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editorial : where do we go from here? Graduation time is upon us once again. For thousands of students, this is the cue to rent togas, organise buscades, become inebriated by 10am, and wreak havoc on campus. Years of hard work have paid off. Or have they? Amid the celebrations, many begin to fret about the next big step in their lives: finding employment. That the unemployment problem in Malta is no longer confined to unskilled workers is old news. Graduate unemployment has been on the increase for years. This is also true of the Eu, where about 5 million youths are currently unemployed. Graduates are finding it hard to get a job that matches their skills and aspirations. Are we bidding farewell to our University years with nothing more than a degree that’s not worth the paper it’s written on, and few skills beyond finding a parking space in the morning? Recently, a fourth year law lecturer exclaimed to her class that, “you will know nothing when you leave this institution”. What is our University doing about this? During Freshers’ Week, the Malta-Eu Steering and Action Committee (Meusac) organised a debate on campus, where the topic under discussion was whether the education provided by institutions such as the UoM is relevant to the working industry. In particular, speakers addressed the need for students to strive beyond their University degree in order to stand out; by, for example, joining student organisations, doing voluntary work, and participating in student exchange programmes. Pro-rector Dr Mary-Anne Lauri spoke about programmes such as DegreePlus, which educate students in areas outside their degree course. She encouraged students to seek and seize all the opportunities available to them. Meanwhile, an “employability index” for tertiary level courses is among the proposals put forward by the Malta Employers’ Association (Mea) for the 2011 Budget. By means of this, courses would be rated according to the employment prospects they will lead to. This could be another step in the right direction. The Mea hopes that it will also result in “better matching between the courses provided and the skills that are generated”. Slowly but surely, University students are being provided with better guidance and more opportunities. It’s up to us to step up, use our initiative, and take our future into our own hands by making good use of the tools at hand.
David Schembri Cover:
Glorianne Cassar, anton abela, Janice portelli, Ksu © 2010 Insite – The Student Media Organisation. All rights reserved.
is published eight times a year by insite – the student media organisation and is distributed for free on campus.
The Insiter’s News roundup, including stories on Cigarettes at the Canteen, Nursing Course, JEF Debate & Big Companies at Fresher’s Week.
06 08 12
Book reviews ONE WORLD WEEK The Road REVIEW are we there yet? Plenty of theatrics but no theatre wHAT’S ON? Erasmus diaries
Insite – The student media organisation, university of malta, msida, msd 2080 sales & advertising:
20 21 22 23
The CLAIRE CHRONICLES THE NITPICKER ON THE ART OF THE FRESHER HOW POPULAR IS GOD?
24 26 29 30
VOX POP fashion the local foreigner from cambridge with love
10 PLAYING GOD: Emma Grech’s take on the contentious death penalty issue and what it implies.
32 something smells fishy
Christabel Catania analyses the situation of the Maltese marine ecosystem in relation to over-fishing.
14 16 18 19 34 35 36 38
Saces EXHIBITION sTUDENT ORGS. Anna AbELA Philip leone-ganado
book reviews the history boys c&c play A very decently exposed anna-maria
political punch-up Hillary Briffa met up with Moviment Indipendenti’s Mark Camilleri and Ksu President Carl Grech to hear their take on recent events.
40 41 46
erasmus diary home sweet home ‘Gently down the river’
paris motor show Chris Galea overviews the highlights of the Paris Motor Show 2010, which is one of the most awaited motoring events in the year.
anna maria zammit
cigarettes on sale two uom teams at university canteen
submitted for euromilano tournament
he sale of cigarettes at the University Canteen has been banned since May 2008. In February of this year, the Times of Malta asked a number of students whether they agree with the removal of the cigarette vending machine from the canteen. All of them did, arguing that health should be promoted at University, although some also pointed out that cigarettes are readily available in the surrounding establishments. Following much campaigning by students, healthy food has been introduced at the canteen. A large selection of items bear the slogan “Eat Smart, Stay Fit, all day, every day” on their packaging, as well as the words “Health” and “Fitness”. However, only a month into the first semester, it has come to our attention that the new operators of the canteen are also selling cigarettes. Students have been purchasing single Rothmans cigarettes for 30c each. So much for promoting healthy living.
su and Musc(the Malta University Sports Club) are submitting separate teams for Euromilano, a yearly sports tournament consisting of competitions in tennis, basketball, volleyball, futsal, and cheerleading dance between college students from across Europe. The tenth edition of this tournament is taking place between the 17th and the 21st of November at the Crespi stadium situated in Milan, Italy. After unsuccessfully reaching out to Ksu to co-organise the event, Musc decided it was best to contact Euromilano organiser Alberto Tangetti to see whether it could submit its own team. Musc’s Facebook page advertising the event was removed on the ground of violation of intellectual property. While Ksu is claiming that it has been exclusively in charge of coordinating this event for the past two years, Musc is rebutting this claim by pointing out that their statute designates that they have sole jurisdiction to organise these types of events. Both student bodies are looking forward to assisting their respective participants in taking part in this tournament, and wish events to unfold successfully and yield positive results.
JEF Debate: all nursing Can the EU withstand applicants accepted further enlargement? noel camilleri
he University of Malta has accepted all 170 applicants who had the necessary qualifications to pursue nursing courses. 135 students are now following a Preparatory Course for the Diploma in Nursing, while another 35 were admitted to the B.Sc. (Hons) Nursing course. As a result, no applicants who had the necessary qualifications have been left out. This announcement brought to an end a long-running saga between the health authorities and the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (Mumn). The two sides were at loggerheads over the number of applicants that could enrol in nursing courses, and whether the University had decided to accept less students than last year. This issue was also at the centre of a series of industrial directives ordered by the union at Mater Dei Hospital and Mount Carmel Hospital. The University said that during this academic year there will be 342 students following nursing courses.
The Insiter • NOVEMBER 2010
s part of One World Week, Ksu and Jef Malta organised a debate on 22 October on the topic of Eu enlargement, which is a highly-debated topic across Europe. Sergio Mallia, a Pbs journalist, hosted the debate between Prof. Edward Scicluna (Mep, Pes Group) and Dr Simon Busuttil (Mep, Epp Group). Among the questions raised by both Mr Mallia and the audience was the issue of whether to accept Turkey’s application to join the Eu; the effects of Eu enlargement on Malta; and the issue of how a more federal Europe will affect the enlargement process. Both speakers showed concern regarding Turkey becoming a full Eu Member State, but did not agree that a federal Europe would make enlargement more difficult. Regarding Malta’s economic situation, both Meps explained that the new Eu members would want similar benefits to those Malta has already gained through accession.
news anna maria zammit
Assessing Prospects to Avoid Disappointment T
he implementation of an “employability index” for tertiary level courses is one of the many 2011 Budget proposals which were put forward by the Malta Employers’ Association (Mea) on 18 October. By means of this employability index, courses would be rated according to the employment prospects they will lead to. The number of students pursuing tertiary level education is on the increase. While acknowledging this as a positive development, the Employers’ Association stressed the importance of preventing a high rate of unemployment among graduates, as is the prevalent situation in many European countries.
The Mea explained that, “although the choice of study area will still be left up to the individual student to decide, the employability index will enable them to make a more informed decision”. Furthermore, where education is concerned, the Association suggested that the efficiency of the funds distributed can be increased by weighing expenditure against effectiveness. In this regard, it said that “the index will be useful in generating the best return from the investment in education through a better matching between the courses provided and the skills that are generated”.
police thrown Anti-Capitalists egyptian Target Freshers’ Week out of university
uring Freshers’ Week, unknown individuals sprayed a banner denigrating commercial involvement in the same event – Uom=Education/Companies Not Welcome – opposite Car Park 5, hours after Moviment Indipendenti (Mi) had organised a press conference about the same subject. In the press conference, Mi attacked Ksu for giving too much space to private companies and not enough to student organisation stands, and accused Ksu of a a lack of transparency in their finances. Mi is a political group which was formed last year and participated in last year’s Ksu election. As the blame game began, the left-leaning Moviment Graffiti, Moviment Indipendenti, and Ksu released statements about the role of Freshers’ Week and the space which is given to companies and student organisations. While Moviment Graffiti denied any involvement in the vandalism, they said that they concur with the message. Reacting to these comments, Ksu president Carl Grech denied any issues of lack of transparency and said that “Ksu needs to strike a balance between our needs and those of student organisations. Whoever the culprits are, they’re short-sighted if they think that we can hold Freshers’ Week without relying on the help of these companies.”
gyptian universities may soon be stripped of police units stationed within campus boundaries, after an Egyptian High Court dismissed an appeal lodged by the government against an earlier ruling. In 2008, a lower court had found in favour of a number of university professors who had filed a suit saying that the constant presence of police within universities was unconstitutional as it dented the universities’ independence, which is guaranteed by the Constitution. Instead, these professors had suggested that civilian guards employed by universities could take the place of police. This ruling was challenged by the Interior Ministry but, in a blow to the government, the High Court confirmed the first sentence. The existence of Interior Ministry security units in Egyptian universities goes back to 1981, and over the years these have been the target of criticism over the way they suppress students from taking part in politics, and for their interference in student council elections. Considered by many to be part of the ruling elite’s arm, the campus police have often been accused of undermining any opposition to President Hosni Mubarak and rounding up students associated with the banned opposition party, the Muslim Brotherhood. Mubarak, who has been in power for 29 years, is believed to be eyeing another term in office when the next presidential elections take place in 2011.
one world week
Photography luca tufignio
arely a fortnight after the hype of Freshers’ Week, the entrance to the Ksu Common Room was adorned with several national flags, and the University Students’ Council welcomed students to One World Week. This year, the annual event took place between 18 and 22 October. It included an array of cultural events with the aim of celebrating diversity. Ksu’s International Coordinator, Francesca Scicluna, explained to The Insiter that this year’s One World Week differed slightly from those organised in previous years. It gave a greater number of student organisations the opportunity to be a part of the event. Umgs (University of Malta Geographical Society), Mksu (Moviment Kattoliku Studenti Universitarji), Asa (Arts Students Association), Desa (Department of English Students Association), and Shs (Studenti Ħarsien Soċjali) are merely a handful of the organisations that participated in One World Week. Colourful stands, a tasty selection of traditional foods, videos to raise awareness, and a number of debates, were some of the surprises that lay in store for visitors. Stands representing various countries from every corner of the globe were on show, ranging from China to the Us, to Palestine and Egypt. The stands on display outlined the message that One World Week strives to convey: that of unity in diversity. The One World Week programme was teeming with a range of events taking place between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday. Students were offered more information about Aisec, the youth-run organisation which is renowned for organising programmes whereby students have the chance to participate in internships abroad. This organisation provides myriad options insofar as initiatives for students are concerned, comprising voluntary work as well as paid jobs leading to adventures that could last from as little as a few weeks up to a whole year, depending on one’s preferences. Due to the extensive involvement of student organisations, this year’s One World Week included some new
The Insiter • NOVEMBER 2010
perspectives. Rather than simply focusing on culture and global unity, it was taken a step further and incorporated scientific, geographical, as well as artistic features. Members of “Kare4Kenya” spoke about their voluntary work experience in Africa last summer, while Umgs, in collaboration with the us Embassy, set up a Digital Video Conference entitled “Caution: Violent Earth”. The talk that followed was chaired by Professor William Burton, an associate programme coordinator who works for the us Geological Survey (Usgs) Volcano Hazard Program in America. There was a great deal of student participation as attendees were encouraged to ask questions. Another of the week’s highlights was Marco Cremona’s Mount Everest Challenge Experience. Larkin Zahra, Ksu’s International Officer, stated that thanks to Jef Malta, our island played host to over forty international students participating in a debate called “The ultimate solution for a better life: (im)migration? – Exploring Europe-Africa (im)migration”. Furthermore, another debate which took place on Friday, entitled “Can the Eu withstand further enlargement”, explored the boundaries of Europe, if any, with contributions from two Meps – Dr Simon Busuttil and Prof. Edward Scicluna – present on the panel. “Around the World in Film” brought together three student organisations: Asa, Mufc(Malta University Film Club) and GĦsk (Għaqda Student tal-Kriminoloġija). These organisations were in charge of the screening of four films in different languages, namely English, Italian and Maltese. Asa also held an exhibition, called ‘the Globe’, portraying diverse cultures. The exhibition was designed to promote the idea that despite all the differences that exist, the world is indeed one. Francesca Scicluna stated that the bar was raised this year and One World Week turned out to be highly successful, with more students participating, attending and generally taking an interest throughout, compared to similar past events.
