18th September 2012
Photo: George Voronov
Department to Trinity: reinstate workers or face “consequences”
T Rónán Burtenshaw Editor
Refusal to implement Labour Court ruling brings pressure on College he Department of Education has told College to “immediately implement” a labour court recommendation from last April to reinstate workers who had been made compulsorily redundant, in breach of the Croke Park agreement. This request, which the department says has been conveyed directly to College authorities, follows a significant escalation of the dispute over the summer. In a statement to Trinity News, the department said that it viewed the recommendation as “both final and binding”. “This is the unequivocal position of the Department [of Education], the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the National Implementation Body [for the Croke Park agreement],” the statement continued; “… at all times it has been made clear to TCD that a rejection of the Labour Court’s Recommendation by the University is a breach of the Croke Park Agreement.” The statement concluded by saying that “consequences for TCD in refusing to implement the Labour Court’s Recommendation are under serious consideration by the Department at present.” In response, Trinity said that it entered into the labour court process “in good faith”, but believes that the recommendation is “not binding”. “TCD is unable to implement the recommendation on reinstatement due to the precedent it would set and the risk of ensu-
“Mission to Mars” - Stephen Keane on Curiosity
ing unsustainable costs.” The case from April relates to three College workers, two lecturers and one library worker, who were on contracts of indefinite duration (CIDs). Their contracts were supported by what College calls “non-core” funding, or funding not derived from the Higher Education Authority’s grant. The lecturers’ union, the Irish Federation of University Teachers (Ifut), argued successfully that permanent contracts could not be made conditional on external funding and that compulsory redundancies for these workers were not permitted under the Croke Park agreement. Ifut have responded to the latest development in the story by saying that College was inviting “an historic intervention” into its business by the Department of Education, which would have a “massive impact on its institutional autonomy”. “Up to now the state has been reluctant to impose fines or withhold funding from colleges, but TCD has now thrown down the gauntlet,” the Ifut general secretary, Mike Jennings, told Trinity News. “If they continue on this reckless path a precedent may be established that cannot be undone. This is of great concern to our members.” Ifut’s branch in Trinity College, Dublin, known as the Trinity College Academic Staff Association, had an emergency meeting on Thursday at which it unanimously adopted a reso-
lution to withhold co-operation from any measures of the Croke Park agreement. These measures would include constituent work practices, academic workload models, engagement with the performance management and development system, and the full economic cost system (a technical accountancy agreement). In addition, the meeting condemned the ejection of three elected members from a meeting of College’s Board on Wednesday evening. According to Ifut, these members were singled out because they were officials with the union. Mr Jennings said that they were not allowed to read statements giving their opinions on the matter and accused the board of acting “ultra vires” (beyond their powers) in an “unprecedented” manner. Trinity News has also learned that, over the summer, four further staff members have become involved in disputes related to CIDs and compulsory redundancy. In the cases of two staff members, one being a long-standing researcher and the other a lecturer, redundancies have been implemented. In the case of the other two, a senior administrator and a lecturer, compulsory redundancy orders are seen as imminent. These cases are understood to be similar in nature to the three previously heard by the labour court. Further, according to Ifut, Col-
“What the hell do you expect from me - you waste of space?”
Trinity is inviting an historic intervention onto itself... and a precedent which cannot be undone. IFUT General Secretary Mike Jennings
lege has rejected four separate invitations to attend the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) pursuant to these redundancy cases. Trinity News attempted to independently verify this through communication with the LRC, but the body has a policy of not commenting on individual cases. A source in College has revealed to Trinity News that Ifut has distributed three separate emails to all staff members since April relating to the dispute. The communications make clear that strike action is not being considered at this point because of potential impact on uninvolved parties such as students. Trinity’s long-standing position in the case has been that any decision which forces them to reinstate the staff would be untenable given the college’s present financial position, forcing it to replace external funding which is no longer available from within its current budget. However, the labour court’s decision from April referenced section 1.6 of the Croke Park agreement, in which the government “gives a commitment that compulsory redundancy will not apply within the Public Service.” It recommended that College “manage any issues arising [from their reinstatement] through the flexibility, redeployment and retraining provisions set out in the Agreement” or through “voluntary redundancy”.
“Stronger together”: USI President makes case against disaﬃliation
LOOKING BACK ON A YEAR OF METRONOMY
THE MAN THAT’S SHAKING UP THE DUBLIN BAR SCENE ...
>> Baby Blue: Sarah Burns interviews Dubs young gun Danny Sutcliffe
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
What They Said Fresher’s Facebook Page
“ “ “ “ “ Are we expected to turn up at college every day for freshers week at like 9am? or do you only have to adhere to your orientation timetable?
For having a correctly placed plural possessive apostrophe I give this event two thumbs up
These people are trying to make a fool of you, nothing happens in Freshers’ week. It’s just a week to mentally and physically prepare yourself for the year ahead by researching course material and getting plenty of sleep.
Dónal Ó Cinnéide
Trinners for winners. I’ll never come last in my life again.
Jerry Gierasim Buhna
Referendum campaign managers announced Leahy and O’Meara to lead diaffiliation teams Catherine Healy Student Affairs Correspondent
Students Mark O’Meara and Jack Leahy have been named as the two campaign managers for the USI disaffiliation referendum which is to take place the week of 1 September. Leading the Yes and No sides respectively, both are expected to launch their campaigns on 23 September. The referendum comes in the wake of months of public criticism of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) by notable figures in College, such as last year’s president of the Students’ Union, Ryan Bartlett, and last year’s president of the Graduate Students’ Union, Mary O’Connor. Disaffection with the USI, particularly under the tenure of its last president, Gary Redmond, has largely been attributed to its perceived failure to represent the Trinity student body. Protest tactics against fee increases, such as the attempted occupation by several of its officers of two government buildings, and its delaying of a formal stance with regards to third-level funding shortly after Trinity’s own “preferendum” on the matter were amongst the instances cited as being indicative of its disconnect with the College’s views. Leading the campaign in favour of disaffiliation will be Mark O’Meara, branch sec-
Campaign manager for the No side, Jack Leahy told Trinity News that the crux of his campaign will centre on the idea that “it is better to be in than out.” He has met with the officer board of the USI about the campaign and strongly believes that it is College’s only viable representative in dealing with both the government and the Higher Education Authority. While every student in this college is “realistically a little disillusioned with the USI”, he maintains that the problem has been the union’s leadership, particularly in the past year. He also points to what he expects to be a change of direction in the USI’s tactics. Citing recent controversy over spending by the president of Waterford Institute of Technology, he said the USI will be making “… a reactive effort to delve into college finances and point out areas where there is massive waste.” He continued, “There is almost certainly not going to be a march ... The tactic they’re fleshing out this year involves a strategic policy group who’ll be looking into a funding plan for the next five years.”. He envisages this plan as leading to “a platform to declare that students won’t pay a cent more.” Leahy, who is to step aside from his role as news editor of the
There is almost certainly not going to be a march ... The tactic they’re fleshing out this year involves a strategic policy group who’ll be looking into a funding plan for the next five years. retary of Trinity Young Fine Gael (YFG). Speaking to Trinity News, he said that he and others met with Ryan Bartlett last year to discuss their concerns with the USI, before coming to the conclusion as a group that the union’s failings were simply “too many”. The USI, he said, are completely removed in their decision making from the views of students. “There needs to be a clear benefit for us to give €8 to them instead of our union,” he added. Arguing that an independent TCDSU would better represent Trinity than USI, he said, “Trinity is in a unique position compared to other universities. We have the pulling power, the media power.” O’Meara denies the notion that ideology will play a part in the campaign and says his own views on third-level funding are irrelevant. “Regardless of your views on fees, everyone should be disappointed with the USI and what they’ve done, and what they’ve failed to do,” he said. When asked how Trinity’s views differ from those held by the USI, he went on to say, “There is the policy of fees, but also their tactics, the occupations.” YFG, he claims, will have no official stance on the campaign buta number of its members will be active on the pro-disaffiliation side.
University Times for the duration of the campaign, wrote an opinion piece for the same paper last year supporting the current student contribution as it stands. As well as being on the committees of a number of societies in College, Leahy is the SU’s finances and services officer. Both sides have been given €500 by the SU for the purposes of the campaign. Its sabbatical officers will have no involvement in campaigning for either side, despite the views expressed by current president, Rory Dunne, and communications officer, Owen Bennett, at a public debate on the issue held shortly before last year’s sabbatical election. Speaking to the audience after the debate, Dunne called on the national students’ union to “get back at the negotiation table, rather than the floor of government buildings” and dismissed the argument that disaffiliation would reduce the College’s negotiation power as “scaremongering”. Bennett, who is also the editor of University Times, claimed that the majority of TCD students are “implicitly against [the USI]’s fees stance”. Voting is to take place from Monday to Thursday next week.
Hist pull Victor Orban invite “Hungarian Putin” falls foul of committee Ruarí Casey Deputy News Editor Trinity News has learned that the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, received an invitation to address the College Historical Society from the society’s auditor, John Engle, over the summer. The invitation, which would have seen the controversial right-wing politician accept the Hist’s gold medal for outstanding contribution to public discourse, was extended without the approval of the Hist’s committee and was later withdrawn under pressure from the committee. The honour has previously been awarded to the head of the Tibetian government-in-exile, Lobsang
Sangay, the former South African president Frederik Willem de Klerk, Sir Bob Geldof, Noam Chomsky and the former British prime minister John Major. Orbán, who is currently halfway through his second term in office, has been a polarizing figure within the Hungary and has been a source of controversy within the EU. Having come to prominence in the late years of the communist occupation, his anti-Soviet sentiment led him to take leadership of the Fidesz party in 1991, which soon became Hungary’s dominant centre-right party. Entering a coalition government in 1998, he soon set about centralising control within the Hungarian government. Despite protests from the opposition, plenary sessions of the na-
tional assembly were reduced to being held once every three weeks, and only a ruling by the constitutional court prevented the government from reducing the threshold for a ruling majority vote from two-thirds to a simple majority. After spending 2002-2010 in opposition, Fidesz regained power with Orbán returning as prime minister, beginning a second term no less controversial than the first. Negotiations with the IMF have been the prime economic concern since late 2011, but intrusions on democratic freedoms have dominated public discourse. A new media watchdog was established in 2010, with its chief appointed by the prime minister and 9-year tenures for its mem-
bers (who can only be removed by parliamentary supermajority vote). This has been roundly condemned by international figures like the European commission vice-president Neelie Kroes, who announced in the European parliament, “When [media freedoms] are threatened within the EU’s own borders – as they have been in Hungary – we should indeed protect and defend them.” Hungary’s new constitution came into effect on 1st January. It has been largely condemned as cementing Orbán’s power and removing necessary checks and balances from Hungary’s political structure. The former US ambassador to Hungary Mark Palmer recently went as far as to say, “Hungary's ejection from the European Union
is now no longer unthinkable.” Most recently, the leader of the opposition, the Hungarian Socialist party’s Attila Mesterházy, has called for Orbán to resign over the transfer of convicted murderer Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani army officer who killed an Armenian officer at a Nato meeting in Budapest. The handover of Safarov, who was immediately pardoned and honoured on his repatriation, is alleged to have been the result of a monetary transfer between Hungary and Azerbaijan. Asked about the invitation, Engle confirmed that it had been withdrawn under pressure from the Hist’s committee but declined to comment further.
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
News Ireland fares well in OECD report Large numbers ﬁnishing secondary school, making the step to college. Catherine Healy Student Affairs Correspondent A new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has urged governments to continue investing in training and education for young people. In particular, Education at a Glance 2012 advocates maintaining reasonable costs for higher education in order to boost economic stability and employment opportunities while reducing inequality. The report states that the worldwide economic recession has led to a decrease in expenditure on education in 19 out of its 32 individual member nations, a trend it indicates may result in lower educational attainment levels in those countries. Furthermore, it finds that the gap between well-educated and poorly-educated citizens has widened as a result of the global financial crisis. Despite higher educational achievements by women across all OECD countries, it also reports that the employment rate of women continues to lag far behind that of men at all levels of education. Out of 34 countries, Ireland is ranked relatively favourably in many of the report’s indicators. It is the third most successful member nation in terms of third-level access for young people with poorly-educated parents. Despite the significant fall in national GDP in 2008, its total expenditure on education was still slightly above the
OECD average of 6.2% of GDP in 2009. Excluding spending on second-level education, however, it was below average for primary and third-level in terms of GDP per capita. Nearly 90% in Ireland complete secondary school, while almost half of all 25- to 34- year olds in the state have achieved a thirdlevel qualification. These figures are both about 10% above OECD averages. The report also found that Irish graduates can expect to earn up to €190,000 more over the course of their careers than those without a higher-level degree. This earnings premium as a result of degree completion is again greater than in most other OECD countries, reflecting Ireland’s shift towards a higher skilled economy as a result of the economic downturn. One well-documented trend across the Eurozone is the rising number of ‘Neets’, young people between 15 and 29 not in education, training or employment. In this category, the report indicates that Ireland is the fifth worst in the OECD , with just above 20% of young Irish people classed as ‘Neets’. The report was published as Irish universities discovered their latest drop in the QS World University Ranking tables. Provost Prendergast said Trinity’s results were “directly impacted” by “cuts in funding and increased investments made by [Trinity’s] global competition”.
