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Issue one -“The new digital magazine made by students for students”


Independent – Interactive – Innovative

YORK’S ‘SPECIAL K’ “I’ve met people across the country who heard of [my] campaign”

Alex Jackson catches up with YUSU President Kallum Taylor.

WINTER WONDERLAND York Sport President Charlotte Winter on her plans for 2012/13.

TO BE WON A year’s FREE Yorker membership. Find how inside.

Image Credit - University of York ©2012 John Houlihan /witness.co.uk johnhoulihan.com

Opening Remarks James Tompkinson – Magazine Editor Editor James Tompkinson

Deputy Editor Alex Jackson

Contributors Rachel Brown Farrah Kelly Katharine Wootton Hannah Allies Ross Parry Amy Davies Nick Wright

Design James Tompkinson Alex Jackson Hannah Allies Serena Rudge Ross Whiting

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to York students both new and old as we head into another university year.

This year sees the first students paying the increased £9000 tuition fees, a new Sports Centre at York along with a move for Langwith College from Hes West to Hes East – so you get the sense that 2012/13 will provide a new feel to life here at York. To all new students, the only advice I can give you is make the most of your time here. York is a fantastic place to study and socialise so make the most of every minute you spend here. Having said that, I sincerely hope that this year provides good times for everyone, especially those taking the time to read our new digital magazine! Throughout the following pages I hope you will find our fantastic interviews with YUSU President Kallum Taylor and York Sport President Charlotte Winter both interesting and insightful, whilst at the same time realising that you are becoming a part of a new wave of university media. Everything we do is online - we shop online, we socialise online, we even think online. But at the same time we don’t want to give up the pleasures of being able to flick through a magazine whenever we feel like it. I hope you will find that Y provides the perfect blend to satisfy magazine cravings whilst never leaving your computer. What’s more it’s all student related, so what could be better? Enjoy!

All about The Yorker The Yorker is a student-run company which provides campus and local news, comment and reviews, boasts thriving arts and lifestyle sections and brings you all the latest campus and professional sport.

Managing Director Martin Fison Editor Lucy Whitehouse

The company was conceived in 2006 by two students, journalist Daniel Ashby and computer scientist Nick Evans. Beginning as the pair's part-time project, The Yorker has blossomed into the University of York's largest student-run company.

Marketing Director Jason Rose

With no political or campus affiliations, The Yorker is the University of York’s only independent media outlet and this ensures our coverage comes with a unique character.

Technical Director Tom Keefe

The Yorker is also a private limited company so is self-sufficient and any profits made are donated to charity. The chosen charity for this year is The Samaritans.

The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One



Hannah Allies captures the beauty of York’s River Ouse

Think you have an eye for a great photo? Get in touch by emailing photos@theyorker.co.uk and send in your entries for our next issue. The best entry will appear in our ‘Snapshot’ section.

The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One


TAYLOR-MADE FOR YOU Alex Jackson talks all things YUSU with new president Kallum Taylor. You take up the job of president following a year as Vanbrugh College chair. Do you feel this experience stands you in good stead for your new role? Yes and no. We had a really good team in Vanbrugh back then, and a great year with it. As far as I can see, the Presidency’s much different. When running a JCRC it’s more about fighting your own corner. So long as the JCRC and college is progressing and your students are largely happy, anything else is a bonus. With YUSU, you really do have to look at everything from a bird’s eye perspective and a long term vision, as well as trying your best to be as ‘visible’ as you can be in the mind of the student on the ground. It’s strange seeing it as ‘work’ or a ‘job’ though, it’s just more ‘something I do every day’ and love doing. It’s a lifestyle you have to enjoy and respect otherwise it will ruin you.

What were some of your high and low points from the 12 months fighting Vanbrugh’s corner? Blimey. That whole year is just a split second in my mind! I’d say one big win was holding off the university’s enforcement of catered accommodation, when we were told we had no chance as soon as we were elected. The response from students in a campaign we literally fought from our keyboards over the Christmas holidays was huge.

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“It’s a lifestyle you have to enjoy and respect otherwise it will ruin you.”

You yourself have said that we “need a president the students can identify with.” Does this mean we can expect to see you around campus, listening to students as you did back in February? Yes definitely, as much as I can. I’ll be having my weekly ‘open surgeries’ on Hes East and West, and visiting halls and events too. It’s strange because it’s not really a ‘policy’ in terms of intellectual thought or political change, it’s more of a signing myself up to putting more hours and leg work than usual in. We’ll be really pushing our online communications arms in a much more constant and effective way as well.

Your campaign was certainly one of the most memorable and iconic, capitalising on the Special K logo. Was there a conscious decision to re-establish the same symbols used as part of your Vanbrugh chair campaign? Yeah pretty much! It was tricky thinking about going from one college to across two campus sites though, but it seemed to work quite well. It’s funny because I’ve met random people across the country who have heard of the campaign. Crazy. That said I had a lot of people who went above even above and beyond for me. It wouldn’t have worked without them.

Do you find that you worry about other people’s perception of you all the more? Do you feel increased pressure and expectations due to past experience and election promises? I do feel the pressure. If you didn’t, you’d be mincemeat. There are always people out there who are waiting for you to mess up, that’s life I guess. I just wish that some people would choose to get involved, and help shape a decision, rather than simply stand on the sidelines. You can’t please everyone, but if you can keep your head, and know that you’ve not made any decision on a whim and done what you could you include people in that process, things get easier.