The European Law
Moot Court Competition The European Law Moot Court Competition (Elmc) is open to all students of any subject, having sufficient knowledge of European law, enrolled in a university or a similar institution, provided that (i) the student is not practising as a lawyer and (ii) the student has not previously participated in the oral rounds of the Competition. The students are required to form teams of three or four members representing the same university. Team members shall register and identify themselves to the Organising Team (Ot) by means of the official identification sheet, which may be found at the Society’s web site: www.elmc.org. The Elmc Competition is a traditional moot – i.e. simulated court – competition, in which teams of students prepare written pleadings with respect to a problem of European law and present their arguments in oral proceedings before the Court of Justice (“the Court of Justice”). This is one of the rare settings in which you will have the chance to meet people from all over the world who are studying European Law as you are, along with the unique opportunity to plead before actual Members of the Court of Justice and Court of First Instance of the European Communities, and top Professors and Advocates, who have prac-
ticed in the field for decades. Relevant Information: • The written leadings must be submitted by 30 November 2010 (23:59). • The results of the written phase will be announced on January 2011. • The regional finals will take place on February and March 2011. • The All-European Final will take place on April 2011. Case Scenario and Facts of the Case: http://zealot.mrnet.pt/mootcourt/images/articles/124/ Case_elmc_2011_en.pdf Elmc Rules: http://zealot.mrnet.pt/mootcourt/index.php?article=53&vi sual=1&parent=16&id=23 Should you be interested in this competition please contact Profs. Eugene Buttigieg on eugene.buttigieg@ um.edu.mt.
insiter tv is recruiting! Ever wondered what it takes to produce a video and what are the different processes involved? There is a script to be written, a storyboard to be drawn, clips to be filmed, locations to be scouted, people to be interviewed, actors to be auditioned, and so on and so forth. Time management is important. Problem-solving skills can also be put to very good use. However, creativity remains the most essential requirement. With the continuous expansion of YouTube, people are uploading millions of videos every day. Yet, how many can you remember or even name to your friends?
it filming and/or editing. Imagine what a team of creative individuals can achieve. By joining the InsiterTv Video Team, you’ll be able to explore the areas of basic film-making and find out what goes on behind the scenes. So, if you want to try something new and different, join us and you’ll be collecting your Oscars in no time... well, we’re not so sure about that, but you never know!
Creativity is the key element of the few thousand videos that stand out and are remembered. Video and film offer a variety of opportunities to experiment with visual media, be
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The Engineering Course Issue:
Are we there yet It’s a new beginning with an uncertain future for second year and third year engineering students whose academic year started off with some setbacks.
Photography martha micallef
n a special information meeting held on 27 September, the affected engineering students were told that they had to decide whether to opt for a three-year course, which would eventually lead to a BSc(Eng)(Hons), or a four-year course by the end of which they’d be awarded a B(Eng) (Hons) degree. Despite initially being told that they had to make their choice within four days’ time, the deadline was eventually extended to 8 October. The drawback in making the former choice lied in the fact that the three-year course doesn’t suffice for the granting of a warrant, since the programme of studies is too focused. As Pro-Rector Professor Alfred Vella pointed out, qualified engineers are required to possess multidisciplinary skills. Furthermore, as there would only be a few holders of that degree, the possibiltiy would be increased of it not being fully recognised by potential employers. The Head of the Industrial and Mechanical Engineering Department, Professor Ing. Jonathan Borg, however, reassured the students that should they opt for the three-year option, they would still be able to pursue a Master’s Degree, although with limited options to select from. The University Engineering Students Association (Uesa) made its voice heard by holding several meetings with the relevant authorities within the University of Malta, during which student representatives insisted that the total number of their Ects credits should add up to 240 so as to meet the requirements of the Bologna Process, not 180, as stipulated in their bye-laws. Uesa then conducted a survey
The Insiter • NOVEMBER 2010
in which it gathered the personal opinions of students regarding the issue they had to deal with, and the results were subsequently presented to the Pro-Rector. Through these surveys, it emerged that students were insisting on receiving the B(Eng)(Hons) degree after three years of studies. Following the umpteenth meeting with the members of the Registrar’s office, Uesa was asked to discuss matters with Ksu Education Co-Ordinator Roberta Rizzo. Two main issues persisted: the first concerned the granting of the warrant to every student who successfully obtained their degree, irrespective of whether he/she chose the three-year or fouryear option; the other one concerned the change in name of course. Education Co-Ordinator and Senate student representative Roberta Rizzo extensively discussed these issues with the Programme Validation Committee, which is the body in charge of approving courses and regulations and ensuring that all courses are of an appropriate standard. This committee is made up of the University Rector Professor Juanito Camilleri, Pro-Rector Professor Alfred Vella, Dean Professor Robert Ghirlando, Vice Dean Professor Simon Fabri, as well as other members of the engineering department. Roberta Rizzo maintained that two weeks before the start of a new academic year was no time to introduce such drastic changes to a course. The change of name was also a source of confusion for students, who couldn’t fully grasp the meaning and implications of these changes. “To make things slightly more stressful for the students,
news ANALYSIS the Engineering Board were not going to give warrants for the three year course, contrary to what some may have believed,” Ms Rizzo told The Insiter. She also informed The Insiter that the five students who chose the three-year option have clearly expressed their desire to obtain a B(Eng), and not a BSc(Eng) degree. Although they understand that other universities offer a BSc(Eng), they believe that they should get the latter, which is after all the title they’re still enrolled for on eSims. Dissertation titles for BSc(Eng) students are yet to be issued. The rest of the students, who chose to extend their studies by one year, did so with extreme caution. They’re still unsure of their prospects. They are concertned that since their course details haven’t yet been approved by Senate, even more changes will occur. The Programme Validation Committee has promised to approve them within the next
few weeks. The Insiter has learnt that these students do not yet have confirmation of the subjects being taught in their final year. They’re attending lectures and are required to buy expensive books, but they still haven’t registered for their credits or even received their maintenance grant (Smart Card) money. “We shouldn’t have been laden with logistics-related stress at this stage of our studies,” an engineering student told The Insiter. “Engineering is something you gradually get accustomed to, not something you have to learn a condensed version of and be expected to regurgitate later on”, another student explained. Another student said, “It’s always the same story; a simplistic solution being given to justify an intricate problem with serious repercussions for us students.
Playing God: emma grech
The Death Penalty and what it implies The 10 October 2010 marked the 8th World Day Against “the Death Penalty”. It was dedicated to the US, where 52 people were executed and 106 received death sentences in 2009. In the EU, the death penalty has been abolished. The following is a law student’s take on this contentious issue.
hatever slight semantic differences exist between ‘the death penalty’ and “capital punishment”, the outcome is identical. A person’s life is terminated, and those who have contributed in some way to such an occurrence have experienced a soupcon of what it might feel like to be God. Capital punishment is awarded by judicial process for offences involving planned murder, treason, espionage, or as part of the serving of military justice. In some jurisdictions, rape, adultery and sodomy, and in Islamic nations, religious crimes such as apostasy, carry the death penalty. The agent is considered a gross danger to society and must, to put it bluntly, be eliminated.
illustrations elaine bonavia
The Facts Is it the human condition that brought about the existence of the death penalty? Homo sapiens have always lived in a community, and as one may expect, not every community member respected the maintenance of peace and observed manmade laws. Whether it emerged as a means of punishing wrongdoers, or as a method of instilling fear within the citizens to provoke obedience, the death penalty has become a somewhat impregnable phenomenon. Capital punishment is, moreover, found in the antediluvian Code of Hammurabi. Marcus Tullius Cicero is later believed to have said, “Let the punishment be equal with the offence”. This is a phrase that has, sporting its "eye-for-aneye" attractiveness, been repeatedly misunderstood and misused. It is estimated that at the beginning of 2010, at least 17,000 people worldwide occupied a position on death row. We’re no longer talking about Cicero’s era...This is the world we live in now. There has been an abolitionist trend since World War II. Despite this, forty-three countries worldwide retain the death penalty, and the highest number of executions took place in 2009 in China, Iran, and Iraq. In Malta Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits the implementation of capital punishment within Eu Member States.
The Insiter • NOVEMBER 2010
In Malta, from 1800 up until its abolition, 57 of the 171 cases where the death penalty was awarded were overturned, and lifetime imprisonment was awarded instead. While the last execution in Malta occurred in May 1943, the last death sentence was awarded in October 1963. It was never carried out. 1971 saw the abolition of capital punishment from our Criminal Code, and in 2002, the death sentence was totally abolished from our jurisdiction. From hanging to the lethal injection: Is there really such a thing as a more humane mode of killing? The use of modernised “easy-killing” seeks to provide some form of justification for the practice. Perhaps it is the steadfast notions on capital punishment established by the United States that are most terrifying, possibly because the us is one of the world’s superpowers and has frequently exhibited its countenance. After a 10-year moratorium, the us re-instituted the death penalty in 1977. The legal anomalies that embellish death penalty legislation are embodied, for example, in the American Medical Association’s policy requiring physicians to participate in executions. This clearly violates their oath to protect lives.
news ANALYSIS us Congressman John Conyers, Jr. is reported to have said, “[A] shocking two out of three death penalty convictions have been overturned on appeal because of police and prosecutorial misconduct, as well as serious errors by incompetent court-appointed defence attorneys with little experience in trying capital cases.” An antithesis follows: either the legal system is correctly providing checks and balances that secure the well-being of a State and protect innocent citizens, or secondly, and more likely, the overturned convictions represent a legal system that is bursting at the seams with irrationality. A noteworthy case is Connick v. Thompson. John Thompson was released from death row in 2003, a month before he was to be excuted, after new evidence undermined his murder conviction. It was discovered that prosecutors deliberately covered up inconsistencies in eyewitness statements and withheld police lab reports. The us Supreme Court awarded him $14 million. Perhaps this was just compensation, but how can one ever attach a price tag to life? The European Parliament and 10.10.10 Authorities are trying their utmost to raise awareness among the majority. People are beginning to realise that an abolitionist mentality is essential to a proper moulding of society. The fight against the death penalty is a key priority of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (Eidhr). On 10 October 2010, the World Day against the Death Penalty was celebrated, and the European Parliament in Brussels reiterated its long-standing opposition to the death penalty. Meps adopted a resolution condemning capital punishment in all cases and called for a global moratorium on executions. It was noted that Belarus is the only European country practicing the death penalty. The Ep also called on Kazakhstan and Latvia to amend laws that still allow the death penalty for certain crimes under exceptional circumstances.
Lewis was ruled fit for trial, and pleas to place her in a mental asylum fell through. She pleaded guilty to hiring two men in 2002 to murder her husband and stepson so that she could collect their life insurance policy. In light of Lewis’s case, isn’t it a tad hypocritical of the us to have launched a campaign against the recent sentencing of an Iranian woman to death by stoning for adultery? What does the term "moral" really mean? Allowing a dangerous murderer to continue to walk the Earth, be it within prison walls? Ascertaining the safety of the innocent majority by implementing the death sentence? If the death sentence continues to be implemented in certain countries, this must happen always according to the rule of law. Provisions must not be vague, and autocrats should never have a say in the matter. Unfortunately, in some countries this is inevitable. Everyone has the right to life, even criminals who have broken the rules of natural and manmade law. The Way Forward Where capital punishment is concerned, there is no room for error. Absolute certainty is paramount. Otherwise, the effects will be disastrous and irreversible. Because, in my opinion, certainty is something of an exaggeration, the death penalty ought not to be implemented. There are other methods of deterrence, and although they may not secure as final a punishment as the death penalty, they may very well serve their purpose. This topic is perhaps one of the few that kick-starts the hearts and minds of readers who otherwise don’t give a hoot about current affairs. Or at least it should be a matter of outmost concern to a democratic citizen. Perhaps the gravity of the situation is yet to be fully understood. This has been the highlight of many a television show, a subject to be reckoned with in movies, and the crux of so many debates: what if you found yourself on death row for a crime you did not commit?
The Right to Life: Article 2(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights The recent execution by lethal injection of Teresa Lewis caused an outrage among anti-death penalty campaigners.