Eamon Gilmore at the launch of the Trinity College Dublin Global Relations strategy. Photo: Dargan Crowley-Long
Gilmore launches Global Relations Strategy Táinaiste speaks as ambitious campaign to attract international students kicks oﬀ.
T Dargan Crowley-Long Deputy Editor
he tánaiste and minister for foreign affairs and trade, Eamon Gilmore, launched the Trinity College, Dublin global relations strategy on 10th September, which aims to strengthen Trinity’s international reputation for research, teaching and innovation. A press release from College listed five ways through which the strategy will be implemented: an increase in the intake of international students, doubling the number of non-EU students admitted to the college; enhancement of students’ educational experience, by fixing an international atmosphere into the education culture of the college; further developing the relationship the college has with other leading educational institutions; building alumni networks; and, finally, increasing philanthropic income.
Gilmore was accompanied by the provost, Patrick Prendergast, and the vice-provost for global relations, Prof Jane Ohlmeyer, at the launch of the new initiative which took place at the Long Room Hub. Prendergast remarked that this strategy marked no radicallynew direction for College, but rather a “radical ambition”. This ambition would be to build on the “cosmopolitan atmosphere” already established in the college, while also fortifying our network alumni abroad, who number close to 90,000 across 130 different countries. The provost concluded his speech by stating that it was a “good week for progress”. Gilmore spoke of Trinity building an educational brand from its “historical strength” of internationalism. He emphasised the relationship between Trin-
ity’s global relations strategy and the government’s own international education strategy, which aims to raise €1.2bn by the year 2015. He commended Trinity for its major long-term investment in the economic future of the nation by being at the forefront of this national initiative. Ohlmeyer commented on the crisis within which third-level institutions in the western world find themselves. “We are in the eye of a perfect storm that is being shaped by two global trends,” she stated. “The first is the demise of universities in the west; there is hardly an educational institution in the western world that is not facing some sort of crisis. The second global trend is the rise of Asia and the demand there is, especially in India, China, Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia, for world class education.”
Born out of these two trends, according to Ohlmeyer, is an opportunity for Irish universities to provide first-class education. Like the provost and the minister before her, she underlined College’s commitment to building upon its traditional strengths of cultural diversity. The strategy, as outlined at the launch, aims to facilitate the outward mobility of both students and staff within the college. All three speakers outlined the importance that this strategy places on strategic partnerships and research collaborations with other institutions all over the world. Collaborations with world-class universities, such as the University of Chicago, Brown University and Columbia University in North America, the National University of Singapore, Peking University and Tsinghua University in China and IIT Delhi, the
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Indian Institute of Science in India, give students the opportunity to study at Trinity and create a multicultural environment that equips all students with the intercultural expertise demanded in a global economy. These collaborations are fundamental to the success of the global strategy agreement. The initiative was launched in anticipation of the European Association for International Education’s conference on the internationalisation of higher education, held at the Dublin Convention Centre from 11th14th September. The conference, Europe’s largest in the field, had over 4,300 delegates in attendance.
Quebec tuition fee to be reversed New government accedes to student campaign of hundreds of thousands.
Sally Rooney Contributor
The election of a new minority government to Quebec’s parliament on 4th September has been welcomed by student organisations within the region. The previous Liberal-led government faced widespread protest and large-scale student strikes this year in response to their proposed 75% increase in college tuition fees. The party now leading the minority government, the Parti Québécois (PQ), have pledged to reverse the increase. The initial policy proposal to increase fees by $327 (€256.81) a year for five years was met with resistance from Quebec’s students, and in December 2011 led to the formation of Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicalé étudiante (Classe), a coalition student group threatening general strike action. Protests began on 13th February of this year when social science students in Que-
bec’s Université Laval made the decision to strike. The movement then gained the backing of the other student union federations, the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ) and the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ), and by March thousands of students had joined the strike. On 18th May this year, Quebec’s Liberal-party government passed bill 78, an emergency law restricting protest and, in particular, the ability to demonstrate on or near university grounds. In response to the move, between 400,000 and 500,000 people marched in downtown Montreal on 22nd May. With popular support for the government’s position on fees falling, the Liberals failed to come to a compromise with student groups, despite offering a more gradual seven-year plan for the fee increases.
The 4th September election represents the Liberals’ lowest percentage of the popular vote since 1878, with the party picking up only 31.2%, and after losing his own seat former premier Jean Charest announced on 5th September that he would step down as party leader. PQ is now leading a minority government, as their return of 54 seats fell short of the 63 needed to make up a majority in the 125-seat parliament. FEUQ and FECQ have declared the election “a victory for all Quebec students,” while their counterparts in Classe welcome the election results “with prudence,” emphasising in their statement issued on 6th September that there are “still several outstanding questions”. On 5th September 5th, PQ’s leader, Pauline Marois, enacted a temporary tuition freeze preventing further increases to college fees. In response, on 7th
Student Unions have labelled the result a victory.
September, FEUQ and FECQ formally called off the student strike. Though they are opponents of the Liberals’ tuition hike policy, the Parti Québécois platform favours indexing tuition to inflation, allowing it to increase year-on-year. Marois, Quebec’s first female premier, has reiterated her commitment to an “education summit” after which the need for tuition-fee reform will be considered. Parti Québécois are a separatist party promoting sovereignty for the Quebec region. During Marois’s victory speech following the election on 4th September, one person was killed and another injured by an unidentified gunman claiming to represent Quebec’s Anglophone population. Police have been unable to establish whether Marois was the intended target of the attack.
EDITORIAL STAFF Editor
Printed at The Irish Times print facility, City West Business Campus, 4000 Kingswood Rd, Dublin 24. Trinity News is partially funded by a grant from DUPublications Committee. This publication claims no special rights or privileges. Serious complaints should be addressed to: The Editor, Trinity News, 6 Trinity College, Dublin 2. Appeals may be directed to the Press Council of Ireland. Trinity News is a member of the Press Council of Ireland and supports the Office of the Press Ombudsman. This scheme, in addition to defending the freedom of the press, offers readers a quick, fair andw free method of dealing with complaints that they may have in relation to articles that appear on our pages. To contact the Office of the Press Ombudsman go to www.pressombudsman.ie
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
Careers Week October 2012: Get ahead of the crowd! Brought to you by the Careers Advisory Service with the support of the Students' Union, and sponsored by Deloitte, Careers Week is running during week two of Michaelmas term, from Monday 1st to Friday 5th October. The week will offer an impressive selection of “Industry Insight” talks from graduates and employers in areas such as
journalism, development and aid work, marketing, translation, financial, IT and scientific areas. In previous years, many speakers have spoken individually to students after their session and indeed have given contact details for further support. The “Employer Skills Day” will feature a series of employerled workshops covering CVs,
application forms, interviews, assessment centres and how to leverage social media in your job search. For students interested in postgraduate study in Ireland and abroad, the “Postgraduate Study Day” will cover entry into medicine, accountancy and teaching professions and postgraduate research. Careers Week is targeted mainly at sophisters and postgradu-
ate students but has attracted students from all years in the past. Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to find out about possible careers, postgraduate study, upcoming closing dates, job searching skills and meet with potential employers! The full programme of career sector talks and skills workshops is as follows:
Infographic: Éna Brennan Wednesday 10th October sees the turn for larger employers at the gradireland Graduate Careers Fair, taking place in the RDS from 11am to 5pm. This will include over 120 graduate recruiters, course providers and professional bodies
from Ireland and the UK. The event is organised by Trinity’s Careers Advisory Service and other Dublin colleges in partnership with GTI Ireland. The full listing of the companies is available at http://gradireland. com/events/52468, and it is ad-
Student Loan Fraud Risk for Freshers
Reuben Smyth Contributor
Freshman students are being warned that the information they give out on Facebook could be used to access private banking details in phishing frauds, according to a report by the BBC. The investigation quotes a survey of over one thousand students recently conducted by the Student Loans Company (SLC), which showed that young people often invite people whom they do not know to be Facebook friends and a large majority reveal personal details online. According to fraud protection and detection man-
ager at the SLC, Heather Laing, “Freshers often manage their finances for the first time by themselves when they start university.” This is a particular concern because of the lax attitude many have to internet security. In response, she said, "[the SLC] monitors student loan phishing very closely and close phishing sites down as soon as students alert us to them, to protect other students.” The company’s survey revealed that nearly threequarters of UK university applicants would comfortably reveal their date of birth and relationship status, while forty per cent
would give out their email address. Students, it says, are more likely to run afoul of fraudsters at key payment junctures in September, January and April. They attempted to access the bank accounts of a total of 1,600 people in British universities last year. The specialist investigations unit at the SLC says it saved around £2million of student funds from being fraudulently diverted in the last year, with men being at higher risk than women due to their tendency to make their Facebook accounts public.
vised to register on the website early to avoid the inevitable queues. This is a unique opportunity for students to meet with potential employers in a relaxed and informal atmosphere, to ask questions and to really gain some important
knowledge of what to expect when you graduate. Hope to see you at one or more of the events!
>> “You have run out of relatively painless feathers to pluck, Minister”Manus Lenihan takes on Ruarí Quinn Comment -p.12
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
Barnor Hesse, leading voice in African-American studies, talks to TN. RaceocracyInterview
He turned to two friends of mine who are in a relationship and asked, “How long have you been together?” As one of them finished answering, Kyle followed up with, “Did you have sex on the first or the second date?” Never meet your heroes.
Applauding Jeremy Kyle Our man in the USA sees a live recording of the new Jeremy Kyle show, and askes what might happen if we stopped watching.