There has been some six months between campaign season and the start of welcoming new freshers to the university: have any of your policies changed or developed in that time?

Well since starting the job in July I’ve done what I can to get the ball rolling in the areas I want to focus on. This has been somewhat staggered but quite productive - having been sent on various training courses on and off campus, some great and some purely just branches of the University of Common Sense. On value for money, our generally harder approach has seen positives, blocking the planned increase in printing costs. We felt the university should be planning to remove this as we move further to electronic submission of work. It is relatively small fry of course, but it’s a signal of our intent.

I’ve also won us, the student body, an extra 2 consultation sessions with the university on the recruitment of the new VC. The initial plan was for staff to have 5 and for us to have 1, which is way off in every area of consideration to be honest. Even if some students don’t appreciate the specifics of the role, they have the right to provide their thoughts and demand more ownership of the direction the University goes in now they’re paying more to be here. It’s hard to argue against that. If we’re more approachable, and we shout louder for students, we’ll increase our active support base, and our actual strength will be recognised. We’re only half way there at the minute, but this term we can really put the rocket boosters on.

“Branches of the University of Common Sense” Coinciding with this is how a lack of space for students on campus is sending and keeping nonfreshers off campus. Article 4, rent increases and a subtle hostility to our members is just not acceptable at all. I’ll be keeping the council close with us on this, and making sure that our Neighbourhood Reps offer a meaningful form of representation to students off campus. On visibility and transparency we will simply carry a general approach to putting more time into being seen and open to approach. Our live calendars are now available on the YUSU website, so you can see when we’re free and what we’re up to. I’m hoping to get a weekly ‘Message from the President’ set up as well. I’ll be visiting halls, events and such when campus gets busy again of course. In the meantime, our online operation is working a treat.

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“If we’re more approachable, and we shout louder for students, we’ll increase our active support base, and our actual strength will be recognised” Obviously, freshers is such an important time for the university and the union. How will you be encouraging people to become involved following your concerns that so few students knew they were part of the union? Well I know that myself and the other officers have made an added effort in saying hello to freshers already, putting ourselves out as people to turn to and ask questions whenever they need. This personal approach should help. If we can let people know who’s who and what’s what before they even get here then you’re not starting from point zero in October. It’s awful that there had to be a policy on this and we passed it to demand that officers ‘get out the office’ and attend college/sports/society run events as and when is feasible to do so.

How are you relaxing over the summer when not prepping for another manic and amazing year at York? I visited home last week which was nice. York can be a bit of a fishbowl after 3 years and I’ve barely gotten away, for ‘good’ things anyway! That being said, I did have to keep an eye on my emails and all of our online Freshers’ communications with results day falling during that week. It’s good fun though, as I say, it doesn’t feel like work yet.

Our ‘Freshers Talks’ won’t be like they have been in the past too. I think a generally more gutsy approach to the university, done in the right way, will naturally increase awareness. YUSU needs some teeth this year. We can all work wonders behind the scenes, and of course that is the primary thing, but if students can say who their Sports President is, or their Welfare Officer is, then that has a value and benefit that can’t quite be measured.

“YUSU needs some teeth this year” www.theyorker.co.uk

How will union presence be continuing this momentum throughout the year? Basically, it’s about working as if you could be voted out the very next day. The energy we put into elections needs to remain constant. I think nailing Freshers’ Week is vital. I think we’ll do that. After then we’ll be promoting our activities, assemblies and events in a more media savvy way. We need to move from talking about ‘YUSU things’ to just issues in general, and just being relevant really.

After that we’ve got the usual calendar events which we hope to make bigger for the 50th and just keeping that drive. We can’t rest easy this year. Not with £9k. People will get tired of me mentioning it, but that’s tough.

“We can’t rest easy this year. Not with 9k. People will get tired of me mentioning it, but that’s tough” As students, you all have a massive, massive opportunity to shape this University now. Higher fees, the 50th birthday, a new Vice Chancellor; it’s as if all of the planets have neatly lined up for us to make our mark! We’ll do our best to help all of our students do this with us.

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One of your key policies that will interest final year students and forward thinking freshers alike is your aim to increase the employability of York students. What changes and new advantages can students expect from career services, links with companies and placement opportunities over the coming months? Employability is something key to all students regardless of location, especially now. So we’ll be doing our best to assist that and hammer that message home harder to the university. We’ve started off by creating very good ties with the careers service to help them market their events – they do put together some sound events for our students, but getting them advertised is where it’s fallen flat previously. We’ll also be taking careers events to the colleges, making them more ‘in your face’. YUSU and JCRC’s hold the best link to the ‘grassroots’ I feel, so where we can get the good stuff from our university out, we will.

“Employability is something key to all students regardless of location, especially now.” Improving value for students whilst they’re at York featured heavily in your campaign. How are those ideas shaping up? This one’s an interesting one, and covers all aspects of the student experience here across all costs services. From launching our campaign for off-campus students’ provisions on campus and offering them a university which really does care about them, and removes inconveniences where it can.