friday 5th – sunday 7th
university chapliancy community mass 6.30pm, University Chapel
insite The IC Weekend 2010: Creating Media with Professionals Baystreet Hotel, St Julians
Wednesday 3rd – friday 5th
Sdm The Sdm Weekender 2010: Bringing Our Family Closer Dolmen Resort Hotel, Qawra, St Paul’s Bay
ImMediaTe PROJECT ImMediaTe GAMING SUMMIT Westin Dragonara, St Julian’s thursday 4th meusac Seminar on EU Law-making: Co-Decision, Legislators in Dialogue 9.00am – 1.00pm, Europe House, St Paul’s Street, Valletta UMGS New Migratory Forms and the Specificity of Mediterranean Countries 10.00am – 12.00pm, Ksu Common Room thursday 4th - sunday 7th de la salle drama group back to the 80’s 8.30pm, De La Salle Hall, Cottonera
saturday 6th GetUpStandUp! beat for peace 1.00pm – 5.00pm, St George’s Square, Valletta a one night stand with the big band brothers 8.00pm, Mediterranean Conference Centre the crowns live 10.00pm, q Bar, Valletta Waterfront saturday 6th & sunday 7th ksu + ASA singer songwriters’ showcase + art & photography competition 7.00pm, Villa Madama, Balzan
friday 5th MCST COST: Networking and Information Day 9.15am, Villa Bighi, Kalkara
monday 8th jesuits Ignatius, Hurtado, and you: A Pilgrimage of Prayer for Jesuit Vocations 6.30pm, St Aloysius College, Birkirkara
friday 5th – saturday 6th MUHC The Maltese Economy: Structure, Performance & Future Prospects following the Global Financial Crisis University of Gozo Campus, Gozo
university chaplaincy ‘invictus’ dvd night 6.30pm, University Chaplaincy
friday 5th – saturday 7th
vermiglio theatre the collector 8.00pm, St James Cavallier, Valletta
14th Annual St. Augustine Lecture 6.00pm, Augustinian Institute, Pietà
Rotaract Malta La Vallette The Bear & A Jubilee 8.00pm, Carmelite Priory, Mdina
The Insiter • NOVEMBER 2010
friday 12th dept. of commercial law Seminar: Recent Regulatory and Policy Developments Intercontinental Hotel, St Julian’s
Monday 22nd – 26th november
IPES The Role of Physical Activity and Sport in Society Radisson Blu Resort, St Julian’s
Greenhouse Multi-Waste demands Multi-Action University Quadrangle
friday 12th – sunday 14th, FRIDAY 19TH – SUNDAY 21ST
Friday 26th -– sunday 28th
revenance - A Wickedly Dark Comedy About Death and Dying, play by Malcolm Galea 8.30pm, Mitp, Valletta
stewsoft theatre company c&C 8.oopm, Mitp, Valletta Wednesday 24th
Malta Reading Circle The Finkler Question Discussion 7.00pm, 282, Republic Street, Valletta
MASQUERADE 13, The Musical 7.30pm, St Agatha’s Auditorium, Rabat
DJ BOB + G IS FOR GUSTAV Spots and Stripes 7.30pm, Escape Club, St Julians
University Chaplaincy Q&A – Gay and Catholic 7.30pm, University Chaplaincy
monday 15th – friday 19th
Friday 26th – sunday 28th
KSU + AIESEC CAREERS CONVENTION University Quadrangle
mksu hall of fame freshers’ bbq 5.00pm, University Chaplaincy
tuesday 16th – tuesday 30th FRONT AGAINST CENSORSHIP The Art of Silence General Workers Union Building, South Street, Valletta WEDNESDAY 17TH UNIVERSITY CHAPLAINCY Book sale in aid of the poor University Chaplaincy THURSDAY 18TH UNIVERSITY CHAPLAINCY PANCAKE DAY University Chaplaincy Interview with Judge Giovanni Bonello 3.00pm, Sir Temi Zammit Hall, UoM
friday 12th – saturday 13th
saturday 27th – sunday 28th Museum of fine arts + hoasa Destination Art + Books National Museum of Fine Arts, Valletta saturday 27th mwda Malta Open Dance Spectacular 2010 1.00pm – 4.00pm , University Sports Hall GĦSL Graduation Ball 2010 9.00pm, Portomaso Suite, Hilton HAIRYAMP! Brikkuni + Xtruppaw 2010 9.30pm, Tattingers, Rabat Ep!c The Sound of Fall 2010 10.00pm, Stitch Club, San Gwann monday 29th – monday 6th
saturday 20th indievision Popcorn: Soundtrack Nite 9.30pm, Rookies Sports Bar
University chaplaincy Week of Guided Prayer begins University Chaplaincy
UNIVERSITY CHAPLAINCY egyptian night After 9.00pm Mass, University Chaplaincy
SACES Designs kim cassar torreggiani
Exhibition 2010 The SACES Designs Exhibition is an annual event which takes place at the Faculty for the Built Environment. It is set up by SACES (the Society of Architecture and Civil Engineering Students) in order to raise public awareness about the current changes taking place within the faculty.
illustration nicolo bencini
he Faculty for the Built Environment has embarked on a re-structuring of the courses it offers to students aspiring to work in the built industry and the built environment. By displaying various projects and designs by different students, Saces hopes to educate the public on the current work carried out within the faculty and how the new course structure will help to improve the overall quality of the education provided. This year, the event was officially opened on 6 October, and remained open to the public until 15 October. The opening was a success, as there was an enormous turnout out of people who experienced a taste of what it truly means to be an architecture student. The exhibition also gives students the opportunity to exhibit their design projects, which they work hard upon throughout the year, to influential architects. These projects incorporate design, 3d animation, photography, and model building using a range of media. The event is an important part of Saces’ yearly agenda, as it not only exposes students’ work to the public and relevant professionals, but also allows freshers to get an idea of what is expected of them in the course. This is even more important in light of the re-structuring that it is undergoing. The current five-year degree leading to the degree of Bachelor of Engineering and Architecture is going to be phased out over the next four years, and replaced by a twocycle degree system, which conforms to the Bologna Declaration. The Bologna Declaration envisages the adoption of a system of degrees, based on credits common to all universities. The course will be structured on three tiers, each building on the previous one. These tiers consist in the Bachelor’s degree, the Master’s degree, and the Doctoral degree, which prepare students for the trans-European market, and also help them to further develop their professional competences.
The Insiter • NOVEMBER 2010
The first tier degree, at Bachelor level, will be preceded by a Diploma Course in Design Foundation Studies, which opened for the first time in October 2010. The course will offer training in basic design-related tools, as well as visual literacy and communication skills. Units offered include training in graphical communication, in the use of computers and computer graphics, in photography, free-hand drawing and color appreciation, together with oral and written communication. A transitional period has therefore been introduced between advanced level secondary education and the acquisition of design-based skills required for the successful completion of degrees leading to professional careers in architecture, civil and structure engineering, planning, construction management, and conservation architecture/engineering. Following the successful completion of the Diploma course, a student will be eligible to register for a three-year Bachelor’s degree, which provides more opportunities for trans-European exchange programmes. Completing the Master’s degree will give students access to one of the three main professions related to the built environment, as recognised at European level. The objective of these three main professional Master’s degrees is to ensure that the respective graduates qualify for the titles of architect, engineer, or planner, respectively, as currently defined at European level, and to achieve professional status in Malta (currently the warrant of Perit), and in the rest of Europe. Further specialised and research-based study will also be available through specialised Master’s programs, such as the Master of Science in Conservation Technology of Masonry Structures; or research degrees such as the Master of Science, or Doctor of Philosophy. These developments allow the faculty to move away from a single professional degree course which addresses only architecture and civil engineering. It is now a faculty that, within the limitations of the
student orgs. Photography glorianne cassar
University’s resources, caters for the wider issues relevant to the quality of the built environment in the Maltese Islands and abroad. The aforementioned Saces exhibition included an area that showcased the research and work carried out by fifth year architecture students as part of their dissertations. Every year, students of the faculty following the ‘Structures’ stream carry out research on important structural materials, carry out testing, research new ideas, and obtain results on these materials. This gives an idea of what the specialised Master’s degree and Doctorate will entail. Other projects displayed at the faculty tackled recent issues, including rehabilitation of the Ħondoq Site in Gozo, and housing and eco- friendly architecture. Works that were submitted for the Hsbc expo were also exhibited. The Saces Design Exhibition is only one of the many events organised by Saces throughout the academic year. Another event on the agenda this month is the Saces Workshop on Manoel Island (during the last weekend of October). This event is a highly anticipated one that allows students of the faculty to work together to create and exhibit pieces of design
JEF International Seminar and Conference in Malta It’s not everyday that a newly elected executive gets the opportunity to co-organise an international seminar for one of the biggest European youth organisations. Indeed, it took a lot of dedication in order to successfully pull off such an event. Jef (Young European Federalists) is well-known for its international opportunities, where members are given the chance to meet fellow Europeans and discuss issues relevant to our time. It all started in 2008, when Jef Malta’s bid to host the 2010 Autumn Seminar and Conference was accepted. This was no small feat for the student organisation. On the 17th of October, little by little, the hotel began filling up with youths coming from various European countries. Soon, the vast array of languages filled the rooms of Bowyer House, a recently restored castle in the locality of Tarxien. For the duration of the week, Jef Malta had invited a number of speakers to debate and discuss migratory issues, both from an academic point of view and also from a social and political perspective. The members of the first panel were Mr Boffa, Mr Engerer, and Dr Cassar, who explained the basics of migration. Mr Gavril Flores, an ex-worker at the detention centre, gave an overview of the local situation, and Mrs Amanda Holmes, a Uk migrant who has settled in Malta, spoke about her experience. One of the sessions was hosted at Europe House in Valletta. Dr Neil Falzon and Mr William Martin, who is the head of the EC representation in Malta, spoke about Eu policy regarding migration. During one of the field trips, participants were taken to the Marsa Open Centre. Here, the director gave a guided tour. This visit served as a further eyeopener as to the reality of many migrants’ lives. Jef Malta linked this seminar with current events on campus. During One World Week, organised by Ksu, a debate regarding African-Europe migration was held on Africa Day at the Common Room. Profs. Lutterbeck, a lecturer at University, spoke about the topic from different standpoints. During the evenings, a range of activities were held, such as the Jef International Night, where participants presented their country by showcasing typical food and drinks. There were also nights out in Valletta and Mdina. Throughout the week, participants were frequently split into working groups to discuss related policies such as Un Resolutions. They were invited to come up with solutions, which were presented later on during the conference.
The Insiter • NOVEMBER 2010
Friday 23 October was the last day of the seminar and the first day of the conference. Participants of both events headed to the old university in Valletta for a panel debate regarding migrants’ integration. Among the speakers were Mr Julian Micallef, Assistant Director for Third Country Nationals at the Ministry for Justice and Home Affairs; Jon Hoisaeter, Unhcr representative to Malta; and Dace Akule, a migration policy researcher, who flew in from Latvia for this occasion. On Friday night, Jef Malta hosted the “Europe United Party” at the Valletta Waterfront. This proved to be the perfect spot for different nationalities to meet and enjoy the night together. Saturday saw the opening of the Federal Committee (Fc), which is where Jef sections come together and elect new members, present resolutions, vote on Fc hosts, etc. Seeing as there were many bids to host these seminars, and the opportunity was intensely fought for, this proved to be a great achievement for Jef Malta. For more information, or if you are interested in becoming a member of Jef, please send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The re-designed Jef Malta website will be launched in the coming days.
Aegee Valletta Executive Board sworn into office The Aegee-Valletta executive board 2010-11 was sworn into office during an extraordinary general meeting held on 22 October 2010 at Europe House, Valletta. Under the presidency of Euchar Sultana who was also an outgoing Secretary-General and Vice President for the previous year, a team of eight young, motivated board members took oath of office. The executive board is made up of: Euchar Sultana, Claude Mizzi, Douglas Aquilina, Ariana Falzon, Francine Caruana, Catherine Grima, Marsette Xerri, and Annetto Schembri, who were elected to the posts of President, Secretary General, Treasurer, Human Resource Responsible, International Responsible, Activities Responsible, Public Relations Responsible, and Marketing Responsible respectively. Aegee - Association des États Généraux des Étudiants de l’Europe - is the largest pan-European network of students that promotes the idea of a Borderless Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profitmaking organisation, Aegee is open to all youths. Aegee was founded in Paris in 1985 and its members today number 18,000 hailing from over 42 European countries. Aegee works towards enhancing communication and integration among students and young graduates, in a climate of cross-
border cooperation. It is through such cooperation among more than 200 Aegee branches all over Europe that the Association turns its call for European integration into reality, aiming to develop an open and tolerant society. Aegee-Valletta, founded in 1997, is the Maltese antenna of the Aegee-Europe Network. Our aims are to promote a unified Europe without prejudice; to strive for creating an open and tolerant society; to foster democracy, human rights, tolerance, cross-boarder co-operation, mobility and a European dimension in education. We also give the opportunity to our members to participate in International Conferences and Seminars, Training Events, and Case-Study Trips. Furthermore, we continuously encourage youths to participate in cultural events that are organised by the 200 antennas around Europe, including the famous Summer Universities. As a local antenna, we organise a number of local events, for local youths and Erasmus/International Students alike. These events include conferences, debates, thematic seminars, action weeks, cultural tours, sport tournaments, and international events. For more information about Aegee-Valletta and the international opportunities we offer, kindly contact us on email@example.com.
MUSC Raffle Winner Announced
MIRSA Executive Committee 2010-11
The Musc (Malta University Sports Club) is a non-profit organisation, whose sole aspiration is to promote sports and to create awareness among students about the many sporting associations that are established in Malta, thereby encouraging youths to include sports in their daily routine. During Freshers’ Week, Musc promoted this agenda by encouraging students to sign up for a gym membership, and offered opportunities to participate in the Roma-Milano trip and Inter-Faculty Tournaments. The organisation held a raffle for a Samsung n210 Plus netbook. Students who entered their details into the Musc register were automatically entered into the raffle.
During its second annual general meeting, held at the Ksu Common Room on 15 October, Mirsa, the Malta International Relations Students Association, appointed a new executive committee for 2010-11. The committee consists of:
The winner of the Musc Raffle was Jeremy James Farrugia, a 2nd Year B.Com student.