B Max Sullivan InDepth Editor
eing in the audience for the American version of the Jeremy Kyle Show is a lot like you would expect: exciting, surreal, and morally dubious. If you’re not familiar with it, or need reminding, each show is comprised of segments which begin with Jeremy Kyle introducing a guest. This person is generally portrayed as the victim, at least initially, of a partner or relative. Think mums sick and tired of their drug-addicted sons, or men unsure of the fidelity of their partner. Kyle drives the audience towards sympathy for the arrival of the first guest. The guest is seated and given assurances by Kyle that they will find out the truth, which, it is presumed, will pave the way to a normal life. Once Kyle has helped the first guest to recite a
history of reprehensible actions committed by their antagonist, Kyle says, “Let’s bring them on.” Expectedly, conflict ensues. What’s unexpected is off-camera Kyle. He was impatient throughout the shooting, in a hurry to make it in time for an interview on Australian radio. “Maybe I’ll start with how shit they’re doing in the Olympics,” he laughs. He’s certainly still playing to an audience. However, the curse-free, common sense judgements which are his brand of moral superiority give way to a crude vocabulary of one-liners. My group of friends and I, all Irish, were immediately targeted by Kyle within seconds of his dolledup figure strutting on stage to warm up the crowd. “Oirish?” he asked our group, slipping
into a painful brogue which he would assume again whenever addressing us. “Here for work?” he queried. I wanted to say “No” to see if he would retort with “Get a job!” but I knew that this was a different Jeremy Kyle. He turned to two friends of mine who are in a relationship and asked, “How long have you been together?” As one of them finished answering, Kyle followed up with, “Did you have sex on the first or the second date?” Never meet your heroes. Jeremy Kyle USA is a lot like its English iteration, which has been airing on ITV since 2005. The show has been called “human bear-baiting” by a Manchester judge who prosecuted one of Kyle’s guests for headbutting another guest. The set and logo of the original is
marked by steely greys, whites and blues: tones which are presumably designed to reinforce the sense that this is a kind of centre for rehabilitation, equipped with dubious “aftercare” and notoriously unreliable polygraph (“lie detector”) tests. The American set is located in the ground floor of a shabby building near some dive bars in midtown Manhattan. When compared with the English show’s aesthetic, this stage is warmer, more homely. Faux brickwork, a printed Manhattan skyline (of which the building does and could not command a view) and orange hues give the impression that this will be a more light-hearted show. But Kyle and his guests use the stage and its chairs only as a physical and emotional slingshot into the real drama. As in England, it’s off to stage left and right for the good stuff. The former is a room designed much like the set itself, but without seating, while the latter is a rough-and-ready corridor with exposed bits of timber. Both were surely designed with their different dramatic capabilities in mind. The more finishedlooking backstage is just the half-way mark in the drama. When we’re backstage, where the producers weren’t even prepared for us to see (they were), then we know Jeremy is helping people. We know, if it wasn’t obvious from all the therapeutic shouting, that the truth is coming out. Kyle seems to have reinvented himself and his signature moves, too. More often than not, he refrains from performing one old fan favourite, called “sitting on the step”. This is where Kyle hunkers down on his knees to deliver judgement upon the lowest of low-lifes who appear on his show back in merry old England. Since the Americans who appear on the show seem to have a tougher time remaining seated than their British counterparts, it makes it harder for Jeremy to condescend from his hunkers. Infamously disdainful phrases like “you don’t deserve her” and “get off my stage” are supplanted by a more deliberately quaint and British way of interjecting: “’Ello,” he says, popping his head between the faces of his warring guests, before posing some more incendiary questions. However, Kyle also insists upon the depth of his experience; “I’ve been doing this a long time” was a popular refrain. “You Americans think I’m new, you see, but I’ve been doing this for seven years.” And he has. Kyle’s leading questions can sound a lot like stage prompts, urging the action on when necessary. The cameramen are always ready at the right moments with long cables to follow guests off-stage. Each segment, or “story” as the stage managers refer to them, is choreographed precisely. That’s not to say that the guests and their stories are entirely fabricated, but it seems like they’ve been aggravated and coached. Writing in the Guardian in 2011, Zoe Williams spoke to a number of Britons who had appeared on the show, for better or worse (mostly for worse). When Chris Lyons and his mother, Andi, came up to London for the show they were put up in a hotel the night before filming. Andi remembers, “When we got there, they kept calling both of us. Chris was up until two or three in the morning, talking to them.” Zoe Williams wrote of Chris and Andi, and almost everyone she spoke to, that the Kyle show “keep[s] the families technically together, but functionally apart, with a researcher assigned to each, seemingly, with the brief of winding them up”. We watch it for entertainment, knowing it’s kind of terrible, and knowing that this kind of thing probably goes on behind the scenes. Until I went to the show, I did not feel like I had much to do with it. Everyone who watches it does, though. After all, “Jezza” needs a studio audience to gasp in horror at his summaries of his guests’ misdemeanours, or to laugh with him when he makes fun of their appearance. In one segment, Jeremy targets an African American called Maurice for using the N-word in a tirade against another guest. “This is something I’ve been meaning to say to you people.” (It’s hard not to interpret Kyle as meaning “you black people”.) “Why do you use that abhorrent word? Where I come from, you don’t call a person that word, no matter what their skin colour.” Kyle’s stage manager gives us his signal for applause, and bizarrely, we do. That grants him the authority to rip his guests up like a wellprimed dog tearing up a scary looking, but ultimately help-
less, bear. Jeremy effaces personal difference: “I don’t care what she did; the point is you weren’t being her mum, you weren’t around!” He pushes aside technological fads, claiming ignorance, in favour of immemorial formulations: “I don’t know how these social media sites work – but, as I understand it, he sent some kind of message to other women saying he’d like to have sex with them!” In true conservative fashion – you could call it Jeremy’s home brewed, outdated criminology – Kyle attributes blame solely to the individuals involved. There are no mitigating circumstances. In fact, Kyle’s job is to erase all circumstances as much as is possible, in favour of familiar and contemptible headlines like “he slept with your best mate” or “you’re a thief and a thug”. “What if one year everyone just stopped watching?” Gale Hawthorne asks Katniss Everdeen. They’re not talking about The Jeremy Kyle Show; they are two characters in a recent film adaptation of a popular novel. The Hunger Games is a story about a violent physical battle between young people from underprivileged areas in an oppressive state. The competition is broadcast for the entertainment of the ruling class, and is produced by an executive in alliance with the state’s ruler. Sound familiar? Kyle’s benefitscrounger sentiments are an echo of the British government’s rhetoric. David Cameron said in June that benefits for jobseekers had gone awry, and offered invented anecdotes where hard-working British people glance over the garden gate at their benefit-scrouging neighbours to realise that they’re being robbed: “She’d [an imagined receptionist] love to get her own place with a friend – but with high rents in her area, the petrol to get to work and all the bills, she just can’t afford it. So she’s living at home with her mum and dad and is saving up desperately to move out. Then there’s another woman living down the street. She’s only 19 years old and doesn’t have a job but is already living in a house with her friends. How? Because when she left college and went down to the job centre to sign on for jobseeker’s allowance, she found out that if she moved out of her parents’ place, she was automatically entitled to housing benefit … so that’s exactly what she did.” Kyle treats the political underclass with a less refined kind of condescension, but the same Tory accusations are made about unplanned pregnancies (“Be a man and keep it in your pants!”) and unemployment (“Get a job!”). In one particularly offensive clip from the English series, Kyle hammers home his hatred for the welfare state: “Mr Brown [Gordon Brown, the then prime minister], you might be watching this, cause I think this is symptomatic with what’s wrong with this damn country.” Jeremy was referring to an unemployed, alcoholic teenage boy with a history of alcoholism in his family and a young child. “You’re sponging on taxpayers’ money … People like you should be put out on the street.” The child gets defensive at Jeremy’s every accusation, naturally enough, so Kyle continues to chide him: “I am going to do everything in my power to ensure that you do not get the money that you sit and spend on booze, because people like you do not deserve a penny … What the hell do you expect me to do, you waste of space?” Jeremy is shouting by the end of this tirade and the applause from the audience is rapturous. He gestures toward the audience saying “They agree.” The live studio audience is the modern equivalent of the Greek chorus, a group of actors who at many times serve as a model for how the rest of the audience is to respond. A “boo” here, a “hiss” there. Just like the chorus, we speak with one unified voice, because post-production editing can (literally) manufacture our consent. Kyle’s show preys on the disenfranchised victims of an inadequate education system and high levels of unemployment, among other things. Just as the guests’ stories are Dickensian in their injustices, so too is the form of judgement dished out by the host. No mitigating factors, no prevailing social circumstances, no parental abandonment or death can divert Kyle from taking his guests down a peg. Everyone is held to the same middle class expectations, everyone fails to meet them, and the lucky ones are condescendingly offered “aftercare” which, we all must know when we watch at home, doesn’t really materialise. But what if this year we all just stopped watching?
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
With print media in decline, Saphora Smith talks to those trying to make living in the dying industry Good on Paper
>> p. 8
Google and the End of Privacy Max Sullivan discovers how modern technology turns a second hand book into a time capsule.
I Max Sullivan InDepth Editor
took the short trip over to a small second-hand bookshop called Alabaster near New York’s Union Square a few weeks ago. In the rows of bargain books outside the shop’s front windows, I found an old copy of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations. Nuzzled up to spine between pages 368 and 369 was a loose piece of paper. It was a very crisp, thin and delicate sheet – a personal letter – written on a typewriter. Turning back to the flyleaf of the book, I found a name – the same woman to whom the letter was sent – and an address in the wealthy Greenwich Village area. I had a number of clues. I had no murder plot to unravel, and the only person potentially dead was the book owner, who otherwise must have been a woman in her nineties. A man working in the bookshop noted that apartments are often emptied and a life’s worth of reading material is handed over to the shop when the tenants die. Cross-referencing what I could decipher from the owner’s own signature, scrawled on the flyleaf, and the letter addressed to her from her father, I came up with my best guess of her name: Roxanne Darduer. So far, my detection was pretty lousy, because when I had typed that name into Google it only yielded obscure French sites. But when I paired the bad name with the legible address, Google thankfully corrected my mistake, and led me to the correct name. Let’s call her Suzanne Plummer. This woman yielded very concrete results. In the letter, Suzanne’s father had mentioned that he was expecting a photo of his daughter to appear in a magazine. All Google needed was Suzanne’s real name and the term “magazine” to find exactly what her father had been talking about: a picture of Suzanne, from behind, dressed as a mermaid, being held at the edge of a lake by a man in a suit. Life magazine was a popular American publication which has been revamped numerous times under various guises. In 2008, Google partnered with Life and digitised every past issue as part of one of its projects, Google Books, as well as every photo, published and unpublished, in Life’s archives. Google Books uses a technology which not only scans pages but reads the text within, making every word part of Google’s web of searchable knowledge. By March 2012, Google Books had digitised over 20 million unique books, the word “unique” meaning that duplicates, reprints and alternative versions – anything that might cause confusion – are only counted once. Trinity’s library, by comparison, has five million non-unique volumes. Trinity’s was established in 1592; Google Books started in 2004. On the evening of my purchase of Great Expectations, I already had a name, an address, and a photo. Using the first two, written by Suzanne innocently on
the flyleaf without knowledge that such sleuthing would ever be possible, Google made quick work of pointing me to the blog of her neighbourhood’s residents’ association. The classifieds section of the association’s newsletter belies a wealthy neighbourhood. Ads include private yoga classes, a psychotherapist who specialises in helping artists and a nanny living on Fifth Avenue. Of course, a quick stroll on Google Street View could have told me that Suzanne’s is an upmarket area. Manhattan was among the first locations to be mapped by Google’s Street View, using cars which take 360-degree imagery as they travel roads all over the world. The project has seen some 5m unique miles of road mapped, snapping 21.5bn megabytes of imagery along the way. In 2010, these vehicles were engulfed in considerable controversy when it was discovered that they were equipped to collect data from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks including personal emails and browsing history. Google was fined an insignificant sum in 2012, and the practice has now ceased. But why did Google want this information? Were they dishonouring their informal motto, “Don’t be evil”? The fact is that Google probably had most of this information already through the popularity of Gmail, Chrome and other Google products. Recently announced on Google’s blog, Street View is now available for a host of universities worldwide, including – you guessed it – Trinity College, Dublin. Forget that traditional map you were just handed, fresher; Google has mapped and marked every College building. Google, which to me had seemed at first powerless to delve into an undigitised past, had given me more and more. Suzanne’s uncredited roles in TV shows and films in the 1940s and 50s and her photo in Life were hardly such fame as invited my snooping. Unlike today’s major (and minor) celebrities, she wasn’t toting her mermaid suit to thousands of followers on Twitter. What I had considered a fairly ethically uncomplicated (if a little voyeuristic) pastime was quickly becoming a little suspect – disrespectful, even. Does Suzanne Plummer have a right to be forgotten? She is, or was, part of a unique generation of people. She lived in an era of mass media. She appeared on television and in films and featured once in a widely circulated magazine. However, while the time of her twenties was digital, it was not networked. What’s surprising about Google’s power is not that it can produce endless photos of Miley Cyrus, but that it can delve into an undigitised and internet-innocent past, dragging forgotten relics into a searchable present. In an am-
bitious declaration that echoes John F Kennedy’s promise in 1962 to “go to the moon in this decade”, Google has promised to digitise the world’s books by the end of our decade. Google reinforced the allusion to Kennedy by toting that “[i]t takes about the same amount of computing to answer one Google Search query as all the computing done – in flight and on the ground – for the entire Apollo program!” How did Google go from a clever little search engine to a commonly used verb and online monolith? Whereas Apple has a strong portfolio of native innovations and patents protecting those innovations, Google has grown largely through strategic takeovers. In its short history, Google has acquired 117 companies along with their products, talent and patents. In-game advertising software, voice over internet protocol (VoIP), airfare search and booking software, image recognition software and video websites are just some of the fields Google has expanded into. Google’s $12.5bn (€10.3 bn) acquisition of Motorola was not done to turn the manufacturer into a market leader, but to strengthen Google’s patent portfolio for their own mobile phone products. In late 2010 Google was in the final stages of negotiations with the online payment processor, PayPal, to facilitate payments on Google’s mobile operating system, Android. At the last moment, Google baulked on the deal and headhunted the PayPal executive who had led the negotiations. PayPal have filed a lawsuit against Google for the use of their trade secrets in the formation of the Google Wallet strategy. On Google’s blog, the firm’s CEO, Larry Page, said, “We are always looking for new ways to supercharge the Android ecosystem.” And an ecosystem of interdependent products is exactly what Google wants to be. This month Google began selling Google Fiber, a high-speed internet and television service, to Kansas City residents. Suburban Kansas only gets Google Fiber if their area has reached their “pre-registration goal” during their Fiber “rally”. “What?” you ask. If enough households register their interest by paying a $10 (€7.62) fee in the allotted time, Google follows the money and lays the cable. It’s a strategy consciously drawn from grassroots politics. Residents have been canvassing their neighbours to sign up, resulting in some “fiberhoods” where 50% of residents have pre-registered. In years past, Googling yourself was an amusing experiment because it yielded thousands of results that had nothing to do with you. But today, just adding “TCD” will probably yield the real you. There’s a good chance Suzanne Plummer never used a Google product, and yet I could still find out a mine of information about her with only a few pointers. How will the lives of those of us who use Google products every day be recorded and represented in a search result 60 years from now? Be careful what you canvas for.
Infographic: Éna Brennan
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
“When the history of education in Ireland is written, they’ll say that was the year the points race stopped” Ian Curran sits down with the senior lecturer, Dr Patrick Geoghegan.