What can students expect event wise for Freshers Week/Fortnight? Give us details, spoilers, secrets and teases? Are there going to be any special events never done before? I know the college JCRC’s are really, really on it this year, across the board. There’s no-one lagging it seems, so students shouldn’t be missing out wherever they choose. As for YUSU’s events, just expect something a bit different. If I gave you any secrets, they wouldn’t be secrets!

“I’m really hoping our ‘big one’ can prove that we can really smash campus events. Fingers crossed!” You raised the issue of improving events as one of your election policies. What drawbacks have there been in trying to ensure that the new year starts with a true big bang, unlike freshers of the past? It is a concern of mine and students, yes. But I’ve had no problems as of yet! I’m really hoping our ‘big one’ can prove that we can really smash campus events. Fingers crossed! I am absolutely buzzing for it though.


This is an important year to celebrate all York University has achieved as the establishment turns 50. What ideas are currently being discussed for this event and should students be proposing their own ideas to the student’s union? By all means, students can give me any idea they have! I’ve already said this and will continue to do so. Sometimes the best ideas can come from the least ‘involved’, so literally just send me an email!

What are your recommendations for incoming students to see and do in York (and Yorkshire)?

Quick fire...

Don’t take the city for granted! It’s truly unique, and there are loads of job opportunities too, should you want or need one.


I had one out of necessity, but found it a great way to make some sound local mates, and I now play for Fulford FC on Saturday afternoons. If you’re interested in more hands on, community-based work too, then there are loads of chances to get involved with the volunteering projects that YUSU run.

“Browns sandwich shop in Heslington is a treat too. I’m not on commission either”

Favourite band: Guns n Roses Favourite film: Shawshank Favourite food: Steak, chips

and a bit of veg on the sly with some peppercorn sauce over the top.

Favourite biscuit: Hobnobs.

Biscuit for dipping, etc etc. Is there even an etc?! Who knows?

Favourite cheesy song on a Willow night out: Once we had ‘Tell me ma’ by the Dubliners. Absolute tune.

Most embarrassing moment at York: Too many to tell,

some are probably too raw for this too! A constant however, which I never get used to, is making a howler in goal for Vanbrugh College Football. Roughly how much of first year spent with a hangover: Too much, and not enough. How you spent your first night as a York fresher: In drag.

“Students can give me any idea they have!” Currently though, we’ve been working very closely with the Alumni Office and the University Events team on plans for the 50th, and are looking to crosspromote each of our events and activities whilst working together on one or two big community projects. Nothing is set in stone yet – but from our end we’re looking to go very big come summer 2013 on this, whilst making nods to the anniversary beforehand on an as and when basis, with Roses, for example. Looking at the plans so far, I’m confident all areas of our achievements and capabilities will be marked and utilised.

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VBar or Courtyard? Now that’s just not fair! Courtyard for a mid-day swifty – at least its been done up in recent history – but V-Bar all the way for an evening session before town. Elsewhere though, do try out some of the ‘toursity’ things whilst you’re here like the Minster, the City Walls and museums – even just try and put aside time to sit by the river with a cold drink and a bite to eat. I think you’ll fall in love with our university, and the city even more so. They call it the ‘graveyard of ambition’ apparently because nobody wants to leave!

Tokyo or Willow? Tokyo. Indie or Dubstep? Indie. Cook or eat out? Eat out… Though the tide’s turning on that one! No food or Efes? Efes. All the way. Football or Rugby? Football… The bullies frightened me away from rugby back in high school!

Brown’s sandwich shop in Heslington is a treat too. I’m not on commission either.


THESE CITY STREETS Farrah Kelly helps you find your feet around the streets of York So, welcome to your new city. We know trying to discover all the best offerings of a new place can be a bit of a pain, so the Lifestyle team have been really generous and are giving you a helping hand in your path to unearthing York’s most interesting spots.

then known as “Swingate”, with neighbouring Grape Lane being known as “Grope” lane (charming). Now home to more respectable joints, you’ll find student musts Vudu Lounge and 1331 here.

“It can be quite difficult knowing your Coppergates from your Colliergates”

York is full of gates. No, not kissing ones. It’s a fancy way of saying street, basically, and it can be quite difficult knowing your Coppergates from your Colliergates. We’ve handpicked the most interesting ones you need to know about!

Swinegate Swinegate has an unusual history; originally a lane where pigs were kept, it later developed a slightly seedier nature when it became home to brothels and prostitutes-

Short street, long name. The plaque that lives on this street tells us it means “”What a street!” and is probably the only street name to be considered this quirky & adorable anywhere. The “Whip” element comes from the days of public humiliation as punishment- stocks were erected here so petty criminals could receive a good old fashioned flogging.


Jubbergate It may sound like something from a Lewis Carroll poem, but it’s not in Wonderland, it’s just off Parliament Square. Home to York’s main market, pick up fresh flowers, fix your phone, and browse local artists’ work.


Hungate Here you’ll find York’s largest and most ambitious excavation site. DIG is literally unearthing York’s astonishingly long history, and although the guided tours have stopped there’s still plenty to be marvelled at over at the exhibition that’ll be hanging around all year.

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No guide to York’s best streets would be complete without heralding the famous Shambles. This cobbled lane has pretty much the coolest namedropping potential out of all York’s streets, having been mentioned in the Doomsday Book in 1086. It’s usually full of tourists because it’s plain gorgeous. Make sure you check out the incredible chocolatiers and head down for a romantic stroll at night.