Darren Chetcuti – President Martina Portelli – Secretary General Mikhail Pisani – Public Relations Officer Hillary Briffa – International Officer Randolph Mamo – I.t. Officer Luke Caruana – Events Manager Mark Borg – Student Rep. (1st Yr. Students) Graziella Cassar – Student Rep. (2nd, 3rd Yr. Students) Please note that the post of treasurer remained vacant. Interested candidates should send an e-mail to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Monthly Opinion Column By
Not another brick in the wall Q: What should you tell a freshly graduated lawyer? A: I’d like fries with that, please.
was reminded of this glib joke when reading the Għaqda Studenti tal-Liġi (GĦsl)’s long-awaited Law Course Reform report. It makes for some grim reading, starting with the revelation that a startling 64% of law students surveyed would describe their own course as “the [rubbish] bin of University”. Having been a denizen of this so-called bin for over four years now, I’d say that the report’s strongest suit is its damning critique of lectures that fail to inspire. I would not like to lump all our lecturers into one basket, yet, too often have I watched helplessly while bright students squander their talents in what remains a spartan law course. Some evidently unplanned lectures are delivered with an almost sublime (were it not so tragic) haphazardness, akin to a plot from one of Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist plays. Theory and policy are set aside, in favour of a “black letter”, positivist approach to teaching law. Students are trained to “think local”, in contrast with leading law schools which encourage students to grapple with the complexities of a globalising world. The Entry Requirements Conundrum At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, a fair few of the students who start the course do not have the stamina or the intellect necessary for the study of law. Meanwhile, many law students struggle to read judgments written in Maltese, the Court’s official language. GĦsl are therefore proposing setting entry requirements at Grade C or better at Maltese A level and a second A Level from a narrow “pool” of subjects deemed relevant to the study of law, or English. If one chooses English, then one must take a subject from the “pool” at Intermediate level, and vice versa. This raises a number of difficulties. Some have (in my opinion correctly) argued that the practice of law does not require intimate knowledge of Maltese literature. All one needs is fluency in Maltese, which can be measured by a B at Maltese Intermediate. This could be supplemented by a university module on Legal Maltese, as the biggest hurdle, even for fluent speakers, is understanding local legal jargon when, paradoxically, the entire degree is taught in English. One can partly understand why GĦsl are proposing a narrower range of A Level options: it would restrict the number of students who choose Law as a “consolation prize”. Yet, the vast array of existing legal specialisations makes it difficult to determine which disciplines are indeed relevant. For
The Insiter • NOVEMBER 2010
example, one logical consequence of GĦsl’s proposal is that Science students would be barred from reading Law. Yet, Pharmaceutical Law is a booming legal niche in our jurisdiction and requires a good grounding in Science. Perhaps it would be more helpful to borrow selection criteria from us law schools, which welcome excellent students from any discipline, as long as they score well in a legal aptitude test called the Lsat. A University of North Texas study concluded that these Lsat scores correspond better with law school performance than grades obtained prior to law, which may explain why students who sailed through their A Levels struggle when faced with the legal “case study” method. The same study shows that students who studied Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry ace the Lsat, while Language students (the discipline often associated with the Maltese law course) rank somewhere in the middle. This puts a big, fat rocket under the idea that science students, often caricatured as those who “didn’t make it into Medical School”, should not be allowed anywhere near the law course. A Double-Edged Sword: The Subsidiary Area According to GĦsl, a majority of law students believe the subsidiary area should be removed, while others claim some subjects are more compatible with law than others. My own subsidiary area, International Relations, gave me the grounding in theory and policy that the Law modules lacked. If the subsidiary area were to be removed, this should only be done to address this failing, as opposed to introducing even more two-dimensional lectures on the letter of the law. Wine And Ross Il-Forn With The Dean? While Elena Kagan is better known for being the most recently appointed us Supreme Court Justice, she is equally feted for her work as an educator. As Dean of Harvard Law School, she reformed what was already the most avant-garde law curriculum in the world. What is most noteworthy is the way in which she achieved this: by inviting students to her dinner table. Over her own home-cooked recipes, she would ask students to share their thoughts about law school. If even the market-leader, Harvard, thrives on student feedback, then one cannot stress how vital this is for our own comparatively modest Faculty. Those who find the status quo comfy may be tempted to dismiss GĦsl’s report, but it would be far more constructive to see it as a first step towards achieving the “student-centred learning” we hear so much about, but see so little of in practice.
A Monthly Opinion Column By
f you’re on this page for your regular dose of witty banter and Ksu-inspired humour and hysteria, or you are a member of Ksu eager to discover what sort of witty banter and humour and hysteria you have inspired this month, then I’m afraid you might be disappointed. If, on the other hand, you’re on this page by virtue of curiosity, chance, or an obsessive-compulsive desire to immediately read page 19 of any publication you lay your hands on, then I’m afraid you will definitely be disappointed, and I suggest you immediately turn to page 26, which is a good page and has pictures on it. If you are a member of the first category, then if you are reading this I can only imagine that owing to a dangerous sense of recklessness or boredom or both, you have decided to brave potential disappointment and charge onwards. Therefore I salute you: in doing so you have already proven yourself less soul-crushingly indifferent than the vast majority of students at our beloved centre of higher education, and I almost feel sorry to have to disappoint you. But disappoint you I must, for this month, as Pluto rises in Sagittarius, I am coming to the realisation that the days of Ksu-inspired humour and hysteria may well be nearing an end in their entirety. I set out to act as whistleblower, to draw people’s attention to Ksu’s various misdemeanours and transgressions. I never for a second imagined that people couldn’t care less about Ksu or its transgressions. I set out to check the progress of an unchallenged god, but if Ksu is a god, then it is the sickly, impotent God of Extremely Small Things. To the vast majority of students, Ksu is a nothing. Some 90% didn’t vote in the last elections. I posit that most couldn’t name or identify any members of the executive board, or even point to the office1. Crucially, even among the few (and few indeed) who care, Ksu is quickly becoming a non-entity. Thought experiment: what role does Ksu play in your University life? Did you list Freshers’ Week, Campus Fest, parking permits, toga
The Insite office these days has a small handwritten notice behind the door proclaiming that it is not the office of Ksu. This is due to the vast number of people who, for reasons unexplained, assume that it is.
rentals, smart card refunds. I will not attempt to take away from Ksu the competent administration of these things, but to most students they are like the weather – they happen, and that there are human and institutional forces behind them matters no more than the atmospheric causes of a thunder clap. To continue the earlier analogy, Ksu has become Thor, preening and posing and priding itself on the beauty of its thunder, all the while wondering vainly why the peasants have stopped falling to their knees in worship every time lightning splits the sky2. This is in the main, it has to be said, nobody’s fault but Ksu – they have done too little to make themselves visible and relevant, and too much of what they have done has been ineffective or downright cock-headed, from condom machines to banned newspapers to racist politicians to “expressing concern” about every matter on the sun, but doing precious little about it. This would make an organisation irrelevant even to a student population bred since birth on activism and involvement, but such students are a rarity at the University of Malta, and in the face of rampant apathy, it has proven a death-knell. As I write this, I have only sadness for Ksu, and empathy: the only thing more irrelevant than them is us whistleblowers. I once asked: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?” I now know the answer to be: “Qui cura!” So I pronounce the end of this peculiar game of student politics. I emphasise that the conclusion of this monthly column is no victory for Ksu, though they may well see it as such (and in doing so, prove the validity of all that I have written). For both Ksu and for me, tactics must change drastically, or it is, truly, once and for all, game over. Over and out.
2 President Carl Grech chucked unceremoniously into a skip during the annual Saces-Elsa water fight was a more apt analogy than he could ever have imagined.
the claire chRonicles Passionate, silly and a bit of a nerd; every month, this law student and lover-of-life writes about productivity, positivity and pretty stuff, among other things. This month she ventures into the kitchen for a culinary adventure and speaks about the wonders of doing new things that might scare you.
couple of weeks ago I was recovering from a lingering infection and had to spend days upon days at home, alone and uninspired. As soon as I felt better, I was itching to do something out-ofthe-ordinary, however, I was still confined to staying at home and not exerting myself too much. So I decided to give cooking a try. Yes, I am one of those people who never really graduated beyond the Toast, Pot Noodle and Things-from-a-Packet category of cooking. Now, I am not completely useless in the kitchen: I can make a killer batch of frosted brownies, vanilla cupcakes, rainbow cakes and other assorted desserts, but that’s about it. Until now. That first attempt at cooking was quite an ordeal though. I (nonsensically) refused to start small, and sourced a very complicated and intricately described recipe online for Ginger Chicken Curry. This cooking session took me from novice to executive chef in a few hours. I discovered that washing pieces of chicken is rather disgusting, that cucumbers are surprisingly juicy, and that chopping onions really does make your eyes sting. Unbearably so. (I later on discovered that if you chop them under running water, your eyes won’t sting. I tried it out, and it works!) Throughout the process, I was constantly scared of injuring myself, but thankfully I emerged largely unscathed. My hands hurt an awful lot while “finely” dicing garlic cloves and pieces of ginger, and it did take me five whole minutes to figure out how to screw the lid onto the blender, but let’s just say that it was worth it in the end. I even made poppadoms, and I escaped (what I thought was) a near-death situation by putting on my sunglasses while handling hot oil because I was sure that the oil was going to leap up into my eyes and blind or scar me for eternity. The end result was even more rewarding than I imagined. The guinea pigs who tested my meal gave very encouraging feedback, and even asked for second helpings. So now I invite you to embrace this time of year and explore the endless list of exciting new things to do. Reflect on what you’ve always put off and grab this very moment in time to go for it! Getting out of your comfort-zone is the first step. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
The Insiter • NOVEMBER 2010
• Find a creative outlet. We’ve all got an artistic, imaginative spark within us, and inspiration is everywhere. Write a short piece of prose about a couple sitting on a bench, make up a song about being stuck in a frustrating traffic jam, or redecorate your room/car/desk. Keep this up and life will never be dull. • For a real test-of-self, why not give Nanowrimo a try? Nanowrimo is National Novel Writing Month, where people around the world spend their Novembers writing a 50,000-word novel. This is a project about quantity, not quality, and anyone can participate. I’ve given it a try before, and it is definitely tough but fascinating to do. • Make the most of your weekends. It’s fine to stay in with a Chinese takeaway and a dvd, but weekends can, and should, be about spontaneity and adventure! Snap up a very cheap flight ticket to some far-off land, go to the theatre, take a long walk in the countryside with your camera, or take an old friend out for brunch by the sea. This way, you’ll always have something to look forward to. • Start being the model student you’ve always promised yourself you’ll be. Go over your lecture notes, and try to remember the main concepts of each class. If you’re feeling particularly industrious, get a head start on some of those extra readings, and begin mulling over ideas for that 3,000 word assignment, the deadline of which seems light years away. • Explore a new lifestyle you’ve always been curious about. Maybe you’d like to learn more about veganism or eating raw, or you could listen to different styles of music. Doing things which are out-of-the-ordinary for you can be as simple as wearing more colour, or as commendable as donating blood. Just go for it and enjoy the new you that will start shining through.
And if any of you have any issues you need brought to my attention, send an email to email@example.com
The Nitpicker A
s the indecisive weather of October gives way to the dreary showers of November, let us reflect on some of the more interesting aspects of last month. The now famous Chilean miners were rescued ahead of schedule, all 33 of them missing a fantastic opportunity to pretend that they had released unspeakable evil from the bowels of the earth. Ah well, great to have you back. While the world was rejoicing at their safe return, Maltese papers were dotted with the usual tidbits on the never-ending divorce “issue”, and of course the corruption scandals that seem to be in vogue this political season. Meanwhile, moving on to our dear university... Corporations Week Freshers’ week, by popular consensus, seems to have achieved its goals. What these goals were, however, is the topic of much debate. Ksu would have you believe that all their efforts went into welcoming the Freshers; a noble endeavour indeed! With a stage that would have rivalled one at a Pink Floyd concert, (save for the mesmerising laser display, although, I suspect, not for lack of wanting), Ksu herded the Freshers towards the drained fountain, and with a sheltering hand received the queries that the shell-shocked younglings presented. From their pedestal, Ksu looked down upon their mighty work and saw that it was good. What they saw were lovely, crisp Euro notes, beckoning with come-hither eyes. What actually lay below them was the quad, dominated by the stands of corporate sponsors, and to the side next to Students House, a lucky few student organisations stands, pithy by comparison. The rest of the stands were relegated to the area outside the library. Which is a pity, because I still wonder which of the three endangered species received the most votes and was adopted by ‘Youth for the Environment’.
taken in Malta have quite a high interest rate. For example, Hsbc loans are at 4.5% APR, when compared to the 2% consolidation of foreign student loans once the student begins a professional life. Loans taken in Malta, from any bank branch, must begin to be paid off as of the following month. On a €5000 loan, this amounts to a substantial quantity per month at a time when students do not have fixed, wellpaying jobs. The reason why I suspect that this is not a big issue in Malta is because, for better or worse, most students live with their parents, who fund their academic ventures, provide lodging and food, and cover all the sundry expenses that those studying miles away from home must deal with themselves. In short, whilst unlikely to ruin anybody’s life, the Maltese banking system does not cater for students who might desire financial independence during the years between youth and finding stable, well-remunerated work. And Finally A reader has sent me a rather amusing story about the canteen running out of still water. Perhaps this was a conspiracy to turn the student population into bourgeois Perrier drinking fops. I somehow suspect that the unprofitableness of this business venture, after a quick assessment of the general student population, was quickly realised and just as swiftly ended. On an aside, I did get a chuckle recently out of ordering “Sweet Chilly Beef”. Perhaps out of defiance to the Man, and driven by a sense of irony, I asked for it to be heated. Love, THE NITPICKER
Designing a Cost-Effective Thesis It has come to my attention that architecture students are expected to fork out somewhere in the region of €6000 for the production of their thesis. Now, on this island, we are privileged in that not only is our education free, but the government pays us to pursue it (small amounts granted, but enough to cover my petrol expenses for a month). Foreign tertiary education establishments can often be ruinously expensive, leaving a student far more than a mere €6000 in debt. Having said this, I do note a huge difference between loans on this island and the rest of the civilised world. Loans
On the art of
the fresher H
ow intriguing, you might think at first glance. This is an article about the art of being “fresh”, written by a fresher. It’s inspired by missing lectures, acting cool, overpriced books, and being confused about everything University-related in general. By the end of the second week of the semester, the initially shiny, happy flood of new students has dwindled into shadows of our former overzealous selves. We’ve already grown used to a lifestyle in which we are coffee addicts, fast food junkies, and eSims fanatics. Like crazed birds we flutter to our lectures at the crack of dawn, fearing the wrath that some lecturers will unleash upon us should we be tardy. Bus drivers and schedules take no heed of our frantic need to be on time; bookshops and stationeries insist on guiltlessly parting us with our hard-earned cash and the pocket money we receive through our Smartcard. We must stuff our brains with deadlines, to-do lists, and acronyms. Long gone are the seemingly endless days of an idyllic summer. Over the last fortnight, the dismal weather has reflected our newfound state of being. Quickly, one learns that the more enthusiastic you are about learning at university, the more it’s going to cost you, and not just in terms of the fifteen euros that you’ll be charged for wanting to take up extra credits. We find ourselves sitting in a hall where more than two hundred and fifty souls dwell on hard wooden benches, or on random chairs that they’ve brought in with them, or even on the floor, when no other option is available. We breathe in the stench of other students, sweat, cigarettes, and caffeine. We’re smothered by the humidity in the lecture halls, where the air-conditioners are broken, or so ancient that if switched on they will cough up dust and cobwebs in rebellious protest.