D Ian Curran News Editor
A proposed pilot scheme to reform the entrance system for prospective Trinity students will be put to a vote before the Undergraduate Studies Committee and the University Council next month. The scheme proposes to set aside several places in a select number of courses for entry in 2014, allocated to a feasibility study into the possibility of assessing prospective students on three different criteria when considering their application to College. In an interview with Trinity News, the senior lecturer, Dr Patrick Geoghegan, said that students will be judged not only on their leaving certificate points, but also on two other criteria. The second criterion will be relative performance rank (RPR), which Geoghegan described as “your place in your class” relative to the other people in that secondary school class applying for places at Trinity. The third will be “the supplementary assessments, which would be additional information that you would provide like short answers to a number of essay topics, a little bit about why you want to do this course and a little about your school and educational background.” Geoghegan stated that the problem remains that “relying on any one scale can lead to distortions”, and that the feasibility study will aim to provide as much “contextual data” about individual applicants as possible. The scheme will use a series of alpha-numeric scales, meaning that each set of criteria will be assigned its own range of letters or numbers. Leaving certificate results will be on a scale of Y-Z, the RPR will be A-E and the supplementary assessments will be 1-6. Dr Geoghegan illustrates an example of how the system would then work: “So you’d have the three [candidates] and you’d have someone who was a 1AW, and that’s
the highest – so they were in the top one or two in the class, their supplementary information was good and they showed real potential, Leaving Cert results were very good – then, you might say, then the people on 6ZE, we’ll rule them out.” So, students filling out their CAO forms in 2014 will have the option to either opt into or out of the feasibility study. In a class of, for example, 100 students, 10 of the places might be ringfenced for the study. If a student opts out of the study, then “you are eligible for the 90 places remaining.” However, if a student opts into the study, then they too will be eligible for the same 90 places; “if you don’t get one of those,” Geoghegan continues, “then you are eligible for consideration within the 10 [ring-fenced places].” The college hope to “make this as anonymous as possible”, so all the supplementary information will be provided through the CAO. “Public trust will be a big thing,” says the senior lecturer, and this appears to be somewhat of an uphill battle with certain education experts arguing that there will be an inevitable loss of anonymity. Moreover, he says that, while the vast majority of people “hate the points system … people are a bit wary about finding something else because they think, ‘Could this be corrupted?’” Nevertheless, there appears to be a significant amount of support for this from groups and individuals external to Trinity, with Stephen Schwartz, who sat on the British government’s working group that investigated similar reform there, being “a key ally”. Geoghegan spent part of the summer talking to various deans of admissions from “elite American universities” about this project. He hopes that a former dean of admissions from one of those colleges would sit in on the work-
ing group that will explore the implementation of this feasibility study. Moreover, the Department of Education seems to be very supportive of the study. Geoghegan thinks this could be an instance of “Trinity and the Department working together.” He also thinks that it is very important for College to “show leadership” with this project; even if it does fail, then at least it would show that “Trinity is prepared to be radical. We’re prepared to be innovative and inventive.” He also stated that
Trinity, “as Ireland’s university of global consequence”, has something of a moral obligation to pioneer this scheme and to share the findings with the educational sector as a whole. Even if it does fail, he says that “at least it’s good for a university to take responsibility”. If it works, on the other hand, Geoghegan is confident that this could be a historic moment: “This could be something that, when the history of education in Ireland or even the history of the 21st century in Ireland [is written,] people could point to
this and say, ‘That was the year that the points race stopped.’” There are a number of issues that Geoghegan feels this pilot programme could address. Foremost is the issue of rote learning, and its distorting effect on college applications. He stated that “pre-packaged answers … prepared by teachers or grind tutors” were a massive problem, and provided advantage only “to those who can pay for those advantages”. He added, “If someone has had every advantage, you would expect them to do well in the testing,
but someone else might have had none of those advantages and there could be contextual data [that could be] very important for them.” He also said that the feasibility study hopes to address the issue of students picking courses carrying high points in the CAO system simply because “they’re afraid to waste their points”. Geoghegan commented, “Relying on the one scale means that, I think, we miss out people who would be brilliant, and this is an attempt to try and see can we identify these people
and match them to the right course, rather than just letting the system decide … We want students from all over the 32 counties with academic ability, and not just from a select number of feeder schools.” Reform to Trinity’s entrance system has been on the national agenda for a while. Not only was it was one of the current provost’s election promises in his manifesto in 2011, but, as Geoghegan points out, last year’s Hyland report highlighted some of the more pertinent issues within the system. The senior lecturer feels that this fits into the reforms that the minister for education, Ruairí Quinn, is making at both primary and secondary levels. He stated that, pending the approval of the Undergraduate Studies Committee on 2nd October and the University Council on 24th October, there would be a public launch in late November or December in which “every document that we have on it would be published”, in preparation for the work that will have to be done alongside teachers’ unions and guidance councillors. Geoghegan said that College will do “… everything that we can do to build trust in this feasibility study and show people that this is a fairer and a better way.”
The Death of Print Journalism The death of the newspaper is announced with increasing insistence every year. Saphora Smith spoke to Trinity graduates who are trying to scratch a living in the industry.
I Saphora Smith Deputy InDepth Editor
An economic collapse and the problematic popularity of free online alternatives means that this decade has not been particularly kind to newspapers and their profits. Yet every year Trinity students invest time, and the college invests money, in producing a diverse range of publications, including three newspapers, free of charge to students. I spoke to several graduates grappling with the economics of being a journalist outside Trinity’s protective training ground. Before Dan Sheehan graduated from Trinity in 2010, he was editor of Icarus during its important 60th anniversary. In advance of the magazine’s launch, he contacted the late Caroline Walsh, an editor on the Irish Times, to ask if her newspaper would like to profile the magazine. “She said ‘Yes’, but wanted me to write the article myself, which I was delighted with. She also said she would also send me some books to review, to get a sense of my writing. After that, she just kept sending me work.” Sheehan continued to write small reviews of new paperbacks for the Irish Times until three days before Christmas in 2011, when Caroline Walsh died. One of her earliest pieces for the Irish Times, in 1975, was a chronicle of her 10-week hunt for an apartment in England’s capital: “Single, Irish, Female and Homeless in London”. I guess ever major editor has humble beginnings. Sheehan recalled his editor with some fondness. “She really gave me a break … She suggested the master’s that I ended up doing” – an MFA in creative writing in UCD – “and I used her as a reference for my application. I got things I wouldn’t have got without that experience of writing for the Irish Times.” Walsh is universally remembered by those who worked with her in this vein. “She mentored a lot of people … She was one of a previous school. She was actively interested in turning people into writers. [The industry] is
harder now. Things are more faceless and nameless.” In the last decade, newspapers worldwide have suffered due to the growth of online advertising, free online classifieds and blogging sites. All these services, many of them free to end-users, diminish newspaper sales, undermine the premiums they can charge for advertisements, and in turn reduce the amount that papers can afford to pay their writers. “I can’t imagine trying to make a living in freelance arts journalism alone,” Sheehan said. “It would always just be a supplementing your income.” Sheehan is currently writing about literature and theatre for ArtHub.ie, a start-up covering the arts in Ireland. Are newspapers dying? “It’s more about what it’s evolving into,” says Sheehan. “We’re still buying papers every day.” Sheehan is interested in longform journalism (also known as narrative or literary journalism), articles which go beyond the opus of most newspapers in terms of scale and depth. The prospects for that kind of work in Ireland haven’t traditionally been very promising. “You have to establish yourself to a point where a newspaper would trust you. You’d have to do it on your own dime and try to sell it cold.” The advent of online media has seen news, opinion and review articles transitioning swiftly from print to digital, even if not every newspaper has managed to make enough money from that transition. Longer, narrative journalism did not make the leap quite so quickly. With the growth of blogging and microblogging sites like Tumblr and Twitter, it can seem that brevity rules. However, journalists are now finding ways to sell high-quality in-depth journalism online. Some writers seek the money they need to get started through crowdsourcing websites, where projects are funded in small increments by anyone who likes the sound of an idea. Two weeks ago, the digital publication Nar-
ratively succeeded in finding 802 people to pledge $53,740 (€40,936) so that they could write human-interest stories about residents of New York. Noah Rosenberg of Narratively told Journalism.co.uk, “I think people are realising that ‘Hey, there’s more to the internet, there’s more to journalism and news than this.’” (Closer to home, The Penny Dreadful, a literary magazine founded by graduates of University College Cork, raised money for their project through fundit.ie, an Irish crowd-sourcing website.) Being able to package and market your stories, and use multimedia as well as good writing, has become integral to making it as a journalist. “Now, the idea of being a print journalist for 30 years is ridiculous,” said the Trinity graduate and former Trinity News editor Dave Molloy. “When I left college, I thought stuff would fall into my lap.” It hasn’t come quite that easy for Molloy, although one day he did get something of a lucky break. “I was working in a call centre, hating it. My blog was picked up by broadsheet.ie, and Blaithnid Healy [who was working for RTÉ] contacted me. I thought, ‘This doesn’t happen.’” Since covering the last presidential election on RTÉ’s social media channels, Molloy has worked in a marketing agency in Cork. At the moment he is a community journalist for WorldIrish.com, a start-up that aims to create an online community for Irish expats. “From a practitioner’s point of view, the biggest change is that you need to be able to do a little bit of everything now,” said Niamh Sweeney, a Trinity graduate and former RTÉ journalist now working as a freelance reporter in the US. “Newspapers want more and more video and audio for their websites, so the more varied content you can provide, the more work you’ll get … I feel lucky in that my first ever job in journalism was in the RTÉ newsroom. I worked in radio for five years
so I know how to edit sound in my sleep. Video comes more naturally then, when you’re already familiar with patching something together. When I came to the US to study it was so I could specialise in business journalism but, oddly, the biggest change for me was that I learned to like writing. I had only ever seen myself as a broadcaster before that. There is a bizarre myth out there that radio and television people don’t write, as though they just go on air and start talking! Now, that line is blurred anyway.” Is print dead? “I get so tired of hearing everybody talk about the death of print journalism. There’s still a huge appetite for good reporting and good writing, and – although, admittedly, a lot of it is trash – people are reading more than ever. Just because everything is moving online doesn’t mean that the basic tools of the trade have changed. Certainly, mistakes were made at the beginning. Advertising alone won’t sustain decent print journalism. I pay for what I value, like the New York Times and the Financial Times. Other people haven’t quite made that leap yet, but I think they will. It is sad to hear of newspaper after newspaper closing down here in the US, but I am confident a new, stronger ‘print’ media will emerge over time.” Is print still the medium in which journalists prefer to see their work appear? “There is something about seeing your work on a physical page, but I think that’s more to do with my vintage than anything else! My roommate – a fellow journalist – was in a magazine store last week and overheard a conversation between two teenagers that went along the lines of, ‘Why do they even print magazines anymore?’ followed by, ‘Yeah, do people still read them?’ At the end of the day, writing is still writing. It shouldn’t matter how, or where, we read it. I’m happy so long as somebody is reading my work – even if it’s just my mother!”
Photo: George Voronov
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
Raceocracy Barnor Hesse, professor of African-American studies at Northwestern University in Chicago talks to TN about how the performance of race shapes our politics and governance.