A city that comes alive at night Rachel Brown tells us how to have a good night out in York CLUB





Newly refurbished, Kuda is a huge venue which looks like it’s going to be amazing. Apart from the large main room, there is a tiki room and a private mambo lounge.



Wednesdays at Mansion (aka Ziggys) are where the sports socials take place. The rooms may be a bit sweaty but Wednesdays are always fun there.



Tokyo has three rooms of music (chart, indie, R’n’B and hip hop) as well as an outside terrace. Thursdays are good nights and the venue is close to the popular bars on Micklegate.



Revolution is a classier night with a free bottle of bubbly on the Rich & Famous Sunday nights, the new Cuban bar and an outside terrace by the river.

Where can I pre-drink? The popular trebles bars are Nags Head and Rumours, which are situated along Micklegate. The cheap drinks deals prove popular with students. Reflex is also a popular choice. The cheesy venue plays all of the old classics (Spice Girls, Madonna, you get the idea), has a revolving dance floor and features a bucking bull. What’s not to love?

“York is great for cocktail bars” If you’re going to Vodka Revolution or Kuda, The Lowther is a good place to go beforehand. The student-friendly pub has great drinks deals. What about cocktails? York is great for cocktail bars – it’s full of them! Evil Eye is known as the best place in the city. Although a bit pricey, you have to go at least once.

Other great bars include Blue Fly, Dusk, 1331 and Bora Bora. Slug and Lettuce also have a 2-4-1 on cocktails every day and we have two of these in the city. Go for cocktails on Friday and Saturday as students don’t tend to go clubbing these days.

big comedy acts performing like Jon Richardson and Micky Flanagan.

Any live music venues?

What is Willow?

York has two small live music venues in the city; Fibbers and The Duchess which also have club nights. Fibbers has indie and rock ’n’ roll nights on Friday and Saturday nights. In addition to this, a new bigger venue has recently opened in York.

Willow used to be a Chinese restaurant which has turned into a nightclub (sort of). Think school disco with cheap shots and free prawn crackers.

Not only has York Barbican had big bands such as Bombay Bicycle Club, McFly and Noah and the Whale play, it has many big comedy acts performing like Jon Richardson and Micky Flanagan.

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“Think school disco with cheap shots and free prawn crackers”

Willow is a favourite with students with an “it’s-so-bad-it’sgood” vibe, and is definitely a place to go at the end of a night out. Beware of the Willow stamps as they are notorious to remove – you may think it’s funny to get a stamp on your forehead but it won’t be as funny the next day before your 10.15 seminar.


THE STINGY STUDENTS’ GUIDE TO YORK Had enough nights out for one week? Katharine Wootton tells you how to make the most of York during the day for free. In the shadows of York’s towering historical buildings, cemented together by years of affluence and power, it can be easy to feel that York is not a city suited to the impoverished Fresher. Typically outcast to the outskirts of the city in Heslington, York Freshers can at times feel like an outsider to the world within the city walls, where highclass retailers and pricey tourist attractions line the streets, seemingly open only to York’s wealthy residents and army of loaded tourists.

However, with just a little bit of research and a sprinkling of imagination- it is in fact easy to find a thrifty way to enjoy the York experience and spend a funpacked day bonding with your new flatmates. So grab your Kodak, pack your mac and have a try of some of these top stingy suggestions: As a city crammed with hidden treasures in unusual spots, York is a city best explored for free on foot. Walk the Hull Road route from campus and you can pass by the historically intriguing St Joseph’s Convent and The Retreat, or peruse

the quirkily nostalgic shopping gems of Walmgate. Take a detour through Fulford and you can follow the meandering River Ouse to town or stroll the quiet rolling meadows behind the army barracks. Once in York city centre, the best way to discover some of the most curious and exciting offerings of the city is to get a York Card. Issued to anyone at any City of York library for just £2, the York Card allows you to delve into the mysterious histories of York’s past at the Yorkshire Museum, scare yourself half witless in the York Dungeons and muse over some cracking creativity in York Art Gallery- all without spending a penny.

“Try a tour of some of York’s best street performers” Alternatively, if you’d prefer to escape the tourist hotpots, why not try a tour of some of York’s best street performers? King’s Square in particular is always bustling with talented musicians, jugglers and escapologists just waiting to make you smile for free. Or if it’s your stomach that leads the way in a good day out, why not make the most of York’s regular farmer’s and international food markets where free samples of yummy cheeses, sweet treats and exotic delicacies enticingly await?

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On the other hand, if you need a bit of imaginative stimulation, a great solution might be to create your own free tour guide, losing yourself in York’s Dickens-esque backstreets and snickleways, making up horror stories as you go.