The Insiter • NOVEMBER 2010
We are still brand new and still getting used to feeling our way around the buildings and the many lecturers. Unlike us, most of them have been here for several years, and may have even taught our parents or other relatives, donkey’s years ago. The library is relatively modern, apart from the fact that it too, like some of our lecture venues and the various car parking bays, is far too small to accommodate the increasing numbers of us newcomers. There is a contrast, or even a clash, between us newcomers and those students who have so matured. As freshers, we must learn to adapt to this environment. We must cunningly conform in order to be accepted and welcomed into this society of higher education. No more shouts of “We don’t need no education!”. Enough questioning, and down with independent thought! We must now practice the art of freshers: to be complacent and apathetic, until we too evolve into finely preserved specimens. So I must learn, above all, to keep silent and accept the infallible knowledge of the lecturers, until the day when I have to reel it off by heart in the hope of getting a degree. I will become a faithful follower of the uom system, stifling my insatiable curiosity and my endless questions. I will write down each and every single word that my lectures utter, and regurgitate it during examinations, never offering my personal thoughts or opinions.
OPINIONS jessica micallef
how popular is god with today’s youth? S
ince time immemorial, man has been searching for answers to questions like “Where did I come from?” and “What is my purpose?” The notion of something greater than us humans was created, and different religions evolved over time. The notion of a god or gods comforted people because it helped them to realise that the being who created them must have had a purpose in mind for them. I don’t believe it’s fair to generalise when speaking about today’s youths. The media tends to focus on particular minorities or communities of young adults. In my opinion, generally speaking, the vast majority of youths around the world today find their pleasure and comfort in material things, such as alcohol, drugs, and commodities that can be purchased. There are binge drinkers, shopaholics, workaholics, nerds, junkies… the list is endless. But why are there no God-aholics? Well, nobody said that there aren’t; it’s just that the media does not usually pay attention to them. God seems to be out of fashion, and I don’t think that’s fair, seeing as most people still turn to him when they’re in need. When illness arises, or a time of great despair comes about, no amount of new clothes can help you, and alcohol and drugs can only have temporary effects, which are accompanied by a lot of horrible side-effects. So, people tend to turn to God in their moments of trouble. Then, when the moment of need passes, they go back to their regular routine. This is unfortunately what the majority of youths do. God is forgotten during parties and while out clubbing or drinking, and even when studying or working.
Having said this, I still do believe that, deep down, most youths believe in God, and some actually miss being close to him. I do not see any good reason as to why one should be ashamed of being close to God, but it seems to be quite the norm and this worries me. If youths are becoming more and more detached from God, what will future generations be like? Will God become a forgotten character from the past? No. I believe there is still hope. There are so many youths who are active in prayer groups and activities related to their beliefs. Many participate in activities such as singing in Church choirs, leading groups to guide fellow youths, as well as attending prayer groups to pray for those who are lost and who need to find their way back to God. My opinion is in no way targeted towards any particular religion, but is rather general. One must point out that youths who adhere to other religions are definitely more devout than most Christians, and I think that although some people are fundamentalists, there are many more who are truly believers, and perhaps we should follow their example. I’m not suggesting that we make our beliefs and our religion the sole focus of our lives, while in the meantime forgetting our other priorities, such as our family, our education, friends and leisure time, but that we could incorporate the presence of God into our everyday activities. All in all, I believe that youths are equally divided on the matter: there are those who have decided to disregard God, and those who believe in him and practice their religion properly. What I’m saying is that God and our belief in him should not be something that we are ashamed of. I am not a perfect person or a perfect Catholic, but I’m proud to say that I am God’s daughter and would never deny my belief.
The Local Foreigner
Fellow students hailing from our sister island face challenges that we often don’t consider. The Gozo University Group remains committed to offering support to Gozitan students who study in Malta.
t’s 5.30 am I’ve slept through three alarms again. Hurrah. I leap out bed as my mother’s earsplitting wake-up call slices through the air. Still vividly envisioning unicorns and fluffy clouds, I stumble to the bathroom sink, and begin splashing by face with icy cold water. I stagger down the stairs and retrieve my breakfast from the fridge. As I’m running late, I opt for the cheap ‘n’ cheerful milkshake. As I gulp it down, the local bread man sounds his horn outside and startles me, causing me to spill some. “Seriously, who buys bread at 6 am?” I think to myself. “6 a.m. Already!” I shout out loud. I have fifteen minutes to get to the ferry. Luckily for me, the island is only 9km across. The half hour boat ride usually allows me to catch up on some reading. However, it’s windy today, and the rocking boat forces me to put the book aside in order to avoid severe seasickness. Once in Cirkewwa, I sprint to the number 450 bus, just as three times its loading capacity in passengers attempt to board it. It normally takes just over an hour to arrive at TalQroqq. It’s now 6.45 am, so I should make it just in time for my 8 am lecture. However, being a Monday, the Mosta traffic is even worse than usual, and the bus pulls over at every single bus stop. I arrive on campus at 7.59 am with my shoelace untied. Should I stop to tie it? Don’t be silly. I dash to the lecture hall and open the door, panting. It creeks awkwardly, causing the lecturer to spot me. He grins at me, and very slowly raises his hands and shows me the timeout signal. I must leave the class. Welcome to the life of a Gozitan university student. The troubles that a Gozitan student faces in order to receive the same education as a Maltese student are sometimes ignored. Apart from the morning grind described above, Gozitans have many other problems, such as having to rent an apartment and do their own housework; not being able to go home in between lectures; preparing their own meals; missing family and pets; and (this is my biggest problem),
keeping up with all the added expenses. Fortunately for us, the Gug (Grupp Universitarji Għawdxin, or Gozo University Group) strives to make the lives of Gozitan students just a little bit easier. The student organisation caters for Gozitan students, who constitute around 10% of the university’s student population. The Gug consists of a small number of very dedicated and organised students, who have reached considerable targets since the group’s inception in 1987. The group has proved to be essential for Gozitans attending the university. Gozitan university students receive a government grant of almost 350 euros every three months to cover accommodation and travel expenses. This was brought about by the Gug’s talks with the Gozo Ministry and other relevant authorities. Last year alone, the Ministry for Gozo distributed over 700,000 euros’ worth of such grants. Furthermore, many students make extensive use of the number 450 bus route from Ċirkewwa to Msida, which has been operating since July 2007. It too was introduced as a result of of the Gug’s talks with the Gozo Ministry and the Ministry for Transport. The Gug also helps students on a personal level, with a series of apartments for rent, job opportunities, and second hand books for sale on their website www.gug.org.mt. The organisation holds orientation meetings for freshers, and offers all the help it can to whoever requires it. They have the contact details of most Gozitan students and thus act as a link between the Ministry for Gozo and Gozitan students. The members of the Gug continue to push boundaries, and they are currently working on ensuring that the transition into the new transport system will accommodate Gozitan students adequately. The Gug is currently working on an arrangement which will allow Gozitan students to be able opt to sit for exams at the University of Malta’s Gozo branch in Xewkija. This organisation is a perfect example of a small yet dedicated group with perseverance at its core. This is the main reason behind the group’s success. The Gug is the Gozitan voice on campus.
with love I
have a ruthless editor living inside my head. I like to think she bears a striking resemblance to Anna Wintour. Right now, she is wringing her perfectly manicured hands in despair while warning me not to overuse the word "surreal" in this article. The word brings to mind hackneyed travel guides and gushing restaurant reviews. But "surreal" is precisely how I would describe a recent visit to Cambridge University, and the sequence of events that took me there, along with two fellow law students, Lena Sammut and Andrew Sciberras. So, let’s start from the very beginning. Last March, I had a little bit of time on my hands. Instead of doing what any fourth year law student in their right mind would do (i.e. lock myself up in an Isolation Chamber with the Civil Code and a lifetime supply of highlighters), I decided to coax two classmates into participating in the Central and Eastern European Mooting Competition. For the uninitiated, "mooting" is a British academic tradition that involves simulating a court case in front of a panel of notoriously razor-sharp judges. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s not for the fainthearted. This was the first time uom had ever participated in this competition, and much to everyone’s surprise (not least of all, our own) we won the International Finals in Sofia last May. When this news had finally sunken in, we were told our prize would be a week-long study visit at Cambridge University’s Faculty of Laws. Four months later, we were still pinching ourselves in disbelief as we milled through Freshers’ Week at the university that had only recently ousted Harvard from its coveted top spot in this year’s qs International University Rankings. This was something we were unintentionally reminded of every day of our stay. Whether it was a tourist guide telling us that the net worth of just 1 of the 31 colleges at the University runs into billions of pounds, or the discovery that 61 of Cambridge’s graduates are Nobel Prize winners, or simply basking in the ubiquitous architectural splendour spanning nine decades, we never could shake off the idea that merely being there for a week was a privilege. Our first stop was the Squire Law library, ensconced in the Faculty of Laws – and what a library it is. My inner geek squealed gleefully at the prospect of three floors packed to
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the brim with books, journals, law reviews, antique books and statutes from far-flung countries. And this was even before I had set sight on the building itself, a metal-and-glass ode to minimalism designed by the world-famous architect Norman Foster. While no Elsa members were unceremoniously dumped into rubbish skips, the tamer, Cantabrigian version of Freshers’ Week was nevertheless a vibrant affair, with student organisations setting up camp over acres of green fields. Trotskyists, feminists, Evangelical Christians, Lgbt campaigners, anti-war lobbyists and military aficionados set aside their differences in a collective effort to reel in starryeyed freshers with their wares. Ever the keen tourists, we could not resist a Freshers’ Week rite of passage: punting down the River Cam. Punting is a bit like canoeing, only the boats (called "punts") are especially lightweight and are propelled by pushing a sevenfoot pole against the river bed. After watching two boatfuls of Freshers capsize haplessly, we decided to take the lazy (read: "not soaking wet") option: hiring a qualified punter. This turned out to be a brilliant idea, as he doubled as a tour guide, peppering his spiel with anecdotes, the most audacious of which it would be unwise to repeat in print. Halfway through our stay in Cambridge we caught the train to London where we were taken on a guided tour of both the Supreme Court of Justice and the Royal Courts of Justice. Forgive me for waxing lyrical about libraries once again, but the Supreme Court library is a gem. Upon being appointed to the Bench, each Supreme Court Justice must choose a quote that best sums up his thoughts on Justice. This is then engraved on the library walls. My favourite was an aphorism by Martin Luther King: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly." The Court’s somewhat psychedelic carpets were actually designed by the same artist responsible for The Beatles’ album covers, which may explain their Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds feel. The Court also houses an ongoing exhibition
FEATURE on its history, including an interactive video game that allows visitors to judge controversial cases that have appeared before the Court, such as the Diane Pretty assisted euthanasia case and the now infamous Naomi Campbell v. Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd. Before lunch, we had a tête-à-tête with Lady Hale, the first, and to date the only, female Supreme Court Justice. Adored by the Guardian and pilloried by the Daily Mail, Lady Hale is renowned for both her pioneering work in children’s rights as well as her unbridled feminism. In person, she was a sparkling conversationalist who gamely bestowed professional advice that we readily lapped up. At the Royal Courts of Justice, we had the pleasure of meeting Lord Justice Jacob, a leading figure in Intellectual Property Law, whose wry wit and sheer love for legal education had us in thrall. On Thursday night, we made our way to the famed halls of the Cambridge Union, whose past Presidents and Officers include the economist John Maynard Keynes, Huffington Post founding editor Arianna Huffington and former Tory Leader Michael Howard. At the Union, we witnessed a heated debate on the proposition: "This House would abolish all public schools". A Communist and a public school headmaster went head-to-head in a bid to win the hearts and minds of their audience. At the end of the debate, we were told to cast our vote by exiting through one of three doors: the left door meant "Nay", the right door meant "Yay", and the middle door was for those poor souls still oscillating undecidedly between the two options. And after a debate like this one, who could blame them? It would be an understatement to say that lectures at the Law Faculty were a sheer pleasure to attend. We couldn’t help but notice how meticulously prepared each lecture was. The approach taken was very different from what we were used to: students were given a very detailed outline of what to expect from each lecture accompanied by an extensive reading list, to ensure active participation in class. It also struck me how reluctant lecturers were to foist their own views upon students. "Please don’t write what you think we’d like to read. You’ll argue better if your heart is in it", one Llb lecturer said memorably.