C Rónán Burtenshaw Editor
(Q.) an you tell us a bit about your background? Where you grew up, where you went to college and how you ended up as an academic in African-American studies? I grew up in a political, leftwing family. My father had experience in the areas of antiracism, anti-colonialism, trade unionism and so on. I’m from Liverpool and studied at Liverpool University, graduating in sociology. I was interested in community work, which I did for a couple of years. I then did a PhD in Essex University at the beginning of the 90s, working under a program called “ideology and discourse analysis”. My particular interest in relation to that was the development of rethinking race as a form of governance, and trying to specify a theoretical paradigm for black politics. The latter was interesting to me because, if you grow up as a person of colour in the west and you are saturated with western scholarship, what you find is that the particular lineage in which you locate yourself as a black person is often marginalised. It’s only available as raw experience for European thinkers to theorise. These kind of issues are often not taught in schools; you find yourself drawing on them in social, political and cultural networks, usually with the family as a source to begin with. I tried to develop ideas that theorised the west and its politics from the perspectives of those who we’d now call postcolonial or black thinkers, who were grappling with these kinds of issues. It’s interesting, but, when you look at post-colonial or black theorists, they’re usually more global than white European or American thinkers, if only because, if you’re a black thinker or post-colonial thinker, you deal with the very issues of westernness and whiteness plus the communities which have been excluded. So you don’t have to look for yourself – you’re there. Most people are there in the work of, say, WEB Du Bois. But not Max
Weber, if you like, or Agamben or Foucault. But you’re there in Frantz Fanon. So it’s a strange situation – where people who are associated with particularistic experiences are actually more universal than the people who are associated with presenting universal experiences. Getting to the US was particularly difficult because of the experience that I had as an academic in London. I became aware of the fact that it is extraordinarily difficult for black scholars to emerge and get jobs. It’s a lottery that you can play, but you don’t have a ticket. Around about the late 90s, I began exploring the US, having finished my PhD in 1998. In the US you had a proliferation of departments of African-American studies. Having spent two terms at Berkeley, one in 1999 and the other in 2002, I realised that if I was going to stay in academia I had to move to the US. Q. Do you think that the academic and intellectual culture in the US is more progressive than Britain’s because of the development of African-American studies? I would think it’s a standard assumption on this side of the Atlantic that European political discourse on racial issues is more progressive. I think there are two things going on here. European political and intellectual culture is more progressive on broader issues around class, leftism and, in many respects, anti-racism. But that’s a very narrow aspect, the anti-racist part of it. The US is more progressive in terms of questions of diversity, linking race, gender and sexuality and so on. Academics are more familiar with questions of race and not frightened of them. Publishers engage with these issues rather than not. So, if you look at the British university culture, there isn’t much in terms of major academics who have to think about these things. American academics have to come into contact with the
work of scholars of colour. European scholars generally don’t. So they remain deeply parochial in their progressiveness. That’s the point. Q. Your book title contains the term “raceocracy”. I’m aware that you spoke at length about the term in your lecture, but would it be possible for you to give a distilled version of this for our readers? It’s an idea I’m trying to develop to account for the way in which race rules – which is to say the way in which race orders the political and social lives of people – without being accountable to any spoken or written discourse, simply because it’s performed. And it’s performed in such a way that it sustains people’s relationships by facilitating aspects of life that everybody appears to agree upon. For instance, immigration facilitates a particular aspect of life whereby people are regulated in terms of who can come to a country and who cannot. What that does, apparently, is give a country protection; it enables a country to manage its citizenship rights. But its origins and its undeclared performance is still with making demarcations racially between deserving populations, who can move freely without hinderance, and undeserving populations, who, at different times, have to be regulated more heavily than others. To object to that race governance part – which is performed – almost requires you to object to immigration control because we have no other way of thinking about it other than the way it’s done. Unfortunately, because it’s simply performed around race, and that’s not part of its legislative form, it’s almost as if it is without race. This is because we are in a tradition of contesting questions of race in terms of explicit discourse and not unspoken, systemic performances. You find the raceocracy emerging almost as a kind of silent bureaucracy around governing through race, which requires
no accountability to spoken or written discourse but is nevertheless guaranteed by the results it produces: disproportionate arrests and imprisonments numbers in the criminal justice system. And none of this is being seen as provoking any kind of outrage. It’s a description of what’s happening performatively, and going untreated, at the same time as we’re treating racism. We outlaw the N-word and discrimination within the context of governing through race. Q. In your work, you differentiate between a number of definitions of racism. Could you spell out some of the fundamental difference between these definitions, and then what your definition of racism is? Most people, when they think about defining racism, will do it in one of two ways. They’ll either say that racism which puts one race against another in some kind of hierarchy or relation of oppression has always existed, and you can find it in various different cultures. This is known as biological racism. The second statement, which is related to that, is that racism involves one ethnic group dominating another ethnic group and essentialising that relation, which is to say arguing that this is a natural relation of dominance. Or, put another way, these ethnic groups are incommensurable. We’re so selfcontained that we are inevitably antagonistic to each other; we shouldn’t live in proximity to each other. This is known as cultural racism. What I was trying to say was that we never asked the question about how we arrived at those particular definitions. Not even to contest them, but how did we arrive at them? What do those definitions do? Or what does it mean to call something racism? If we look at the beginning of the 20th century, it’s clear that the habit and practice of calling something racism developed then. To call something racism means putting into question
and interrogating and challenging a particular way of thinking and doing race. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were a number of ways you could have questioned race, if you wanted to. You could have looked at the world in 1920 and said, “Well, quite clearly the white, western world controls the world largely through colonialism; we need to question that idea that white supremacy is a natural way of governing the world.” Nobody’s hiding that, everybody knows it. Every single western politician knows it and nobody contests it, whether it’s in Britain, Ireland, Australia, Canada or the US. It’s the natural governance of international relations. But in the 1920s and 30s that’s not put into question, that way of doing and thinking race. What is put into question is the way in which the emerging non-colonial-powered Germany develops, through its Nazi polity, a form of nationalism that’s based on race and race science. But the race science begins to exclude and create an abject population of the Jews, expelling Jewish populations from their European citizenship and, in effect, their whiteness. That’s how race gets to be put into question, where you get the notion of Jews being herded into ghettos, Jewish discrimination in terms of their elimination from employment, their inability to marry who they choose. What happens then is that the people who are mobilising anticolonialism, for civil rights and later the black-power movement, they begin to use the new concept of racism to represent their viewpoints. If you look at the history broadly, you’ll find they’re saying, “You said racism was bad because of what happened to Jewish populations, so look at our experience.” Du Bois said this, Fanon, Césaire. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, too. They’ll all make reference to Hitler’s Germany. What then tends to happen is that – when you get these grudging concessions from the US, later Britain, and to some
extent France, Australia – it’s because they realise that they have established principles like human rights that require them to come to terms with these values. But they only come to terms with those values when pushed through tremendous struggles. Sometimes it’s armed rebellion, sometimes it’s civil disobedience. The result that we get is a very uneasy truce around how race will order our lives. We will outlaw racial discrimination, spoken and written, but we don’t outlaw the performance of race that maintains a certain relation of regulation or governance because it’s not spoken or written and that’s not part of our political culture. So, if you look at a place like Chicago or other places where you get deeply entrenched racial segregation, nobody speaks about that. Q. When you use the term “raceocracy”, you talk about race being the rule as opposed to the exception. That being the case, how do you bring that understanding to political discourse without losing the moral force exerted against racism in popular movements as an exception, or something that is an affront to existing politics and society? It’s a double-edged sword, I think. I’ll give an example. If you know anything about the history of the police, and particularly the history in the UK and Ireland, they are introduced to contain, and are an imposition on, working-class populations. They are brought in to regulate the street. In the early 19th century history of the police, there are a lot of clashes with working-class populations who don’t accept their legitimacy. Throughout the 19th century and into the 20th century, you find the development of the legitimacy of the police as they are called in to resolve disputes that are happening in working-class communities, or to protect them from things like burglary and thievery and so on. The police, at the same time as establishing law and order, also act in oppressive ways towards working-class communities and minorities. You may be
persecuted by the police but nevertheless need the police to come and investigate a crime: say, domestic violence, or racist attacks. So, here’s an institution that works for you and against you. In any society that is profoundly unequal, in some areas antagonistic populations at the lower-end are experiencing institutions in a deeply double-edged way. And that’s how they’ll be experiencing democracy. If you’re going to mobilise around the importance of democracy, you’ve got to realise that, in terms of its immediacy, it promotes equality and sustains inequality. You might then say that what we need is a better democracy to get rid of the inequality. But if you think about that, politically and theoretically – even if you go back as far as the Greeks – there’s never been a notion of democracy without inequality or exclusion. Remember that Aristotle, who wrote about democracy and the constitution, wasn’t particularly interested in favouring democracy. The original democracies were always restricted. Ancient Greek or Athenian democracy were restricted to householders, people over 21, men. Excluded from that are women, children, slaves, the poor. Has there ever been a western democracy without exclusions? No. People might say, “Well, we understand exclusion on the basis of citizens and non-citizens.” But why would democracy be based on the national state? After all, the original Greek form is based on the city-state. So, one might have to say, “Should there be an exclusion from democracy based around nationalism?” Democracy itself isn’t a pure concept. It’s an important construct, but it’s one that’s double-edged. And this is what we have to remember in social movements, too: the paradoxes and complexities that racial rule has created over the course of centuries.
Barnor Hesse’s book, Creolizing the Political: a Genealogy of the African Diaspora, is forthcoming from Duke University Press.
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
La bureaucratie? Ca m’énerve. p.12
The Disaﬃliation Debate
I Mark O’Meara Campaign Manager
will be voting yes to USI disaffiliation in the upcoming referendum, and I urge everyone else to do the same. For newcomers to Trinity, it might be hard to understand what all the fuss is about. You may have seen the “USI levy” charge on your bill along with the student contribution, but didn’t actually understand what the levy was or how it would improve your college life. You may have considered the student contribution to be curiously high, and the €8 USI levy to be nothing in comparison. Yet the two fees could not be more related. The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is the only national students’ union in this country. Its membership consists of “member organisations”, which are in effect various different students’ unions from around the country. Five of the seven Irish university students’ unions are affiliated to USI, including Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union. I want this affiliation to end. Everyone will have their own reasons for disaffiliation. Some, I’m sure, have sought it since they first became aware of what their €8 USI levy was actually being used for. There are many others, including myself, who have never been too keen on USI but, until recently, figured it to be relatively harmless and easy to ignore. Recent events have, however, lead to this idea being reconsidered. Over the last few years, as the current and previous governments have slowly increased the registration fee, renamed it to the student contribution, and increased it further, the need for effective national student representation became more important than ever. The need for an effective student voice at the negotiating table was as big as it would ever be during our student lives. There was a need for an individual or a group of individuals to represent the student position – whatever that position might be – to those who control our education. But the voice wasn’t there. USI failed spectacularly in its selfdescribed role as the “sole national representative body for students in Ireland”. Many will be able to identify with relative ease a number of critical mistakes that USI made during this period. Frustration at their failure to make even the smallest dent in government policy led to occupations of government buildings and attempted occupations of political party offices. Protest marches seemed to turn into an annual event. Late in November 2011, a large number of USI officers apparently decided to stroll around the city centre looking for any government buildings to walk into and make a scene. They ended up at the Labour party headquarters. USI had not been on the best of terms with the Labour party ever since
Photo: George Voronov
Ruairi Quinn broke the election pledge, which he had signed with USI, to not increase fees. No doubt the officers got a little excited as they approached the door of Labour’s HQ, contemplating the inconvenience they were about to inflict on the upper ranks of the party. Unfortunately, as they attempted to proceed into the building, they discovered that Labour had the upper hand: the door was locked. With apparently no plan in mind for this possible outcome, they then proceeded to the next government building they could find. Their occupation of the Department of Jobs shortly afterwards went slightly better: they made it inside the building. It was during this occupation that the USI officers involved decided to inform the other USI officers (including our own Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union president, Ryan Bartlett) by email of what was actually happening in their name. Once the gardaí had arrived and mentioned pepper spray, they dispersed. The group later reconvened at the Department of Social Protection and locked themselves inside a room. The gardaí soon arrived, and after some negotiations the USI representatives eventually left. We then had the “preferendum” embarrassment. For those who may not have been around for this, USI attempted to update its fees policy by having each member institution hold a vote, a preferendum, among their student body to find out what fees policy they wanted. It ended in disaster. The fees preferendum was supposed to take place towards the end of the 2011-2012 academic year. Many institutions, such as Trinity, put a lot of effort into ensuring that this would happen. Many other institutions did not, and the situation at the next USI meeting was that some delegates had mandates (due to the fact that they had held their preferendum, as they were supposed to) and other delegates did not have a mandate due to their own unions not holding the preferendum on time. Many delegates who had simply not put in the effort to hold the vote in their own institution then complained that they could not vote on their students’ behalf, because they did not know what the students wanted. The decision on a new USI fees policy was postponed. A second preferendum was held online during the summer, which also ended in disaster. There were claims of a “fix” and a lack of fairness. These claims came largely from the Free Education for Everyone (FEE) delegates when it seemed the outcome would not be a “free fees” policy. Once the result was in and a “free fees” policy won by a narrow margin, the shouts and complaints about a lack of transparency and a lack of oversight oddly disappeared quite quickly. The major problem with USI
for us, as Trinity students, is that the organisation is at best unnecessary. At worst, when you consider recent events, it could be seriously damaging to our lobbying power as students. Something needs to change. Trinity College is in a unique position here. Rightly or wrongly, we have the media spotlight, the pulling power, and the senators. With all of these advantages, the simple fact is that, for us, USI are simply an extra layer of unjustifiable abstraction from our views as a college. Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union are more than capable of representing us on a national level, and should therefore receive our funding instead. I disagree with the idea that a single unified student voice will automatically better represent Trinity students. The logic that it’s better to have a loud voice speaking about policies and carrying out actions, policies with which we may not agree and actions which we may not want, on our behalf is somehow better for us than our own voice is something that has never made sense to me. I don’t see the sense in weakening our own position in order to strengthen an opposing position, a position that encourages occupations of government buildings and of the headquarters of political parties. The attempted occupation of a political party’s headquarters took place just before USI representatives were supposed to meet with members of the same party to negotiate on our behalf. A response we can expect is the claim that all of these problems were down to former USI president Gary Redmond, and with him gone USI is now capable of lobbying on our behalf. Unfortunately, that is not true. Gary Redmond was not acting alone. He wasn’t alone on that night of USI occupations. He wasn’t the one who cried “cheat” when it looked like the USI fees policy would be changing from a policy advocating 100% exchequer funding, and then disappeared quietly into the background once it turned out that there would in fact be no policy change. Quite simply, while we share an organisation with institutions that do their best to resist the views of the students throughout the country, and throughout our college, it’s going to be difficult to claim that USI can represent our views better than our own union. We need to give our own students’ union a voice. We need our own views to be represented on a national level – whatever those views may be. We need to have a stronger connection to our national representation. Until USI shows us that it can represent our views, that it can be a force for good in the student movement, then we should give the responsibility of representing us on a national level to the organisation that we know is capable of doing so – Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union.