“Watch York’s spectacular sunsets” Or you could retrace the footsteps of our city using Wikipedia as your tour guide to the intriguing names of York’s oldest streets (Whip-Ma-WhopMa-Gate is a firm favourite). You could also become a crazy old cat lady or gent for the day by taking the York Cat Hunt peering out for the maze of cat statuettes stalking hidden corners and scaling the out-of reach rafters of the city. And after all that freebie frivolity, you can round off your day with a filling picnic in some of York’s most beautiful outdoor spaces armed with food from home, Poundland’s finest or the very reasonably priced treats from many of York’s street vendors. In the buzzing Museum Gardens or the intimate and picturesque Rowntree Park, it’s great to snuggle up warm, scoff your sarnies and watch York’s spectacular sunsets and dazzling star skies, smug with your lovely stingy day out. www.theyorker.co.uk

The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One


YORK LIFE As students prepare for a new academic year, our photographers have been out around York and on campus to provide a little taste of what university life in this city is all about.

James College

Photos taken by Hannah Allies, Emily Jasmin Decoussemaeker and Lauren Tabbron The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One


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The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One


Difference of Opinion

“Religion is no longer In the first round of Difference of Opinion, Ross Parry and Amy

By Ross Parry


In writing this article, I must first separate personal beliefs and the interests of modern society. I do this because all too often proreligious arguments resort to hurtful and untrue allegations that the opposing voice is anti-religion at a personal level. This is rarely true and is unarguably not the case here. Personal beliefs can range from a favourite colour to a political leaning. The most important thing about them lies in their title: they are personal. That I like marmite and somebody else doesn’t shouldn’t affect either of our lives. Religious beliefs come under this banner. Societal interests are as far from personal they could be. Again, it’s in its name: societal. They concern the collective wants of an entire population, no matter the size. And on the whole, there are crossovers for all societies in terms of what they want, and societal religion, by its very nature, tries to stunt freedom. By allowing personal beliefs to interfere with the more complex and important requirements of society, religion permeates into the lives of those who don’t believe and forces them to follow. For example, a recent ‘amendment’ to the Women’s Health and Safety act in the state of Arizona defies science, logic and fact by legally deeming a woman pregnant two weeks before conception. The anti-abortion undertones of religion are all too apparent here, and it becomes even more obvious when one finds that Jan Brewer, the governor who passed the change, is indeed Christian. The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One

This comes shortly after Christian representative of Missouri’s Todd Akin made a public comment that women who are ‘legitimately raped’ are unlikely to become pregnant. Todd gave this as an answer when asked if women who fall pregnant after a sexual assault should be given the option of abortion.

“Societal religion, by its very nature, tries to stunt freedom” Of the 6.5 million population of Arizona, how many will agree with the beliefs of Mrs Brewer? How many women who disagree will be forced into giving birth by this law? These are only two examples. One country, one topic, one religion. On the other side of the world, women get stoned to death for adultery in the name of Islam. One more (but not the only) example, country, topic and religion. Religion is personal, and ought to be practiced by believers in their own lives. Believe what you will, be proud of what you believe, even tell the world: but the second religion factors into inhibiting the freedom of others, it becomes grotesquely wrong. For this reason, religion is not relevant to modern society any more than a person’s choice of breakfast cereal.


relevant to society” Davies discuss the big questions & and their impact on society.

By Amy Davies


Views on religion have been dramatically changing worldwide in the last few years. For example, if we go back half a century, most schools in Britain taught Religious views with vigour, but since then, science has come to the forefront of education, putting religious studies on the sideline. As a result, people are beginning to believe religion is no longer relevant in today’s society. Despite the rapid decline in the number of people going to Church in the UK, 1 million of us still go to Church on a Sunday in the Church of England alone. This means that the British people are not about to give up their religion just yet. According to the 2011 Census, 32% of us class ourselves to be 'religious'. That means over 17 million people in Britain believe in God or some sort of spiritualism.

“Undoubtedly, Christian tradition has made its mark in British society” The next question to address is what does 'Religion in society' really mean? Thousands of people every year still get married in Churches or get their children baptised, despite not being religious believers themselves. Furthermore, most holidays we celebrate in Britain are related to Christian celebrations. Undoubtedly, Christian tradition has made its mark in British society. Even the foundations of our law system can be traced back to those all-important 10 commandments from the Old Testament. Whether we like to admit it or not, a lot of traditions do stem from religious tradition. The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One

However, I do not believe that this makes our society 'Religious', I think the heart of the answer lies behind what most of us do not see. For religious people, their places of worship are considered communities within their society. They are bound together by one belief, which is so strong, and can affect a person’s life so much, that they become almost an extended family. The Bible teaches forgiveness, love and kindness to others. This is what all Churches strive to do. With this in mind, it is no surprise that Christians give more of their time doing charity and volunteering work than anyone else in the UK. Whether it be visiting their local nursing home, or helping children with learning difficulties, this kindness reaches out to the entire society, all inspired by the word of God. Religion is also relevant in Universities, with Christian Unions showing the impact religion is having on the lives of young people in our society. Religion is still moving a generation; you just have to look a little closer to see just how much. At some point in our lives, whether we believe in God or not, you will need help and you do not know why, and praying to God may help. This is because our society still needs that little bit of hope to push it along. Religion is still relevant in today’s society, and it is providing comfort, help, and most importantly hope to millions of people worldwide and societies ought to be proud of that. www.theyorker.co.uk

INTERVIEW: Michael Tansini chats to Xanthe Gresham.

Hello from Yorker Arts! The arts section at The Yorker is one of the largest and most comprehensive arts section at the University of York. Write features, reviews or opinion!