One widely published lecturer was evidently on first name basis with the leading legal thinkers on the syllabus. Another had defended cases before the International Court of Justice. A third was someone whose textbooks I have cited in assignments and exams. Enthralled as I was by this cutting edge expertise, I couldn’t help but be baffled by one second year student who was constantly Facebooking during lectures. Clearly, what I considered a luxury was something he took for granted. On Friday night, we attended an inaugural dinner with the new graduate students enrolling at Magdalene College, which houses the only dining hall in Cambridge still not supplied with electricity. This has given rise to a quaint tradition: candlelit dinner in pitch darkness, which we enjoyed in the company of Professor William Cornish, a luminary in the field of Intellectual Property Law. We could not have asked for more congenial company, as he regaled us with his insider’s view of Magdalene’s illustrious history. We also grabbed this opportunity to mingle with some graduate students. One Llm student I met had come all the way from South Africa specifically to study Transitional Justice, so as to ensure that the proper legal structures required to safeguard human rights, democracy and the rule of law are set up in her homeland. Another told me he planned to work for the Un after graduating, before launching his political career. The words: "the world is their oyster" never rang so true. Seven days flew by all too quickly and soon it was time to bid Cambridge farewell. When our taxi arrived on the last day, our eyes lingered in a futile attempt to immortalise one final memory of the University we had quickly grown to love. As our plane grazed upon Maltese soil, we were jolted back to reality with a gentle thud. The author would like to thank the organising coordinator of the Ceemc Mooting Competition Ms Denise Ashmore as well as Professor William Cornish and his secretary Ann Smith for this unforgettable opportunity. Law students interested in participating in the CEEMC competition should look out for updates on www.europeanmootcompetition.com.
something smells fishy At a time when fishing stocks are in a steady decline, Greenhouse, the environmental student organisation on campus, has thoroughly analysed the situation of the Maltese marine ecosystem and endorsed the ‘Fish4Tomorrow’ campaign, which condemns over-fishing. Here’s what’s going on.
illustration kurt sammut alessi
ecause it’s an island, Malta should be surrounded with plentiful marine life. Is this in fact the case? Certainly, we are blessed with beautiful seas, and the government, in recent years, has made it a point to ensure that the water we bathe in is up to Eu standards. Undoubtedly, it was successful in this regard. However, we, as Maltese citizens, have cause a fair bit of damage to our marine ecosystems. This damage cannot be undone in a matter hours. A primary and obvious problem that alters marine and coastal ecosystems is litter! During the peak of summer, I would challenge anyone to find a clean beach, which isn’t covered with litter (plastic bottles, plastic bags, ice-cream wrappers, beer cans, etc.). You might find a clean one of course, if it happens to be privately owned or regularly cleaned by a nearby hotel. What makes matters worse is that when it rains, all the litter, including cigarette butts and plastic bottles, gets swept into the sea, consequently harming the marine ecosystem. As a reaction to this, on 24 October, Greenhouse organised a Scuba/Snorkel Clean-up (along with Watercolours Dive Centre and sponsors Brinc’s Biscuits). This activity was well attended by our members and other students. Another stress on the local marine ecosystems is overfishing. Maltese fishermen have been sustainably fishing in the local waters for hundreds of years, however, in recent years, technological advancements and a rising demand for specific fish species has caused a critical decline in some Mediterranean fish species due to over-fishing. One of the most threatened species is the Atlantic bluefin tuna, which has been only been farmed in Malta since 2000. It has been farmed for a relatively short period time considering the negative effect this has had on the Mediterranean tuna stocks! Over the last ten years, there has been a pronounced shift in the species of fish cultured, with the culturing of Atlantic
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bluefin tuna being favoured. On analysing the international Atlantic bluefin tuna stock, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (Iccat) found that from 1957 to 2007, there was a 74.2 per cent decrease in stock biomass, with 60.9 per cent of this occurring between 1997 and 2007. This is definitely an eye-opener with regard to the effect of overfishing on bluefin tuna. In Malta, we have three Atlantic bluefin tuna cultures: in Mellieħa, in Marsaxlokk and in Marsascala. The one in Marascala opened in May 2009, after Eu Commissioner Joe Borg announced a reduction in each Eu Member State’s total allowable catch for bluefin tuna. In 2007, Malta signed the Tokyo Declaration, which disallows signatories from increasing their tuna ranching capabilities. So why did Malta open a third tuna fish farm when it was committed not to increase the number of fish farms and possibly to decrease them? Unfortunately, no direct answer has been provided yet. The opening of this third farm increased the total local tuna produce to 12, 300 tonnes per year. Speaking of over-fishing, the ‘Fish4Tomorrow’ campaign was initiated with the aim of improving awareness on how the fish are caught and reared. It also informs the general public on how to make the right choices when ordering fish in restaurants and when shopping for fish, in such a way as to favour sustainable fishing. This campaign is endorsed by Greenhouse, Nature Trust Malta, SharkLab (Malta), and GetUpStandUp (a Maltese Ngo dedicated to promoting peace, love and unity). One significant concern addressed by the campaign is the decline of Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks in the Mediterranean. Other concerns include the capture of juvenile fish; the catching of shark species, either as by-catch or else through illegal finning practices; and the problem of turtles and cetaceans being caught as by-catch by trawlers and other methods.
environemnt To further increase the promotion of sustainable fishing, Greenhouse and other Ngos involved in the campaign held free showings of three films focussing on the marine environment on campus during October. The first was "The End of the Line", which deals with how overfishing is changing the world, and especially how it is affecting the food we eat. The second was "Sharkwater", a documentary about the Shark-hunting industry and how this is leading to species extinction. Finally, "The Cove" describes the annual slaughter of dolphins in Japan. So, what’s the final point? It’s simple. If you want to eat fish tomorrow, be careful about what you eat today. If you’d like to receive more information regarding this campaign, please contact the Greenhouse organisation on green.uom@gmail. com.
Book Reviews Every month, a different student shares their views on their recent reads.
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In the early 20th century, Gaston Leroux created the dark and mysterious character of Erik, who later became commonly referred to as the infamous "Phantom of the Opera". Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation of the novel, and the film, which was released in 2003, brought the story to a wider public. In 2010, Vicki Hopkins re-created the myth of Erik, who met a sad ending in Leroux’s novel, by bringing "The Phantom" to Malta. From the Paris Garnier, Erik, who is distraught about losing Christine forever, is driven towards a new goal when he reads about the fire that destroyed the Royal Opera House in 1873. As an architect, he is keen to buy it and rebuild it from its ashes, giving it renewed fame and glory. For fans of Leroux’s original work, Hopkins brings back some of the old characters, while introducing new and captivating ones. Erik, whose love for the opera and for music continues, is given
the opportunity to remedy his mistakes and excel as a real man rather than a masked ghost. Romance constitutes an important part of this intriguing book. Valletta is depicted not just as the baroque masterpiece of the Knights, but as a centre of culture, engulfed in an eerie aura of mystery. Hopkins’ writing will delight readers. Her beautiful descriptions and engaging dialogue make this an easy, compulsive read. I highly recommend this book, not only for its theme and setting but also because it is skilfully written and provides a good alternative ending to Leroux’s original masterpiece. It also prompts interest in the history of the Royal Opera House, which is a welcome contrast to the recent controversy about Renzo Piano’s plans for the site where it once stood. The novel reminds us that the Opera House was already destroyed once in 1873 and rebuilt before being destroyed again during the war.
Published in 2009, The Price of Innocence is a historical novel set in the late 1800s. It recounts the misadventures and encounters of Suzette Camille Rousseau, a young French girl who was robbed of her family at a young age. Suzette’s upbringing protected her from the evils of the world at the time, when Paris was as luxurious as it was poor and miserable. When she finds herself alone and afraid of living in the streets, she has no choice but to take poorly paid jobs, which leave their mark on her formerly well cared for body. She is then offered the opportunity she fears to accept but also to refuse: to join Paris’ richest and most frequented brothel – "The Chabanais". Hopkins masterfully draws the reader into the different realities Suzette must face and the turmoil she encounters as she is slowly stripped of her naïveté.
From Paris to London, as Suzette falls in love, the reader will not only feel the change taking place within Suzette as she grows older, but also become entangled in her doubts and insecurities. The author manages to portray the social reality of the time very well, encapsulating in the book not only a historical, but also a moral lesson. Although we all yearn to grow up quickly when we’re young and full of dreams, sometimes unexpected turns may cause our lives to take a sour turn. I recommend this book to all those seeking a classic tale of romance and intrigue. The Price of Innocence will be followed by a sequel entitled The Price of Deception, which is going to be published in the coming months.
History? Well it’s just Erin Stewart Tanti
one f**king thing after another, isn’t it?
A review of the play The History Boys, by Alan Bennett, which was presented by Masquerade Theatre Company at the Manoel Theatre between 15 and 17 October.
he above is the response provided by the ever-amicable Rudge, in his response to the question “What is History?”. That question, friends, lays the foundation of Masquerade’s production of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys. I thought it brave and invigorating that Masquerade’s Artistic Director, Anthony Bezzina, had enough faith in the generation of young, upcoming actors to choose a play that depends almost entirely on the boys and the raw, natural energy that they could bring to the piece. The casting can easily be called a feat in itself. An entourage of newcomers was introduced, some of whom I am sure we will see more of on stage. Accompanying the boys on stage were the seasoned talents of Nanette Brimmer and Malcolm Galea. Brimmer played Mrs Lintott, or Totty, the only female character, who exhibited the wit and wry logic that was otherwise lacking in the male-dominated institution. Galea had the part of Irwin, the young supply teacher. I am glad to see that despite being labelled as a comic actor, he was confident in a serious role, particularly with regard to the manner in which he handled the scene where Dakin, one of the boys, expresses a desire to have sexual relations with him. This is where I think that Galea’s appeal as an actor really lies: in his natural ability to act the moment, as he did when considering his student’s proposal. I take my hat off to Jon Rosser, whose role was that of Hector, and whose performance was wrought with the discipline and natural skill of a true veteran. However I do feel that more could have been done in terms of direction to bring out the transition of Hector’s character from the playfully careless educator to the accused molester. This transition was poorly portrayed. At the end, when Hector dies in a motorcycle accident and Irwin becomes wheelchair bound, the play is wrongly played for laughs at a time when a certain element of pathos should have been allowed to emerge. The unfortunate result of this is that although the play was enjoyable overall, the
ending, not helped at all by the cuts made to the original script, could have done with a slowing down of the momentum in order to evoke pathos. What was supposed to be a description of the boys’ dim future did not create the mood that the scene required, such that the potential of the play was not entirely fulfilled. The chorus of boys was excellent as a whole. The staging, on the other hand, was not to my liking, especially as the boys had their backs towards the audience at most times. After all, this was the boys’ story, and not the teachers’. Luke Farrugia, a newcomer to the local scene, displayed impressive versatility as Posner. I couldn’t help but to notice that his character became progressively camp as the play went on. This limited Posner and led Farrugia to fall into the trap of a simplistic homosexual caricature. Andre Agius (another one to look out for!) played Dakin very convincingly, but the inflections in his speech became monotonous during long stretches of dialogue, hence detracting from the performance. Overall, the play provided an enjoyable evening. It was an intelligent choice of play. However, the apparent lack of direction and development, made it seem at times like “just one f**king thing after another”. There was a very poor choice of music included between scenes, which clashed dramatically with the mood. I left the theatre feeling that the play had more to give.
Erin Stewart Tanti
LIKE THE DEATH OF A MOTHER AT THE BIRTH OF HER CHILD Erin is a nineteen-year-old university student and the founder of the new company Stewsoft Theatre, which will be holding its debut performance this month. C&C, is written and directed by Erin himself. Below, he speaks about his work, crass controversy, hate mail, and the truth behind the play with the name that makes people cringe.
t took me nine months to write my play; nine months, to the day, from when I started writing to the day when I finished, sat back, observed the printed words, and held in my hands the story that I never really intended to stage. In fact, the first draft lay untouched in my desk drawer for three weeks after that day. As long as I had got it off my chest and on paper, I felt that what needed to be said had now been said, and there was no more to it. I could put it to rest.
Photography marta vella
It wasn’t to be, however. A certain urgency developed within me, that spoke of a story needing to be told. As a thespian with greater priorities that petty entertainment I therefore felt almost duty bound to see to the play’s staging. Is it art if no one is there to see it? Possibly. But art wasn’t my only concern. I was concerned about myself too.
The story I intended to write began as a poem about two young lovers. They are naïve and find themselves thrust, unprepared and unwillingly, into a place where they only have each other to confide in. Having fallen out of love, they remain together, because no one else will have them. In the initial stages, the work was brashly erotic, self-consciously shocking, and rather immature. It was dim rather than blunt, and, looking back, dishonest. It was when I decided to write about my own experiences that the writing really took off. I observed that the man, Derrick, will destroy what cannot be his, so as to appropriate it, even if by force. Having no more use for that beauty, he will dispose of it. I could identify with this behaviour.
