfast is one of the leading cities in hosting major sporting competitions”.

Acting Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor James McElnay, also emphasised that “Queen’s is once again leading the way, and a warm Queen’s welcome awaits the thousands of players, mentors and supporters who will be coming to Belfast over the coming weeks for our Festival”. In addition to the Ashbourne, Sigerson, Fitzgibbon and O'Connor Cup competitions, the all-encompassing Festival programme features their

respective B and C level competitions, interspersed with various social and cultural events – there truly is something for everyone on offer. The presence of an All Ireland League rugby fixture between Queen's and UCC and a Community Health Awareness Forum amidst the packed schedule serves to emphasise the festival’s inclusivity of a range of events. QUB's Sigerson side may have fallen at the first round hurdle, but with

the intermediate men gearing up for an Ulster final appearance (and high hopes pinned by many on the chances of their female counterparts to retain the O'Connor Cup on home soil), an exciting few weeks of finals are undoubtedly in store for both home fans and visitors alike. For more information on the Festival, see the stall in the foyer of the Students’ Union, visit or search "Queen's GAA Festival" on Facebook and Twitter.

Opportunity It’s staring you in the face © 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. All rights reserved.

Diverse people make us stronger

The Gown: 17/02/2014  
The Gown: 17/02/2014  

The Gown Independent Student Newspaper at Queen's Issue Five (2013/14)