Xanthe Gresham is a storyteller, but that doesn’t capture the breadth of her performance. Reciting tales from the Zoroastrian Shahnameh, the Book of Kings, written by the famous Iranian poet Ferdowsi Tusi 1000 years ago, she’s one of the key members of the York Centre for Oral Narrative. I talked to her about her forthcoming performance from the Shahnameh at York Theatre Royal in October

Meet our team: Arts Editors: Catherine Munn and Michael Tansini arts@theyorker.co.uk Deputy Arts: Jacob Martin deputy_arts@theyorker. co.uk

Tell us a bit about your work and how you started.

Music: Alex Jackson and Alex Pollard music@theyorker.co.uk

My name’s Xanthe Gresham and I’ve been performing for about 18 years. I received funding from the British Museum to tell Shahnameh and I’ve been performing it in theatres, libraries and museums across the world ever since.

TV: Maddie Boden and Jacob Martin tv@theyorker.co.uk

How hard is it to bring your own take on this ancient mythology to a modern audience?

Film: Steve Puddicombe film@theyorker.co.uk Performing Arts: Gabrielle James and Katharine Wootton performing_arts@theyor ker.co.uk Games: Tom Keefe games@theyorker.co.uk Art and Literature: Kate Bull culture@theyorker.co.uk Original Work: James Metcalf creativity@theyorker.co. uk

It's a lot easier to when I started. Recently a very good translation of the Shahnameh was published by Dick Davis; there were no versions in print when I started, so I had to research at the British Library. This particular show is very passionate in an epic style. As a storyteller you filter the images from the original text into your performance. I’ve rendered the text into an iambic verse form, and it’s helped by Iranian musical accompaniment that features traditional instruments.

Would you say then that this is a more experimental piece? No it’s a very classical piece; these stories have been handed down a thousand years and they’re full of emotion, war, love, adultery, betrayal, the big themes which are repeated in every culture. However, normally in Iranian tradition it is men who tell the stories, not women – although there are remarkable exceptions, women reciting a war epic is unusual. Performances can be big and fiery – performed to hundreds in the desert – or recited in the quieter atmosphere of the tea house. The language revivifies a bardic tradition not seen in Britain for a long time.

The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One


You mentioned that the stories have links with other cultures. Could you elaborate a bit on this? You could say that at the heart, all the stories have very simple, repeatable truths. I suppose there’s a moral there - that we are all one. We live in a cosmopolitan society with a wealth of riches, yet we need to hear these stories again and again, simply told, from one human being to another Have you edited the stories in any way? Mainly, the stories remain pure although I refrain from saying anything that I personally disagree with, especially concerning women and war. I consider stories to be very powerful and influential so I try to be responsible - sometimes I’ve stopped the story at a position I consider favourable. Could you describe to us briefly one of your stories? In one of the stories there is a young girl married to an older king, who falls in love with the king’s son, Siyawush, who refuses her offer of an affair, so she accuses him of rape. To prove his innocence Siyawush rides through fire. It’s that image – which is so strong in all the illuminated manuscripts - of his martyrdom, riding through the fire and appearing unsinged and unsmirched that I unpack and unfold for the audience. Has there been a resurgence in oral story telling since you started? You wouldn’t believe it. It’s simply not quantifiable. There’s dedicated centres now opening – including the York Centre for Oral Narrative. There’s still some way for it to be considered in the same way as poetry is considered an art form, but with oral storytelling you can make the performance as poetic as you like. That’s what all the best artists do – open up mythology and re-create their own version of the stories.

Xanthe Gresham performs at York Theatre Royal on the 18th October


Tolstoy's classic novel about Imperial Russia has been wonderfully re-imagined by Stoppard in this Moulin Rouge meets Parade's End-style drama. The acting was generally good, but what I was most excited about was the concept; Stoppard and director Wright have captured a theatrical masterpiece on film. What is so special and unique about this film is the fact that all scenes that take place in Imperial Russia are filmed in a theatre space, which is completely transformed into a train station, a race course, a ballroom. The flies above the stage are as believable as the streets of St Petersburg, even though there is nothing but actors to communicate the setting and you can see all the rigging in the background Scene changes are beautifully choreographed and filmed to create a seamless transition from one location to another. Tolstoy's novel is classified as of the realist style, yet this overly theatrical and contrived interpretation works beautifully, highlighting the high drama and intensity of Imperial Russia's aristocratic circles and thus has created a really unique and innovative approach to film. I am not a film expert, but I was thoroughly enraptured by Anna Karenina. As a film, I found it beautiful and incredibly original and I was captivated for the whole two hours. The Hollywood names are great, but certainly aren't the focal point. If you like art or theatre then go and see this film. Gabrielle James.

The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One


Are We in Music Lethargy? Alex Jackson investigates… Another One Direction track is about to hit the charts and break records, earn the boys millions of pounds and go down as one of the biggest selling singles of the year. If you’re not one of the hundreds of thousands of fans that have contributed to their £20million + profit margin this year, I salute you. Seriously. That has to be some will power on your part. Or a lack of alcohol.