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The abusive, ego-centric, and destructive overtones were not lost as the poem developed and morphed into a play. However, the transition was accompanied by the onset of a tinge of sensitivity. There was a touch of feeling in the midst of the barbaric scrawling. This became the bedbound character of Delilah. The inclusion of the female character in the play transformed it from pseudo-erotica into an honest, desperate cry for help from a whole generation of adolescents, confused by the intricacies of physical intimacy and its downsides. C&C became a love story of sorts, and not a piece written as an “issues” play. It is the very real story of a young love affair that has been compromised. I was proud of my work. Those who took it at face value thought it cheaply sensational, chaotically controversial, and without any real depth. Those who took the time to read and understand it and the motivation behind it found that they were moved past the obscenity and decadent motives and recognised a resounding beauty within it. I received hate mail too. People called me a “pig” and a “priggish snob” for writing my mind. Others scorned the content and deemed it worth censoring, which, I am very glad to say, did not happen. Without having read it, some judged it by its title, thus showing their limitations. Controversy is proof that I am being paid attention to, and not only for the wrong reasons. Furthermore I can assure these
culture pre-judgemental people that the staging of C&C will reveal their misguidedness. I founded Stewsoft Theatre last March, and decided on this play being our debut performance following much support from the Stewsoft team. Stewsoft Theatre was created with the aim of producing theatrical performances that do not simply sell, but that deserve to be sold. We intend to draw attention to current issues and provide a social commentary of sorts through a variety of works that each, individually, have something distinct and significant to say. In a country where freedom of expression is such a limited luxury, we will speak as we ought to, and not as we are expected to. This is theatre that speaks as it is spoken to.
Competition “What is the name of the new company whose debut performance will be Erin Stewart Tanti’s C&C?” Please send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. The first correct answer will receive two free tickets to opening night.
With this in mind, I saw that I had created something beautiful even while telling a tragic tale, which is why it brings to mind the death of a mother at the birth of her child. I hope that this is evoked not only in the script, but even more so in the staging, and I do hope that it will mark a successful beginning for Stewsoft Theatre. C&C, directed by Erin Stewart Tanti, and featuring University students Mik Pisani and Shazia Khan Darmanin, will be staged on the 26th, 27th, and 28th of November at the MITP Theatre, St. Christopher Street, Valletta. The production is certified 18 and is suitable for adults only. Booking is now open and tickets may be booked online on https://ticketengine.sjcav.org, or by calling phone number 21223216. Tickets cost 15 euros for adults and 10 euros for students. Payment by Smart Card is accepted.
a very decently exposed annamaria The Insiter interviews Anna-Maria Buhagiar, the author of A Very Decent Exposure, a collection of forty-two short stories “with a Maltese complexion”.
hile rummaging through the bookshelves at a local bookshop, I unexpectedly came across a book called A Very Decent Exposure. I know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but the vivid watercolour illustration and the somewhat familiar name of the author caught my eye.
I had a chat with Anna-Maria Buhagiar about the latest addition to my stack of flash fiction books. Your book is one of the few books written by a Maltese author in English. Would you say that it’s easier or more challenging to get published and find a good readership in that way? It may turn out to be quite difficult to find a publisher. The local market seems to be much keener on Maltese literature, and when writing in English a Maltese author competes with a multitude of foreign writers in that language. So, I guess, originality helps. You work at the Broadcasting Authority. You wrote a book. Are you a fan of other media? I have a soft spot for radio, through which my imagination has free rein. A good deejay and a delicious piece of music have the potential to create magic. Who is the target audience of the book? I didn’t target any particular age or sex. The stories cover topics that anyone can relate to. People who enjoy dry humour will appreciate certain stories more than others. Obviously, the book also appeals to busy people who find voluminous novels discouraging. How much of the book is autobiographical? How much is based on observation of others? Or is it en-
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tirely the product of your imagination? Perhaps, a better question would be: where does Anna-Maria fit into the stories? Naturally, experiences which had an emotional impact on me in the past, marked my memory, or tugged at my deepest feelings are reflected in the book. They also acted as a springboard for ideas, but never created an entire story. I seem to be perpetually interested in understanding the reasons behind people’s behaviour and attitudes towards me. I’m rather sensitive and tend to analyse, perhaps too much! I think that the psychological angle of my characters is also a significant part of A Very Decent Exposure. Dr Edward de Bono describes the stories as “photographs taken with a sharp focus lens” that zooms in on real-life situations. Why did you choose to call them ‘decent’ in this day and age when so many relish the indecent? ‘Decent’ in that, hopefully, they provide ample food for thought. The themes are universal and ageless, like the pain of a woman yearning for a child, infidelity, adoption, and even prostitution. Sometimes, the tales are indecently candid about us Maltese and what it is that we thrive on. What did Kenneth Zammit Tabona’s illustrations add to the stories? Spice, wit, and endearment. Kenneth captured the characters very skillfully indeed. If you look carefully enough, you’ll notice something new, something wicked, almost every time. Each of the forty-two short stories featured in your book is exactly 600 words long. Why? And are the stories meant to be read consecutively? As the stories belong to one collection, I wanted them to be of
You compare the phases of life to the weather. Childhood is represented by sweet breezes; adolescence is a blustery period; adulthood manifests itself in fog and humidity, etc. Are you suggesting that life gets harder as we grow older? No, I never thought of it that way. In fact, the allegory for adolescence depicts nothing but turbulence (Majjistral, Grigal at Gale Force, and Hazardous Seas). Those likenesses are meant to enhance the structure of the book while simultaneously pressing the amusement button in the brain. And, coincidentally, they link up nicely with the word ‘exposure’ in the title, which is also weatherrelated. Originally, though, the title was inspired by Dr de Bono’s blurb (“These stories are like photographs…”). How would you define the “Maltese Complexion”, which is in the description on the cover? What constitutes our mentality? “Maltese Complexion” doesn’t actually refer to mentality. It’s simply the way we live; our special food, religion, festi, and places we know. The Valletta bastions, an Għajn Tuffieħa sunset, and Mdina during a concert provide just the right atmosphere. One of my favourite stories is “The Haircut”. “A twinge of regret threatened”, and “lost forever, stripped of their identity” are words that take me back to my younger days, even though I’m still a teenager. As time passes, I find myself feeling nostalgic. Do you think that today’s youth can actually
be interested in past generations, or are they too firmly lodged in the present? I think they’re curious enough to be interested. But this characteristic, the stories transmitting nostalgia, as you say, is very personal. My contemporaries may find the first few narratives nostalgic as these relate to my childhood in the sixties. At the time, one woman in church wore an ghonnella. To poor little me it was utterly bewildering (The Precious Penny). Frankly, I can’t say I miss that! “Your passion for the English language”, as your short biography at the back of the book explains, is what led you to write. Your vast vocabulary clearly proves that. For a writer to be effective, does he/she have to have a versatile vocabulary? Rich, yes, but not bombastic. English is a wonderful language, offering a writer such a vast range of words, each with a subtle difference. But there’s much more to fiction than vocabulary: sentence rhythm and alliteration, for instance, turn this kind of writing into an art. Literature transcends time. What other things, perhaps some of which are mentioned in your stories, transcend time? Feelings and emotion. Homesickness, as in Specialities of Home, always affected Maltese emigrants and always will. Unfortunately, every kind of dishonesty too transcends time. The liars, cheaters, and philanderers will always hide behind their villainous masks and fool those who “fall into that comfortable state called ‘believing’” (Of Smoke and Smokescreens).
Illustration kenneth zammit tabona
the same length. I believe it adds value. The word limit was also a challenge for me. Besides, I find that length works well for me, and it requires a lot of editing, which I enjoy. Every word is important, and what is left unsaid is even more significant, particularly towards the end of each story. The stories can be read at random of course, but then the reader may miss out on the overall picture, as there is a sequence of ages and stages of life.
Nicola` Abela Garrett
This month’s Erasmus Diary gives us a glimpse of life at the University of Kent in Canterbury.
e’ve had a week of sunshine here in Canterbury! I’ve been here since the 19th of September. I had been instructed to ‘Look for students wearing bright green shirts!’, and, sure enough, they were at Arrivals holding a banner saying ‘University of Kent’. These students spent the entire weekend at Gatwick Airport, rounding up international students. Canterbury is an hour’s coach ride away from the airport. I witnessed some mindboggling scenes on the M2. Among these was the diligent use of indicators by vehicles when switching lanes, which is not something one sees often in Malta. We were escorted to our respective colleges. My quarters are situated in the South Wing of Eliot College, a building which was initially designed as a prison. While outwardly rather hostile and intimidating, the interior felt safe and inviting. Hordes of students were moving in when I arrived; lugging their belongings to their rooms, getting acquainted with one another, and generally feeling happy to be at university. As soon as I’d deposited my suitcase in my spacious yet homely room, I set off to investigate the shared toilet facilities, and found them to be satisfactorily clean. While I was wondering down the corridor, a burly blonde youth asked whether I was the newbie and led me to his room, where some other students were already squashed inside getting acquainted with each other. Allow me to introduce my neighbours. Ed, a born-and-bred Essex boy, has just resigned from working as an undertaker’s assistant at his uncle’s funeral parlour. Twelve hours after his arrival at the residence, he had already adorned his room with approximately ten dozen empty cans of Fosters, and several crisps packets. Vesna and I are the only girls in this corridor. She is originally from Serbia, but has lived in Britain for fourteen years. Dylan, from Ohio, loves soccer (or ‘football’, as it is referred to on this side of the pond) and is quite the ladies’ man. Oddly enough, he also smokes a pipe and wears a beret. George is a massive rugby player, who spends most of his time out on the pitch, rolling around in the mud with other big, burly men. Pete is Nigerian. His parents left Nigeria many years ago in search of a better life. He was incredibly amused by my attempt at a Nigerian accent. As you can see, I’m already good friends with most of my neighbours. The day after my arrival, I ventured into the city of Canterbury, home to the usual suspects: Debenhams, Wagamama, Subway, Next, Tesco’s, and of course Canterbury
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Cathedral. The city is completely fortified, and all buses are obliged to pass through the West Gate. The bus system here is pristine. I politely asked a bib-wearing inspector for directions. He patiently explained to me all there is to know about the bus system here, and guided me to the bus I needed to take. The buses are always on time and are never more than ten minutes apart. The city is quaint, dotted with cottages, pubs, and plenty of vintage shops selling medieval clothing and miscellanea (shout out to a long haired friend of mine – you know who you are!). Here at the University of Kent, students are encouraged to join some of the hundreds of societies that exist on campus . There’s a particular extra curricular activity which stands out from the rest: pole dancing classes, which are one of the most popular activities among the students. Can you imagine the furore that would follow the setting up of a pole dancing society at the UoM? All hell would break lose. Here, students are allowed to go about their private lives in the safest possible way. During the evenings, there are policemen and guards located at every corner of the campus in order to keep the peace. The campus disco is exclusive to students of the University, and equipped with four bouncers. Everyone is bodysearched upon entry to ensure that they are unarmed and drug-free. I must confess that I’m feeling home sick. I didn’t expect to. I miss Kinnie, my cat, Pudding, and the greasy, over-priced pizza at University. I don’t, however, miss UoM lectures.
culture lisa azzopardi
home sweet home H
ave you ever found yourself behind a bus billowing black smoke while the driver munches on pastizzi ("cheesecakes") and has a loud chat with his friend, who is driving a bus in the opposite direction? I gawp in amused amazement. And what about the “Baby Think Twice” sticker, which has become a regular feature of Maltese buses? I’ve actually begun to look out for it as soon as I hop on.
I moan, criticise, have the occasional tantrum, and nitpick about anything I don’t like. Yet, when one of my Efl students dares to diminish the assets of this country, I lash out and defend my bigilla dip and pothole-ridden roads with my heart and soul. Yes, we have potholes. Yes, my car is a casualty of the unspeakable state of our roads. But you have no right to complain unless you have changed a car tyre three times in one week, and/or spent a few days in hospital because you injured yourself during an excruciatingly bumpy ride. No eye-rolling please!
My idea of decency jars completely with that of the tubs of lard I come across while strolling the streets of our city. These, hairy, caveman-esque creatures of a certain age, strutting their stuff and displaying an enormous stomach should be fined. And don’t give me the “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” line. Some things are just unacceptable.
These traits are what make us Maltese people, living on our crowded, and often mediocre, but beloved little island. It wouldn’t be the Malta I grew up in, and grew to love if my neighbour was well-behaved, if the bus-driver wasn’t the proud owner of artless graphics, if gold hoop earrings weren’t considered by some to be the epitome of class, if blue mascara didn’t fly off the shelves, if the divorce debate hadn’t been going on ad nauseum, if people weren’t taken to court for skinny dipping, if peroxide blonde wasn’t the “It” thing , if some people hadn’t bestowed upon their children names such as Shakira, Zander and Rihanna, and if I weren’t banned by the Censorship Board from watching Stitching.
To our mind we’re different. Certainly, we’re not that kind of Maltese person. Do me a favour and don’t drag geography into the fray. “Tas-South” is a cultural reference more than anything. Grab a map of the Harbour district. Valletta, Sliema and Cospicua are right opposite each other, yet the social make-up is undeniably different. And this is why I love this country: vastly differing stereotypes can be found within metres of each other. So many culture clashes. As a concrete mixer is illegally parked on a double-yellow line because the driver is in the mood for a greasy chicken pie, a freshly waxed, gas-guzzling beauty pulls over, and out comes a distinguished old lady sporting perfectly coiffed hair and manicured nails, and fishes for a credit card in her Hermès bag. Bashing Malta and ranting about its many flaws has become a national sport, particularly thanks to the use of online comments and blogs. This has led to many a “get me out of here” bouts of exasperation.