O John Logue USI President
On the morning of 19th June 1959, a group of earnest and idealistic students made their way to Trinity College, Dublin. Journeying from the four provinces, England and Scotland, they gathered in the GMB where they were greeted by Prof EA Crawford, a lecturer in education and psychology. The meeting was organised to discuss the constitution of a new organisation; an organisation based on principles of equality and fairness, and possessing the ideal that education is a right to be afforded to all Irish citizens, regardless of race, gender, means or creed. That organisation was the Union of Students in Ireland. In its second year, the USI was led by TCD’s Noel Igoe, who would go on to serve a second term. Igoe sought to have the organisation officially recognised by the government while also travelling to international conferences, particularly those of the International Union of Students, cementing the union’s place as the representative body for Irish students. The government was slow to recognise the USI, viewing it with extreme suspicion and sceptical of its political motivations. In correspondence with the taoiseach’s office, the former UCD president Michael Tierney described the USI as “a terribly dangerous organisation”. This description echoed the rumours of communism that establishment politicians sought to spread about the USI. 53 years on, and long since recognised by the government, the USI stands as the sole national representative body for third level students in Ireland, with a membership of 250,000. As with any democratic organisation, there have been times when members have questioned their involvement, with students’ unions affiliating, disaffiliating and then re-affiliating. So it has been with Trinity. This year marks the tenth anniversary of Trinity’s re-affiliation with the USI, TCDSU having left the organisation in the early 90s. In the ten years since 2002, representatives from Trinity have contributed enormously to the policy and
actions of the organisation, with one president and three deputy presidents coming from House Six. Last year, however, some Trinity students questioned the merits of the relationship between the USI and TCDSU. The roots of this discontent lay in the perception that Trinity students’ evolving view on the fees issue was somewhat divergent from the USI’s free fees policy. The question then, it seems, is whether it be said that TCDSU and the USI share the same goals, principles and vision for third level education and the student movement. I believe that it can. Why? It’s worth looking to the founding documents of both unions: their constitutions. Policies change on an almost annual basis, but the basic principles of both unions remain largely unchanged since their founding. In both cases, the constitutions of TCDSU and the USI state that the organisations strive to promote and defend the interests of their members irrespective of considerations such as means, nationality, age, race, gender, creed or political group. The education and welfare of members is of paramount concern to both unions. The wording of these principles in both constitutions is practically identical. Two unions, with mutual principles and with a shared vision for their members. This has borne itself out over the years, as the USI and TCDSU campaigned together for truly accessible third level education, family planning rights, LGBT rights and the realisation of equality for all Irish citizens. Sometimes we have disagreed over the means of campaigning, but we have never disagreed on the ultimate goal. It is true, however, that Trinity and its students have sometimes been frustrated with the USI. This has led some to think that Trinity would be better served by representing its own interests to government and the national media. The reality is that TCDSU derives much of its strength on the national level from its membership of the USI and the manner in which it can influence national policy. There are very few SU presidents who
have either the time or the inclination to represent their college’s views to government and the media, and the unfortunate truth is that there is less interest still from the government and media in what a single SU president has to say on national issues. The USI president is recognised as the national spokesperson for Irish third level students. We issue press releases on a weekly basis, and I have already had a number of media engagements on radio, television and in print. The USI is asked to appear on Prime Time, The Frontline, TV3 News, RTÉ Radio One and NewsTalk FM, and in the Irish Times and the Irish Independent, among others. Simply put, the media’s default reaction when a student issue arises is to seek comment from USI. At a government level, the USI sits on the board of the Higher Education Authority, and on the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland, a new agency established to promote quality assurance in third level education. We meet with government ministers, TDs, senators and local councillors. We form partnerships with other representative groups, such as the Irish Farmers’ Association, and we develop relationships with local communities and parent groups. We do the national work, so that your students’ union can work for you at the local level. And, while some may have doubted it last year, we are always mindful of our shared principles and aims. The solution to Trinity’s grievances with USI is not to disaffiliate. I urge students to recognise that there is more that unites our unions than divides them. This is as true today as it was on 19th June 1959, when Trinity students became founding members of our national union. Now is not the time to abandon the vision that brought about that gathering in the GMB. It’s time to reaffirm that vision. It’s time for Trinity to do for USI now what it did in 1959 – proudly declare the goals of the national student movement and act on that declaration by building a union that is fit to call itself the Union of Students in Ireland.
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
Convention de Stage Our anonymous reporter reveals how red tape strangles the French internship experience. Anonymous
Illustration: Mice Hell
Why Quinn Lied Honesty would quickly make him obsolete argues Manus Lenihan Manus Lenihan Comment Editor “God, these people have voted for the wrong thing three times in the last fifteen years and the country has been destroyed. I just can’t afford to take any chances. I want to nail this down.” Those were the words of Ruairí Quinn in the RTÉ documentary Labour’s Way, describing what he was thinking when he made his pledge not to increase college fees during the 2011 election campaign. This time last year the education minister was making noises to the effect that he was going to break his promise. As we start another term with Quinn’s €250 increase on our backs, postgraduate grants gone and worse yet to come, Quinn’s name is in the air again. The minister has had to explain himself several times since he broke his pledge, most recently in another RTÉ documentary, Inside the Department. It’s worth revisiting the matter in that light because it tells us a lot about how our government and political establishment work. Quinn’s explanations have been varied and contradictory. After 20,000 students protested last November Quinn said, “We’re not in control of our financial affairs because of the way Fianna Fáil destroyed the economy” (RTÉ, Inside the Department). There are a few elements in this explanation that we can explore: first off, blaming Fianna Fáil. This is totally contradicted by the facts. Labour’s 2007 election manifesto tells us, on the first page alone, that “Ireland has a successful economy” and that “The prosperity dreamt of by the founders of the state has been achieved.” Throughout the manifesto you will find what amount to ringing endorsements of Fianna Fáil- Progressive Democrat economic policy, along with unease at social problems and proposals for tinkering around the edges. Overall, throughout the years of the bubble, neither Labour nor Fine Gael offered any comprehensive critique of the massive problems that were so obviously being stored up for the immediate future. After the recession hit, Labour critiques of the last government had the same character as those the Fianna Fáil remnant now fires across the chamberpassionate, heavy with accusations of incompetence and callousness, but with no fundamental disagreement on approach. This is aside from the bank guarantee, which Labour opposed initially but is now implementing wholeheartedly.
Labour in power and in opposition have been indistinguishable to all practical purposes from Fianna Fáil. So if Quinn means that Fianna Fáil wrecked the economy between 2000 and 2008, that’s nonsense because Labour jumped on the bandwagon. If Quinn means that Fianna Fáil wrecked the economy between 2008 and 2011, we’d have to wonder why Fine Gael and Labour have been carrying out the same policies since 2011. Take a look at the other element in Quinn’s explanation. “The country has lost its economic sovereignty”, “We’re not in control of our financial affairs”, and variations, have become the standard response whenever a minister is beaten into a corner and forced to admit that there was no real change of policy in February 2011. In other words, that Labour is behaving like Fianna Fáil is not just a matter of opinion they effectively admit it every other day. They explain that the EU-IMF deal forces Labour to mimic the previous government. To return, yet again, to Quinn’s own words: if we don’t do as we’re told, “myself, and anyone else on a public service payroll, when we stick a bit of plastic into the wall, nothing would come out. That’s it. And that’s Greece’s dilemma at the moment.” Actually that’s not Greece’s dilemma at all. Greece is disintegrating because of austerity measures, not because of a lack of them. That’s what happens when private investment and revenue collapse, and your government cuts public spending to the bone. The propaganda about lazy Greeks who won’t take their medicine is just crude nonsense with no basis in fact. What applies to Greece applies to Ireland. Four years of austerity measures, never mind what party is bringing them in, have enriched the wealthiest 10% of the population, hammered everyone else and driven the economy as a whole to a point where a second bailout is on the cards for 2013. Just think about what’s happened to political discourse in the last few years, exemplified by Quinn. Before the election, Quinn said he would not bring in fees because college education is an investment that pays off in the long term. But now he tells us that if we don’t bring in fees anyway a higher power will wreck our economy with the click of a button. It’s a scary idea, even though at best there are only traces of truth in it. Third-level education and many other forms of investment that will pay for themselves many times over must be cut in favour of securing short-
term funding. Ability to create wealth is being sacrificed in favour of unsustainable cash in the ATMs, backed up by nothing. We’re in a disastrous dependency cycle. This, and the slavish mentality that goes with it, is much scarier than any threat Quinn can make. The Troika excuse doesn’t explain why Quinn lied about fees either. By February 2011, when he made that promise, the EU and IMF had been in town for months. Eamon Gilmore backed him up, saying that fees were a “red-line issue” that Labour wouldn’t back down from, thereby quickly smothering the excuse advanced later that the pledge only counted if, somehow, Labour was the biggest party after the election. Another explanation Quinn gives is that he was thinking about newborn babies. In four years, when they start primary school, Quinn wants “to make sure they’re looking into a schoolyard and not into a field.” Enough primary schools will be built to accommodate a rising population. Quinn touts this as his key achievement. As you read this, alarm bells should start ringing. This is what austerity means: not the socio-economic equivalent of skipping dessert or taking the stairs instead of the lift, but a profound regression. Centuries of urbanisation are unravelling in Greece as people return to the land. In our department of education there is a regression of a similar nature though on a smaller scale: an education minister is proud to say we’re on track to securing free universal primary school education. “It worries me that the gravity of the fiscal crisis is still not fully understood,” Quinn grumbled to a teachers’ union conference earlier this year. If you feel you don’t fully understand the crisis, consider this fact: we are being frozen out of thirdlevel education because the government still hasn’t got primary schools sorted. It will apparently be some achievement if we can lay down “the basic building blocks” of numeracy and literacy. But this “you don’t know how serious it is” trope is used very selectively. While admitting now and then how grave the situation is, just to shock people into silence, Quinn and other ministers will always maintain that recovery is in sight. Things are so bad they just have to cut child benefit- but apparently not so bad that we should consider taking over the wealth and assets, rather than the debts, of the super-rich. What stultifies the debate on fees and on austerity generally is the dead-end argument that fees could be “progressive”, or that a better grant system could
In other words, that Labour is behaving like Fianna Fáil is not just a matter of opinion - they effectively admit it every other day.
make the whole thing painless. What the example of Ruairí Quinn tells us about today’s political discourse is that we desperately need to stop having a meaningless debate about whether this or that should be cut, whether there should be new cuts or new taxes, whether this measure or that measure might be harmful or beneficial. All cutbacks and new taxes on working and middle class people will cause major pain, and will make the economy worse – that’s just common sense. If we accept the apocalyptic logic of austerity, we cannot consider anything to be sacred. We have another €5.5 billion in cuts between now and 2015, and the Treaty we voted for in May will demand more, maybe up to €6 billion more. Austerity itself will deepen the crisis further and “necessitate” further cutbacks. Colleges have already lost 19% of funding per student since 2008. Nobody should begin to imagine that education can come out of the austerity plan of the next few years as anything more than a hollow shell of what it is today. Inside the Department shows us Quinn’s point of view on the Deis schools controversy. We see him telling the news cameras that he has “reflected” on the impact of the cuts and decided to soften them. Later he gives us an insight into why and how he lies. Talking about the Deis schools episode, he tells us with a laugh how a 17th - century French finance minister described taxation: plucking feathers off a goose while trying to minimize the amount of hissing. He essentially tells us that he did not “reflect” on the Deis schools and change his mind about cutting them. He heard too much “hissing” and he shied away. Now Quinn is in the news again, calling for a renegotiation of the Croke Park deal. He wants to cut teachers’ and lecturers’ jobs, pay and conditions. He’s not going to find millions or billions of euros cutting the high pay of a small number of administrators and top academics. He’s run out of relatively painless feathers to pluck, in other words. This throws light on the quotation at the start of this article, in which Quinn told us he lied just to make sure we gullible plebs didn’t vote Fianna Fáil back in. It’s a shocking and cynical statement, but this doesn’t mean it’s true. I don’t believe Quinn lied because he hates Fianna Fáil and holds voters in contempt. I believe he lied because if any senior member of the political establishment was honest about what austerity means we’d be having a totally different debate. We’d be talking about alternatives to austerity, not scrabbling around within the narrow confines of the debate as set out by the media and the political establishment. If Quinn told the truth he would very quickly become obsolete.