Apparently it’s something to do with beating. I’d like to take this song and beat the producers around the head with it. Throwing every musical trick in the box into such a tiny packet is not simply infuriating: it’s non-sensical. So ridiculous is the situation that in some bid to break boundaries, Olly Murs is teaming up with Flo Rida on his new album and Leona Lewis is releasing dubstep material. Those are some phrases that should never appear in the same sentence. In short, the very contentious situation that gave birth to the rise of what has been dubbed by many the new boring in 2011: Adele, Ed Sheeran, Florence and the Machine. Acts that under any other circumstances may not have flourished in such a dramatic manner ruled the charts in a united resurgence against the mundane dance tracks of the era.

One Direction live. Image Credit: Jasmine Mueller. Or maybe you’re just sensible, because ‘Live While We’re Young’ was no sooner premiered than comparisons with ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ by The Clash stormed the Twittersphere. Angry comparisons. But, I’m not too surprised. In fact, I’m rather underwhelmed, especially since the opening to their debut track ‘What Makes You beautiful’ sounded like a certain number from musical Grease (cue angry girl fans hunting me down on Twitter). However, this hubbub of debate surrounding topical artists like One Direction, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and company is not what bothers me. Instead, it’s that music output seems to have lost all energy and originality. This template of recycle, reuse, sample, throw auto tune and techno beats at it method is just exhausted and tiring to hear. With the likes of Wiley topping the charts, and David Guetta continually re-releasing the same song with different lyrics, and Pitbull drooling over every musical collaboration like some annoyingly oversized Labrador, I hold out for innovation. Perhaps I’m over-exaggerating. But the extent of the stilted music charts hit new low notes with the release of ‘Bom Bom’. Vapid lyrics coupled with the most head-splitting combo of synths, 80s electronica, and random repetitive brass chords really leaves a question mark hanging over the music industry. “I like your style of womping” sings the lead: but what on earth is womping anyway? Apparently it’s something to do with beating. I’d like to take this song and beat the producers around the head with it. Throwing every musical trick in the box into such a tiny packet is not simply infuriating: it’s non-sensical.

The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One

Adele live. Image Credit: Christopher Macsurak. In the run up to Christmas, we are starting to see major releases that tease us with the prospects of breaking this norm. We had The Killers’ Battle Born that just proved a mediocre rehash of their third and uninspired album; Mumford and Sons sophomore LP read like a continuation of their first effort; Riri proffers her seventh album in seven years; and a multitude of other artists such as Calvin Harris, Ellie Goulding and Robbie Williams are all on the slate for the last quarter. Yet, I’m certain that all these albums will end up in my collection before the turkey’s been defrosted on Christmas morning. Well, not you Robbie. And I’ll play them on repeat until next Yuletide. Shamelessly. Part of the problem is that the lethargy has spread beyond music producers. The modern music chart is a redefining of ‘easy listening’: you turn on Radio One, Capital FM, or whichever station takes your fancy, and you are instantly lost to an oversensual, pulsating experience, where this plethora of dance beats and cheesy pop hooks appears reasonable, and you’ve just got to download that track for your iPod when you get home. And even though I’m moaning, I’m really susceptible to falling into this mainstream void of empty, repetitive music. As for One Direction, I somehow managed to download ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ when drunk last year. As yet, I haven’t removed it from my library.


Music Reviews – The XX and Two Door Cinema Club

Review: The XX

The darlings of remix artists the world over and every couple’s favourite band, The XX have returned with the eagerly anticipated Coexist. Reassuringly, at first glance it doesn’t look like they’ve strayed far from what made their first album so great, and Coexist looks set to be one of the big releases this year. Tracks like ‘Angels’ and ‘Chained’, the two singles from the album, don’t seem to stray too far from the style of the debut, with the former especially sticking to very sparse backing and simple, poetic lyrics. It’s not until the fifth song in, ‘Reunion’, that something new begins to show. With tastefully done steel pans, the track initially sounds like a bit of a holiday comedown, and then suddenly turns into a slightly more beat-driven song for The XX. That’s not to say that it’s a dance track – more that it could lend itself to movement, or a good dance remix. What is especially pleasing is the quality of sound on the album – tracks are not packed with lyrics or cluttered with effects, but rather given subtle depth that provide something new on each listen. Overall the album is incredibly pleasing – it brings in enough evolution of their sound to keep it from sounding like their debut all over again, but still ties in their essential sound and stays true to that. There is plenty here to interest old and new fans alike, and at just over half an hour long, there is almost no excuse not to at least try a listen. Laura Beyers.

Two Door Cinema Club’s first album, Tourist History, was one of the standout hits of 2010, featuring on everything up to shampoo advertisements. Would Beacon match its predecessor’s swagger and inventiveness or would it fail to light up? Finishing Beacon, the overall sense is of evolution, not revolution. Tourist History had many songs that were simple, punchy and moved as if they had drunk a pint of coffee. The opening song of Beacon, ‘Next Year’ starts with a burst of electrical static and takes its time for a familiar chorus to open up. While these are all elements we have heard before, the texture of the songs has become far more substantial and layered. It’s an impressive maturation of talent that had been promised previously. However, Two Door Cinema Club have a very obvious recipe for the songs, the ever-faithful soft-loud-soft, the 4-4-2 of song-writing. Some of the songs noticeably the hummable but otherwise unexceptional ‘Wake Up’ - do feel like filler. While there are plenty of songs that will go down well on the festival circuit and undoubtedly will have an additional edge to the performed live, it’s hard not to think they ran out of ideas midway through.