Take a look at the Mediterranean. Take a long, hard look, and you’ll find that Malta is doing much better than some of its Mediterranean counterparts. Our friends from abroad are facing austerity measures and 40% youth unemployement, while I whinge because I receive only eighty-three euros of stipend. X’għarukaża! (“What a shame!”), we exclaim., While in other countries youths take to the streets, many of Malta’s youths head off to university. You get my drift. The grass is always greener on the other side. Although this should not let us drift into a state of complacency. The next time you’re about to open your mouth to berate your country, “Baby Think Twice”, or indeed, “Tingk Twajss”.
Photography glorianne cassar
An opinion piece on cultural clashes in Malta, and being proud of our tiny Island in spite of its flaws.
The Insiter caught up with Moviment Indipendenti’s Mark Camilleri and Ksu President Carl Grech to hear their take on recent events.
tanding in the midst of the Quad-shaped ring, my metaphorical journalistic microphone drops as I assume the role of referee In the right corner, weighing in as the current elected student representatives led by the Maltese Christian Democrats, the heavyweight reigning champions: Ksu. In the far left corner, weighing in with vociferous opposition and a thirst for change, the challenging lightweights: Moviment Indipendenti. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the no holds barred title match. I want a good clean fight. But of course this is student politics not champions league boxing, and so that’s a little too much to hope for. Moviment Indipendenti contested last year’s elections as a loudly proclaimed protest. After failing to gain votes, however, they are determined this time to mount a largescale campaign. Their long term goals? To “change the whole direction of how this role is being used by the current incumbents”, claimed member Mark Camilleri during our interview. Such a bold statement is certainly startling, and warrants a closer look into which issues demand such drastic action. To the fore is Moviment Indipendenti’s perspective on policy-making. Adamantly, they maintain that the Social Policy Commission is not creating policies, and to add insult to injury, all the documents of the Social Policy Commission currently fall short of any concrete proposals. If this is truly so, then clearly there must have been a miscommunication issue somewhere, as Ksu President Carl Grech gave me a detailed breakdown of Ksu’s spending policy, deduced from the electoral programme published prior to the elections last March. Those of you who are fond of numbers are in for a treat. Mr Grech pointed out that Ksu has already budgeted €30,000 to be spent on: the Student Opportunity Fund (€15,000); the Resources fund (€10,000); and the Student Organisations Fund (€5,000). Ksu is also currently refurbishing the Common Room, with a budget of €11,000. In addition to this, each office within Students’ House was given a computer this year, amounting to a total cost of approximately €7,000. These numerous expenses may well constitute
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a response to objections about the commercialisation of Freshers’ Week. The student is a tricky creature: it will oppose you if you do not provide funds, and it will oppose you for the commercial endeavours required to gain sponsorship. As they say, it is impossible to please everybody. In my opinion, the student organisations had their opportunity to reach out during Freshers’ Week,. As a Fresher, I feel that if they had to brush shoulders with the commercial stands which enable funding for the week, then so be it. On the subject of Freshers’ Week, one cannot forget the hubbub associated with Ksu’s dealings with Gasan Enterprises Ltd., as the company director is the father of Ms Stephanie Soler, a member of the council. Such dealings cause one to question whether Moviment Indipendenti have a right to state that Ksu policies “are profit-orientated” rather than “student-orientated”, that “the Council works for itself and its friends of friends”, and even bring one to wonder whether their dramatic exclamation that “the Student Scheme smacks of nepotism” could hold water. Mr Grech staunchly denies such attacks, stressing that Ms Soler has no connection with the company herself, and that she has been omitted from all dealings with the Enterprise. Moreover, the potential conflict of interest was noted in the Ksu’s joint executive, as is required by both the Ksu Statute and the
SPECIAL REPORT Ksu Code of Ethics, and Mr Grech considers it is essential to point out that dealings with Gel began before Ms. Soler was a part of the council. Transparency’ is Moviment Indipendenti’s watchword in this hot debate. Mr Grech stresses that Ksu invests a substantial amount of time and money to ensure that all its books are in order, having the accounts approved by the auditor appointed by the Agm (Pkf). He maintains that a copy of the published accounts can be obtained from the Ksu office on request by any individual, and adds that the auditor has so far found no faults with the records presented. Mi directly counter this by quoting the report itself, which states: “Our audit was limited in scope as a result of certain inconsistencies in the preparation of accounting records and we were unable to fully satisfy ourselves by using other audit procedures”. It looks like we have a contradiction on our hands. Meanwhile, Mi repeatedly call for a detailed breakdown of the way money is spent for each event, yet Ksu’s current book-keeping process does not allow for this, as, according to them, it would be too expensive and cumbersome to maintain. The auditor’s report does, however, clearly show the organisation’s turnover for the year, the profit and loss accounts, and a comparison with previous years. The Ksu
President additionally vouched that the Ksu executive will be held fully responsible for the way it manages funds during the Agm. ‘Agm’ is another dicey term at this point in time, as it brings to mind Pulse’s decision to boycott elections after having their proposal to alter the voting system shot down during last year’s meeting. As a result, Sdm automatically won eight of the Council seats, as only Mi contested against them. Many incensed students complain that in a normal democratic system, obtaining for instance 8% of the votes would secure 8% of the seats. This system is not followed for Student Council Elections. Rather, Ksu elections are based on a first-past-the-post system, whereby each candidate runs for the post that he or she wishes to contest. There are no limitations as to the number of candidates who may run for a post, and subsequently the candidate who obtains the greatest number of votes for a post is elected. This ensures a transparent system, free of party votes, while still enabling candidates to run as a team and hence display a common set of goals for the upcoming year. This system should enable the recognition of individual goals and efforts rather than political leaning. Mr Grech defended the uncontested individuals who won their posts, saying that the lack of competition did not remove anything from their merit as veritable representatives of the students. Conversely, Mi urges students to use their votes wisely, and encourages Pulse to return to the field as a major player. In the words of Mr Camilleri, “the vote is the strongest weapon students have, and they should use it”. Who knows whether the student populace shall be swayed, and whether it shall be the members of Moviment Indipendenti who raise their fist in victory at the next Ksu elections? Or perhaps Sdm will once again reign as heavyweight champions. For now, one can only observe the exchange of punches and hope for their favourites to garner a knockout. As for me, I’ve always been more of a baseball fan anyway. Please send reactions to this feature, or any other articles in The Insiter, to email@example.com.
paris motor highlights show 2010
In this feature, brief overviews are given of the highlights of the Paris Motor Show 2010, which took place between 2 and 17 October.
t first glance, the Chevrolet Aveo appears to be a three-door car, since the rear handles are ‘hidden’. It is longer and wider than the old model. The interior is more spacious and has some attractive design features, such as a motorcycle-inspired instrument binnacle. Buyers have a choice of two petrol engines, 1.2-litre or 1.4-litre, and two versions of a 1.3-litre diesel engine are also available, with stop-start technology to improve economy The Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback has a coupe-like roofline and shorter rear overhang than the saloon on which it’s based, thus giving it a sportier profile. The engines and trims are the same as those of the saloon, but the hatchback will be launched with Euro-5 compliant engines. According to Citroën, the Citroën C4 has “exceptional quality, style, interior space and comfort”. It is slightly larger than its predecessor, and is manufactured only as a 5-door version. The diesel-electric hybrid version will emit just 109g/km of CO2 at launch, and 99g/km later on. Some of the new features available are massaging seats and a blindspot monitoring system. The Citroën Lacoste Concept is a four-seater with no doors and a retractable windscreen. The inflatable roof is stowed in the spine running along the middle of the car. Some of the more down-to-earth design features might reappear in a future small Citroën.
The world’s first supermini (B-segment) hybrid is the Honda Jazz Hybrid. It has a 1.3-litre engine, an average fuel economy figure of 64.2mpg (miles per gallon), and 104g/km of CO2 emissions. This car can run on electric power alone at low speeds. The visual cues make it stand out from normal Jazz models. The Kia Pop Concept is an electric city car concept with an intriguing seating arrangement: a bench for two people at the front and one seat at the back. The 18kWh lithiumion batteries and 50kW electric motor give the car a range of around 100 miles. Lotus introduced the Lotus City Car Concept, which is due in 2014, and the company is currently looking for a partner to produce this car, which will have a range-extending petrol engine, a rear-mounted electric motor powering the rear axle, and a range of up to 500km (311 miles). The Renault Twizy should offer scooter-like performance around town but with increased safety and protection. It seats two occupants. A lithium-ion battery powers a 20bhp (brake horsepower) electric motor. This car can reach a top speed of 47mph, and has a range of 60 miles. The battery takes 3.5 hours to charge fully.
The lithium-ion battery pack of the Renault Zoe Concept powers a 79bhp electric motor. This car has a 100-mile range. It can go from 0 to 62mph in 8.1 seconds, and has a top speed of 84mph. Full recharging of the battery takes between six and eight hours, while an 80% charge can be achieved in 37 minutes. The Renault Zoe should cost as much as a diesel Clio.
lt Twiz y
Zoe t l u a Ren ept Conc 44
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Hinting at a new look for future Renaults, the Renault DeZir Concept is powered by a 24kWh lithium-ion battery and has a 148bhp electric motor. It has a range of about 100 miles. To reduce weight, the body is made of Kevlar and has a tubular steel frame. The Smart Fortwo facelift is characterised by a white safety cell with matching grille and door mirror surrounds, optional Brabus-style day-time running lights, and the choice of three new 15-inch alloy wheels is now available. It includes a redesigned dashboard that can house a 16.5” colour monitor, optional USB and auxiliary ports, an interface for the iPod, and a surround sound system with eight 40-watt speakers. The revised engines provide for lower fuel consumption (57.7mpg) and lower emissions (97g/km of CO2). Described by Peugeot as a model that combines a city car, coupe and SUV in one vehicle, the Peugeot HR1 Concept is aimed at ‘active young city dwellers smitten with design and innovation’. The inside has a high-tech feel. The audio, satnav and air-conditioning are all controlled by a ‘movement recognition’ system, allowing the driver to scroll through the relevant menus by moving his hand, without touching anything. The sports-coupe body of the Seat IBE Concept contains four seats. This car has an electric motor with a maximum output of 101bhp. The speed can be raised from 0 to 62mph in 9.7 seconds, and the top speed is 100mph. Continuous power is limited to 67bhp, resulting to a range of 81 miles. A smartphone can be connected wirelessly to this car. Not only can you play music stored on your phone through the car’s speakers, but you can also check the car’s systems.
The front styling of the Mazda 2 facelift has been given Mazda’s new ‘family face’, including a new front grille and fog light surrounds. The interior has also been upgraded, and the chassis has been modified to boost ride comfort. All engines are now Euro-5 compliant, and a new automatic version has been introduced.
When it goes on sale, the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 will be the world’s first diesel full hybrid vehicle, with 74.4mpg, and just 99g/km of CO2 emissions. The diesel engine drives the front wheels, while the electric motor powers the rear wheels.
gently down the river Since the mid-20th century, canal boats or narrowboats have been the preferred way to explore Britain’s murky waterways and enjoy the scenery therefrom. Navigating one’s way through the canals is harder than it seems!
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t’s tea time. The sun is peeping out ever so slightly from behind a grey cloud while I sit on a bean-bag at the stern of a nineteen-metre long narrowboat. We’re cruising at a leisurely five miles per hour which allows one ample time to sit back and relax. Everyone here seems to be calmer than your regular Joe. The increased level of oxygen in the air might be the cause. I’m going to assume that you don’t know how a narrowboat works or even what it is. It’s a long and narrow barge that travels at a maximum of ten miles per hour, which means that it’s not fast at all. It is driven though man-made canals and can even make its way through rivers, such as the River Thames in London. One may eat, sleep, and carry out many other daily activities on this boat. It can serve as a mobile home, that takes you from the countryside to any town or city of your choice, provided a canal runs through it. Driving the boat through the canals requires a lot of concentration, not to mention patience. The journey though is not at all boring. You will encounter vast amounts of the tallest trees you could ever imagine as you navigate your way through the waterways, be it in a city or in the middle of a forest. On the banks, numerous wild rabbits frantically hop around, in and out of the bushes, and a variety of birds -
Sport ducks, swans and heron - will keep you entertained when the paths get tiresome. The tiller functions as a steering mechanism. It takes time to master but is rather simple to operate once you get the hang of it. In order to preserve water and create higher and lower levels of water, locks and gates have been added to the routes. This is where physical fitness comes into the picture. Muscle, together with a metal key that fits into all the locks, are the sole tools needed for this task. Once unlocked, the water must be drained or filled. At this point, water gushes into the lock or into the canal, depending on the direction in which you are heading. This is the most hands-on part of the experience, and can sometimes be rather demanding, especially when a staircase of, say, fifteen consecutive locks approaches. In preparation for this intense activity, a cup of tea should be traded in for a shot or two of coffee.
terms, parked on the side of the canal). At times like these, those on board can enjoy a board game in the tightly packed sitting room, with the stove running and the teapot close by. Other activities such as duck feeding or even duck taunting may be attempted if the rain persists for a long while. The experience would not be complete without a visit to a pub. What can I say about typical British pubs? Well, it’s a Marmite thing, in that you either love them or hate them. I happen to love them. After a day on the boat, we’re looking forward to a well-deserved dinner at a pub. Only a couple of locks need to be opened before we can dig in to our hearty grub.
The flexible driving hours are usually brought down to a minimum when the boaters’ worst enemy, the storm cloud, is spotted in the distance. As a storm approaches, activities are either brought to a complete stop or are slowed down considerably. Caution and alertness are imperative when rain is pelting down, Rain usually causes even the most eager boaters to remain moored up on the closest towpath (in layman’s