PARIS: If you are thinking of moving to France at the end of your degree to gain some skills through an internship or a work-experience programme, the three most important words you need to know are convention de stage. As with all moves abroad, seeking advice, doing your research and planning every last detail is essential. But when it comes to France – and former Erasmus students in particular may nod their heads at this – the bureaucratic processes can be destructive. “But it's in the EU!” cry friends and family somewhat irrelevantly (although graduates from outside the EU inevitably have it worse); in France, you cannot apply for internships without a convention de stage. And here's the rub: in France, you cannot have a convention de stage without being a registered student. In legal terms, therefore, graduates do not have the right to apply for internships in France. First of all, what is a convention de stage? In a nutshell, it’s a contract that provides workplace insurance. The idea is that when you pay your registration fee at the beginning of the university year – as low as €181 for a state university undergraduate degree – you're covered for any medical costs incurred during that year. It is, in effect, your social security. After graduating, naturally, the fee no longer applies and you cease to be covered by the system. Attempting to discover just how frigid the system is, I applied for an internship with the well-rehearsed line that I was “in the process of obtaining the convention”. When I asked the British journalist interviewing me how important it really was, he recounted the experiences of a French intern whose university office had closed for the summer holidays. Upon discovering that the convention paperwork was unsigned for those summer months, the human resources department “marched into our office and escorted him off the premises before he could break a leg or else end up costing the company thousands in legal fees.” One only needs to glance at any of a few hundred internship adverts to get the point: “convention de stage OBLIGATOIRE” (internship contract COMPULSORY). The subject of internships in France, however, is not limited to international graduates; it’s usually with a sympathetic smile and a nod that French people react to my graduate story before sharing their own experiences. Audrey, 33, who works in recruitment and lives in Paris, recounts her personal experience as a graduate. “I had finished all my studies and wanted to go into the marketing side of the film industry, but as I had no experience in that field, I wanted to do an internship and learn that way. However, as a graduate, I was no longer covered by my university and therefore couldn't obtain a convention de stage.” It's a problem all French young people face, she explains, but the political motives behind it
are, she suggests, understandable. “The government wants companies to employ graduates instead of putting them through endless, badly paid internships, so they make it difficult for graduates to have the right to apply for internships. Of course, in practice, it doesn't work; people wanting to gain professional experience through internships have no other choice but to cheat the system.” As several other French people have advised me since my arrival, the most popular way of cheating the system appears to be enrolling in university all over again: you choose your subject, register online, pay your fee of €181 to a state university, and then it's just a matter of picking up your convention from the right administrative office. When I voiced concerns over stealing someone else's place at university in the name of my own bureaucratic needs, I was told that everyone can go to a state university, that everyone does it anyway so that they can get the convention, and, erm, perhaps don't apply for a master’s because, yes, on reflection that might affect someone else's life. However, the solution of applying for another undergraduate degree in the name of fixing social security dilemmas presents two problems. First of all, it is illegal. Secondly, while French students can go on registering with the third-level admissions website (http://www.admission-postbac.fr/) until July, I discovered (to my horror) that, for international students, admissions closed in March. In an attempt to try another, possibly illegal, way of gaining the legal right to do internships, I took whatever advice was given to me. A lawyer based in Paris, for example, advised me to go straight to the Inalco (France’s national institute of oriental languages and civilisations), fill out an application for Arabic or Hebrew classes, pay the fee and collect my convention de stage. “Everyone does it and just doesn’t turn up to the classes,” she told me. “We all did that the summer we graduated from law school; otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to do anything.” Again, I was too late to apply as an international student. The final niche that I am currently trying to tap – and, without doubt, the most honest of all three endeavours – is an online distance learning course (through the CNED, the national centre for distance education) which will finally give me the right to apply for internships. The catch? A fourhour entrance examination (in French) and a stinging registration fee of €650. Together with other complications – landlords who demand that renters’ income be three times the sum total of the monthly rent, or renters being forced to rent illegally, and thereby abandoning their rental rights – this business of interning in France might seem too stressful and costly to be worth it. But it is not impossible. However legally or illegally you want to play it, timing is key. But what else can prepare forthcoming graduates for
Do you think that College is responsible for informing you about potential professional pitfalls abroad? Join the debate online at www.trinitynews.ie
these kinds of potential pitfalls? After speaking to a few of my fellow graduates of French, not one of them knew what a convention de stage was. In addition, one graduate who spoke on condition of anonymity said that she thought the Department of French, and modern languages departments in general, were responsible for informing their students about pursuing careers abroad. Communications officer for the Students’ Union, Owen Bennett, disagrees. In an email to Trinity News, Bennett wrote that he did not personally think that modern languages departments are formally responsible for forewarning students about such difficulties in foreign countries. “I think it violates the ethos of a university education and Trinity's proud history of independent learning to expect departments to provide such information on a mandatory basis. I feel modern language courses, which are not aimed at providing ‘real world’ experience … should not face such an obligation.” Conversely, he stressed that the Careers Advisory Service has a responsibility to offer information on emigration because “… simply put, CAS is a student service.” He continued: “The SU has no mandate to pursue a defined policy with regard to emigration and the advice modern language courses give on the subject. However, should students have any contributions to make on this issue I would strongly advise them to contact the SU president and we can explore the possibility of passing a mandate on the issue at SU council.” The Careers Advisory Service maintain that they are dedicated to informing students about emigration-related issues, especially in today's economic climate. “If the person is interested in emigrating then we will usually provide advice and support to enable them to do that,” says Sean Gannon, director and careers adviser. “We have a number of resources on our website for doing this.” Strikingly, Gannon also explains that “internships are actually quite popular in France,” citing the convention de stage contract between employer, university and student. This might well be the case for happily registered students, but when it comes to the abyss that is internship rights for graduates in France, this assertion sadly does not hold sway. I do not seek to hold College accountable for their own mistakes in research and planning. But I equally wonder how other students feel about bureaucratic snares of this kind. How do future graduates - future emigrés that might also have to contemplate clandestine internship applications in (yes!) another EU country – feel about the information College has to offer regarding interning abroad? A culture of independent learning is indeed what makes Trinity special; but should a “headsup” regarding our rights as interns be excluded from that culture of education? This writer would argue that the last thing graduates need to be reminded of is exactly how alone we are.
Science - p.2 All eyes on Curiosity; the most complex and ambitious mission to Mars in history Anthea Lacchia and Stephen Keane
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
Student victory, but at what cost? Quebec
Children’s rights: law, theory and ﬁrst ladies Failure to encourage the participation of children in this period of change is an opportunity lost.
“T Mark Kelly Contributor
he phrase ‘children’s rights’ is a slogan in search of definition … it does not yet reflect any coherent doctrine regarding the status of children as political beings. Asserting that children are entitled to rights and enumerating their needs does not clarify the difficult issues surrounding children’s legal status. These issues of family autonomy and privacy, state responsibility, and children’s independence are complex, but they determine how children are treated by the nation’s legislatures, courts, and administrative agencies.” Writing in the Harvard Educational Review on behalf of the Children’s Defense Fund in 1973, the year of its foundation, Hillary Rodham encapsulates here the perennial concerns of child rights advocates seeking to address the legal conception of children’s status. Her focus was on American public policy and case law. The intention here is not to analyse the thoughts of the then future first lady and US secretary of state. The concluding words to her article do, however, serve as the focal point of this article: “Without an increase in community involvement, the best drafted laws and most eloquent judicial opinions will merely recycle past disappointments.” It is an apparently universal phenomenon that adults experience children as representatives of both their mortality and their immortality. A focus on children’s rights serves in particular to address the bottom-up question: how do children experience adults? A lot has changed since Thomas Hobbes’s mid-seventeenth century publication of Leviathan. In one of the most influential philosophical treatises in human history, he proclaimed that “Over natural fools, children or madmen there is no law.” Today, thanks largely to the almost universal ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989), the concept of international children’s rights has undeniably come of age. This convention is the most widely-ratified human rights treaty in history and the first globally-binding treaty protecting children’s civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Ireland is one of 193 states to have ratified it. Given my own passion as a doctoral candidate focussed on an expository theory of children’s human rights, I should offer a brief introduction to my field. Theorising about the nature
and substance of rights is controversial terrain across which many competing contingencies stake their claims. Within the realm of children’s rights there are two central philosophical debates that wrestle with each other. The first of these is the “choice”, “will” or “agency” theory of rights. Based on the assumption that the individual in possession of rights will have a choice as to when and whether to exercise them, this theory suggests that rights flow from rationality, autonomy and power. Given children will not always be in a position to exercise choice competently, can they accurately be described as bearers of rights (as selfdetermining moral agents) in the first place? Competency is an essential strand of this theoretical outlook, so what of physically and mentally disabled adults? Should they also be denied the status of rights holder? The theory avoids this conclusion by conceding there may be “correlative” duties on parents/ adults and institutions to provide a remedy for those lacking the required competence to make their own choices. However, this compromise clearly fails to address the underpinning right of children to be cared for, nurtured and protected in the first place. Furthermore, what of those parents and institutions failing in their duties to protect? The choice theory’s presumption that such duties correlate seamlessly is problematic, particularly when we know from the considerable literature on child abuse it is frequently the case that the greatest threat to a child’s integrity comes from the parents and other close family members and friends. The “interest” theory of rights, meanwhile, seeks to address the limitations of the choice theory by placing emphasis on whether children have interests that require protection, rather than on the right holder’s capacity to claim or assert rights. Accordingly, society’s recognition of the need to provide children with care and protection is a sufficiently stable foundation upon which to construct an edifice of children’s rights. Some of these identified interests would then be translated into moral rights and a proportion of moral rights would in turn be granted the status of legal rights. Clearly it is possible to establish a hierarchy of interests, based on merit and importance, that society in general is likely to agree with. However, an in-
evitable uncertainty lies in deciding which of these interests should be elevated to the status of rights, why, and according to what criteria. Despite these difficulties the interest theory’s admirable aim is to ensure access to legal rights regardless of the level of competence a child can demonstrate in making choices. Law and its agents, including constitutional law and our supreme court justices (not to mention legislation and our elected representatives), cannot and should not be attributed with magical powers. The law does not establish relationships; it merely recognises them and provides an opportunity for them to develop. Contrary to negative notions propagated at every level of society, particularly by every manifestation of the media, human rights are not, in any pessimistic sense at least, selfish claims. At one level they can have meaning only in terms of a collectivity, as signifiers of relationships of equality. Children’s rights, on this basis, are fully equivalent to the rights of adults. Autonomy amounts to very little if a human being is isolated. Autonomy is therefore made possible by relationships and circles of responsibility towards one another, not through separation and the antagonistic pursuit of individualistic needs and wants. Professor Michael Freeman declared at the “Making Children Visible” conference held in Dublin this July that children’s rights need a noisy (nonviolent, of course) revolution to offset how children are conceived and treated as social constructs rather than individuals deserving of respect and dignity. Let us all get involved and play our part in the discussions needed to make this happen. Children as humanity’s hope for a better future are not merely “the living messages we send to a time we will not see” as expressed by Neil Postman, the American author, media theorist and cultural critic. Rather, we as children – past, present and future – are fully fledged human beings as well as human becomings entitled to the conditions necessary for a good life. As we await publication of the Fine Gael-Labour government wording and date for a referendum aimed at strengthening the rights, the protection, and place of children in Irish society, a human-oriented and democratic spirit is needed more than ever. Society will humanise itself not just through
its continued extolling of freedom, equality, or rationality. It also needs to open-heartedly embrace others in their full and resplendent difference and diversity; to celebrate, with cultural chutzpah, “otherness” so as to render society more humanly inclusive. Gandhi considered the best test of a civilised society to be the way in which it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members. In these times of potentially cataclysmic material and symbolic constitutional change in
Ireland, let us also take to heart the words of Nelson Mandela, echoing those of Gandhi: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” So how will Irish children experience adults in the coming months of debate? Every child, every human being has the right to respect. It has not been my intention here to offer specific suggestions but merely to urge Irish communities to engage. Failing to encourage
and embrace the equal social participation of children in this historic process of change is to reject an opportunity to contribute fruitfully to a society in which the views, experiences and dignity of all ages are respected. On this note, it is appropriate that the last word should go to another first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, whose oft-quoted sentiments, first expressed in 1958, are as relevant today as they have ever been: “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small
places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works [...] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
The Innocence of Islamophobia How the history of conﬂict between the United States and the Islamic world underwrites the present chaos.
T Ruarí Casey Deputy News Editor
he relationship between the United States and Islam, as portrayed in the media, ensures that everything happens on a grand scale. No action or insult is isolated, but rather is a mere symptom of the larger conflict between these two irreconcilable ideologies. Of course, there exists a long and complex history between the US and the Islamic world, a murky story of oil, political meddling and terrorism; but how does an insignificant film, screened to an audience of single digits and slated by critics, find its place here? By all accounts, “Innocence of Muslims” is a film whose intent lies far from artistic achievement. Its virulent attacks on Islam rank it with any number of propaganda pieces from early 20th-century Europe. But why has this film become so prominent? You don’t have to travel much farther than the comments section of most videos on YouTube to find ignorant and hateful rants against Islam. A quick image search online will result in countless offensive depictions of Muhammed. The answer is simple enough: manipulation of social media. The man who likely dubbed the film into Arabic is Morris Sadek, an American-Egyptian Cop-
tic Christian. It was through his blog and through an email campaign aimed at journalists worldwide that the YouTube videos (a trailer and some excerpts from the film) found its audience: not those who agree with its sentiment, but those whom it was sure to outrage. It was later broadcast on al-Nas, a hardline Islamic television channel in Egypt, furthering its reach. A man like Sadek clearly knows that a website like YouTube has great possibilities for the distribution of propaganda. In a manner not very different from a record label’s promotion of its next star (a more common use of new media), he’s made sure to open channels between his propaganda piece and an audience looking to fuel its hatred. Generalisations are another curse of US-Islamic relations, and it cannot be overstated that those who insist upon violent protests like we have seen over the last two weeks are a tiny minority. The majority have protested peacefully, expressing their distaste in a relatively dignified manner, or not at all. Only 1,000 of London’s 1m Muslims attended a protest in the city at which an American flag was burned. The minority, however, is not insignificant,
for extremism dominates the debate. There is a certain part of Islamic society which will take an example such as “Innocence of Muslims” and decry it as one more instance of the US’s prejudice against Islam and a reason for violence. That it was released independently, likely made by Egyptian Copts and roundly criticised within the US is no excuse. Nor is the government’s attempt to remove it from YouTube, for American society as a whole will accept the existence of this film, which they cannot. For Islamic extremists, it cannot be isolated from America’s foreign policy and preference for free expression over religiosity. The idea that America is wrong is paramount. There is, of course, a section of US society which provides a counterpart. Ignorance and intolerance of Islam is undoubtedly part of the political discourse in the US. Though violence is not too common, anti-Islamic sentiment is evident in conspiracy theories surrounding Obama’s true religion, protests at Ground Zero (of which Morris Sadek was a part) and the rants of many right-wing media personalities. Figures from the US’s Islamophobic community, often evan-
gelical Christians, have proven to be ardent supporters of “Innocence of Muslims”. Pastor Terry Jones of Florida, notable for his burning of Qur’ans, publicised the film and organised a screening on 11th September, as part of his "International Judge Mohammad Day”. In the US, we again see a minority, though not one without power to dictate the political discourse and drive religious hatred. This minority, like its Islamic counterpart, sees no isolated instances of violence but merely the vicious tendencies of a dangerous religion. For them, Islam is a menace, and they want everyone to know. Extremists on both sides have enough control over political discourse to distort how the media shows events, and how we view them. Unfortunately, products like “Innocence of Muslims” have a predictable and cyclic effect. They will incite outrage in the Islamic world, justifying violence for some, which in turn assures the US Christian right that its Islamophobic actions are vindicated. Thus another incident occurs, and the cycle begins again. Both sides feed off each other, to the detriment of any serious political debate. America’s relationship with
Moris Sadek at a protest in Washington the Islamic world is first and foremost defined by geopolitics in the Middle East. Money and political power rule are what drive events. The religious conflict which simmers beneath, continued only by a minority on either side and hyped by the media, serves only as a sideshow. The murder of the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, in Benghazi is now suspected to have been committed by Ansar al-Sharia,
an Islamist brigade with connections to al-Qaida. Behind the cover of a religious protest, there was, seemingly, a planned political assassination. Religious tensions will always muddy the political waters and prevent focus being brought on the more serious foundational issues between America and the Islamic world. These tensions will be used by those in power to manipulate masses of people for their own ends,
as we have seen for decades now. As religious extremism on both sides shows no sign of disappearing, we will have to acknowledge it as an important part of our political reality, but we must ensure that we do not forget, and that our media does not forget, the complex web of power, politics and economic policy which defines the US in relation to Islamic world.