Review: Two Door Cinema Club

If you were a fan of the previous album there is still much to commend, but if you were yet to be convinced, Beacon will not go far enough to persuade you. Michael Tansini.

The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One


The Yorker meets...

CHARLOTTE WINTER James Tompkinson has a chat with the new York Sport President JT: How does it feel to finally be in charge of York Sport? CW: It feels fantastic to finally take up the post. With the election results in March there’s a lot of time before you take up the role and a lot of expectation, but so far it’s been great and the rest of the Sabb team are brilliant to work with.

JT: What aspects of the job are you looking forward to the most? CW: I want to see York break into the top 40 in BUCS and will be working closely with clubs to make this happen. This year we have a pre-season camp the week before Fresher’s Week which all clubs can attend – something which I really value because the York term begins so late! We’re also looking at setting up a focus sport program to help achieve the target.

JT: What can new students expect from their York Sport President? CW: I really want create more diverse opportunities for people to get involved with sport. I think it’s important to expand college sport, volunteering and one day tournaments – so expect new things there!

JT: How will it feel going from student to Sabb? CW: I’m hoping it won’t be too difficult! Being on the York Sport Committee last year really helped me understand the workings of both the committee and the President. I certainly won’t be sad about not having to attend lectures anymore!

The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One


JT: What are your plans for college sport? CW: I’ll be working closely with our new College Sport Officers – Amy Ballard and Meg Phillips – to implement the ideas they have. I’d like to see more college and Barbarians teams competing in Varsity and Roses to get more students involved in bigger tournaments.

JT: What can we expect from Roses and Varsity this year? CW: Varsity will be away this year and I know that Hull has some big plans for it. As for Roses, the aim is to make it the biggest there has ever been and to get as many people involved as possible. We’re looking at setting up alumni games over the weekend as a way to get the old boys and girls back to York in a special year. Above all, we need to bring the Carter James Trophy back to its rightful home in Yorkshire!

Quick Questions... JT: You were elected with an overwhelming majority – does that bring pressure?

Favourite drink... A good cup of tea Favourite song... Status Quo, Rocking all Over the World Favourite biscuit... Jammy Dodgers

CW: I think there is always going to be pressure in a job like this no matter how big or small the majority, but I think that is a good thing. If you know there is pressure then it makes you more determined to do the job well.

Favourite nightclub... Ziggy’s obviously! But I do have a soft spot for Revs. Favourite sport... Football - I’m a huge Milwall fan. Favourite team... York Lacrosse Club Worst uni moment... Breaking my foot at Roses 2012 and not being able to play in the lacrosse game. Celebrity you’ve always fancied... Just putting this out there, but James Corden is a babe!

The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One


AN ODE TO COLLEGE SPORT Nick Wright promotes the merits of getting involved with college sport

You will probably be sick to death of hearing about the college system at York, and will no doubt not need me to remind you of the benefits of the system that are reiterated to every potential new student. But there is a reason that the college system is a major selling point at York, and that is in the sphere of sport, where its benefits ring especially true. No better medium than the college system exists anywhere for intra-institution sporting contest. It makes organisation of fixtures and matches easy and allows for a vast range of sports due to the ability to draw on hundreds of participants, ensuring that there is always a healthy fixture list each year. Contrast that with the situation at the majority of other universities, where to participate in competitive sport you must place your trust in intra-mural leagues between subjects and halls of residence forced to live in hope that a team exists for your sport as the potential for efficient organisation does not exist. Consequently, this can mean that your best hope for competitive sport outside the BUCS leagues is a 5 a side kickabout with some friends at the local field, instead of enjoyable, yet competitive matches against people from a range of subject disciplines and ages.

The variety of people playing college sport also adds another important dimension - the ability to make friends. College sport is a fantastic way of making new friends and acquaintances, and one of the easiest ways to meet others from various courses and year groups due to the inclusive, yet tribal nature of the college system. It allows camaraderie to flourish between those who may not have the time available to commit to university sport on a regular basis, providing a perfect avenue for those who cannot commit to several training sessions and matches a week, but who still want to participate in a team environment to enjoy all the benefits it undoubtedly brings.

Moreover, whether you are an experienced performer or a complete beginner, you will likely find college competition intense and challenging. In my single year so far of playing college rugby I have met both novices and national champions, and it has been an edifying experience to play against such a mixture of abilities. No matter what sport you play, and no matter what your ability, there is no way that you will feel out of place in the college sphere. Of course, a lot of what I have written may seem rather contrived, but I can assure you that getting involved in college sport is well worth your time. It allows all abilities, age groups and sexes to mix in a unique way that you will be hard pressed to find at any other university.

College athletics in full flow

Indeed, college sport is all about participation, and the wide range of sports to choose from means that there will certainly be something to satisfy your taste. Sports such as football, netball and badminton are played all year round, while there are numerous one-off tournaments in sports such as darts.

The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One

If you have never played sport before, there is no better time or greater atmosphere to start in, and if you are an experienced athlete, you could not hope for a more enjoyable environment. Make sure that if you do nothing else during your time at York, you take advantage of one of its best aspects.


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The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One


The Y – Autumn 2012 – Issue One


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