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
Comment The era of student loans
Free market or free education?
It has begun, but it’s hard to know how popular the pilot programmes will be. David Barker
Can we leave our children’s futures in the invisible hands of the market?
“E Callum Jenkins Contributor
ducation, education, education.” These were the famous words of Tony Blair when describing his priorities in government. Politicians the world over tend to prioritize education due to its importance to the key electoral demographic group: the middle class. However, improving the education system tends to prove difficult and expensive. So, the question for politicians is how to raise educational achievement, or at least to appear to do so without drastically raising costs. Since the 1970s, the western world has been enamoured with the privatization of public services. In Ireland the free market has been introduced in areas such as transport, communications and many others. It is easy to see why it is attractive for governments: the free market reduces public expenditure and shifts any blame to private organisations. It is therefore natural that some corners of debate are pushing for the opening up of the education sector. The argument for introducing the free market to the education system is the same as for all attempts at privatisation. Privatisation leads to choice, meaning that students can “shop around” for the education that most suits them. This leads to the holy grail of free market economics: competition. This will supposedly increase the quality of education, as below-average teachers and institutions will fail to attract students, thus going out of business. This course of action is attractive, as it appears to reduce the burden on public finances. It goes without saying why this might be considered within certain political circles in the current climate. The attraction to the private sector is its ability to make profits by exploiting efficiency savings. However, will this lead to an education system that is better than the current publicly-funded one? To answer this question, we
must first decide what exactly the role of the education system is. If we suppose the intent is reproduction and continuation of the social classes that already exist within society, then privatization will drastically improve the education system. The free market only serves to strengthen pre-existing inequalities; it leads to a multitiered education system where the richest in society can afford the best possible schooling. This is a simple matter of supply and demand. As demand for the best schools rises, the price of attending such schools will also rise until only those who are able and willing will obtain places in such institutions. This will lead to top university places being dominated by those who have been able to afford the best possible education and who therefore achieve higher grades. A prime example of this is how English fee-paying schools provide roughly 41% of Oxbridge students when they only make up 18% of the population. By dominating top university places, the richest are able to better maintain their position in society. In another take on free market education, we could see privatized, for-profit universities. Such institutions are becoming more commonplace in the US, where students can leave university with huge debts that may follow them for life. This would only accentuate the problem, since students who are potentially very capable are excluded from third-level education on a purely financial basis. There is an argument that, through student loans, privatised universities could be an inclusive option. As mentioned, though, loans lead to massive debts that are an extraordinary disincentive to entering third-level education. Ironically, these situations stifle the free market as a whole, since the most capable within society are not able to reach their potential. The effect of this
is a level of economic growth well below society’s potential maximum. This is because education is seen by many economists as a so-called “merit good”. This means that education is a service which is beneficial for society but would be underconsumed in a free market environment. Thus, it is my opinion that the goal of the education system should not be to fortify or increase the social and economic inequalities that are already prevalent within society, for both economic and social reasons. What, then, is the role of education? I see it as a facilitator of meritocracy. A meritocracy is a society in which the most capable attain positions of power and influence within society. I believe a key role of education is to allow those with the greatest potential to climb the social ladder free from restrictions of sheer luck such as birth or family circumstances. Of course, meritocracy has become a buzzword for many political movements, both on the right and the left. However, few are willing to put it into real practice in the education system, as the uncomfortable truth is that upwards social mobility for the capable must lead to downward social mobility for the privileged but incapable. A system in which financial muscle is the ultimate determinant in the quality of one’s schooling can only lead to an increase in inequalities as has been seen in Sweden since the introduction of free market forces into their education system. Any system that widens the gulf between the rich and poor, or more accurately that between the middle class and the working class (since the middle class are more able and willing to pay for better schooling), can only be detrimental to the idea of a meritocratic society. The introduction of competition into the educational system does not lead to universal choice. Instead, it leads to some degree of choice that is reflec-
Deputy Comment Editor
The introduction of competition into the educational system does not lead to universal choice. Instead, it leads to some degree of choice that is reflective of personal wealth.
tive of personal wealth. The least well-off in society will have their choices restricted to what they can afford, in this context the worse schools. This will lead to a more polarised society, which in turn reduces social cohesion and will naturally heighten tensions within society, with one’s chances in life being largely determined by one’s birth. There is another crucial reason why I believe that any free market elements within the education system would be a dangerous step: deregulation of the curriculum would doubtless follow, which could lead to different schools teaching radically differing theories and ideas. For example, religiously-orientated schools could teach creationism over evolution. This removes accountability for what is taught, and leaves open the possibility of indoctrination of particular groups. Obviously this will hinder economic growth, as it is an unattractive investment of resources to have varying and differing views in education. More importantly, it could lead to a situation where schools could be chosen because they reinforce preconceived opinions instead of opinions informed by educated thought. This will lead to certain elements within societies becoming increasingly insular, which, in turn, will further reduce social cohesion. Yes, the education system needs a major overhaul in order to become a facilitator of meritocracy. There are still vast inequalities across different schools and areas. Working class pupils are already behind their peers upon entry into education, meaning that initiatives to open greater opportunities for the less privileged to enter third-level education (such as the grant) are often too late to be truly effective. However, I am a firm believer that the answer does not lie with the “invisible hand” of the free market.
Free market education offers choice amidst conformity
T David Barker Deputy Comment Editor
It might not be equal, but you’ve got options.
his year, like every other year, Trinity will see thousands of new students arrive at its campus to continue and further their education. As these students register and take their place in the college, we see the conclusion of over a month’s worth or debate and analysis on the state of education in Ireland. August and September regularly see discussions on the validity of the Leaving Cert, the merits of the CAO system and the status of third-level institutions. Trinity’s Provost entered into these discussions when he declared the CAO system flawed and declared his hopes that Trinity could pioneer new ways to evaluate entry into Irish colleges. Dr Prendergast echoed the views of many Irish educators in agreeing that the Leaving Cert and by extension the CAO System rewards rote learning rather than critical thinking. However, the Provost’s comments stood out as he went on to say that the CAO also does not succeed in matching students to the course that could suit them best and does not always capture the attributes best suited to third-level education. His solutions focused on broadening access routes to college, to maximise the system’s ability to recognise potential. I agreed wholeheartedly with the Provost’s criticisms and with his solutions but I couldn’t help but wonder whether it was all too late. While reforming the entry requirements to colleges in Ireland is obviously a positive step forward, it does not address the fact that students are choosing the wrong subjects for the Leaving Cert long before they are picking the wrong courses for college. More importantly, students are not being rewarded for their individual attributes or merits; rather, they are measured according to their ability to fit into the current system. Governments continuously attempt to change and alter systems but the essential problem is the existence of a broad, all-
encompassing system of education rather than just its latest incarnation. Whatever the change is – a move towards a greater oral focus in language courses; increasing problem-solving rather than pattern-spotting in maths courses – it will inevitably help some students and disadvantage others because different students have different aptitudes and will respond to different methods of teaching. So why not have different schools with different systems? Why do we accept the notion of a government monopoly on education? I would propose the introduction of a free market education system Ireland. This would not mean the absence of government from education; it would mean the presence of freedom for parents to choose how their child is educated. There is an educational debate taking place in America at the moment over the best way to teach children to read. Some educators insist on looksay methods of teaching and others on phonetic methods of teaching. This social issue has become, like many others in America, merely a political lightning rod for liberals and conservatives, conducting charged attacks. Both sides have produced studies and research detailing the merits of their preferred method of teaching. More importantly, both sides have presented children who have achieved better results after using one system or another. Why? Because some children respond better to sounds and other children respond better to sights. Free market education is often perceived as radical and dangerous. I find it hard to see that an idea so natural should seem so alien. Instead of one school teaching one system, why not two schools teaching two systems? Why not five schools teaching five systems? We hear all the time about how precious education is and how it can never be commodified, and yet we are happy to see child after child dragged through a system
as old as our grandparents with no critical thought for their development or potential. If you fit the system you will succeed, and if you do not, you won’t. That is the simple fact of education not only in Ireland but in most of the world. The hard work of individual students may reap benefits regardless of aptitude but a broad monopolised system will always cement advantages and disadvantages. Free market education is seen as a danger but there is no reason why, like any other industry in Ireland, it can’t be regulated and made conform to certain standards. What is more dangerous to education is forcing every child through the same mould. Why leave the best interests of students in Ireland to the government? Do we not think that parents could do a better job? I think most people would agree with free market education in its purest ideological form. The difficulties arise in its practical implementation and the economic impact it will have. There is one group of people who benefit the most from any kind of free market: the rich. The argument continuously levied against free market education is that it is an elitist idea that will lead to better education for the rich and inferior education for the poor. Not only is this an inaccurate generalisation of what a free market could bring to education, it is in fact an accurate description of the current system of education in Ireland. Health and education are not commodities – unless you have money. If you are a student from a family of means in Ireland, lucky enough to have parents willing to invest in your education, you will receive a better education than the state provides. Free market education is already in place in Ireland, just not for everybody. Private schools, fee-paying schools and grind schools exist throughout the country. Some parents can afford grinds or revision books for their children, others cannot. Students across
Instead of one school teaching one system, why not two schools teaching two systems? Why not five schools teaching five systems?
the country supplement their state education with private education because parents feel that the government cannot sufficiently prepare students for an exam that they design. In the current system it is clear that the poor already suffer and receive inferior results. Free market education would see the people with more money receive higher standards of teaching, but unfortunately the current system already sees this happen anyway. The system I am proposing would not produce a two-tier education system; it would produce a multi-tier education system with the opportunity for even the lowest tier to be of a higher standard than the entire country uniformly experiences now. Unless private education is outlawed, the rich will be able to afford better education than the poor. Under the prevailing system, the rich will be able to afford better anything than the poor. What free market education allows is for education to become more efficient. An open market with different kinds of schools gives parents the opportunity to choose a school that benefits their child, thus making the means of education more productive. Being in a school that suits your abilities and caters to your aptitudes allows students to achieve with a greater level of ease. Education becomes more efficient as students are taught in the manner to which they best respond. This also makes it easier for students to determine the best subjects to choose, the best ways to study and somewhere down the line the best college course to pick. Free market education is not an equal system but it does provide choice. Despite currently employing a governmentregulated “fair” system in this country, many students did not have the choice to go to college for purely financial reasons. As long as rich and poor exist education can never be equal, but it can be more efficient.
After months of negotiation between College authorities, the Bank of Ireland and the Students’ Union, it seems as if Trinity has taken the first step towards reforming the current fees system. This summer saw the announcement that Trinity along with Bank of Ireland have launched a new loan scheme designed to ease the strains of the ever-increasing student contribution fee. Students who avail of the loan can expect to face seven years of repayments subject to 5% interest throughout their time in College before that figure rises to 9.7% as they finish. This roughly equates to a cost of €100 per month during a student’s time in College and €156 per month for the three years following graduation. All in all, by the time this loan is paid off, interest will have accumulated to between €1800 and €2250. The college plans to introduce this new scheme by offering a watered-down version to a group of 300 students who will pay back the loan over a shorter period of time and with lower rates of interest. It is hard to see the merits of such an exercise, however, when these initial students will pay
SU needs to look responsibly at the notion of fastening graduates with high rates of monthly debt throughout the formative years of their financial independence. Graduates can expect to face €156 a month worth of repayments while those seeking postgraduate courses could face up to €220 a month. We know already that the Bank of Ireland do not predict or expect this initiative to be lucrative, so why not lobby to introduce a break in repayments between the initial four years of undergraduate repayments and the subsequent higher interest payments after graduation? A one- or even two-year break in payments would allow students to get on their feet financially and not have their immediate graduate life dictated by debt. Surely even the Bank of Ireland can see some gain from this as they are indeed the ones hoping to profit in the future from our continued business. How likely is a recent Trinity graduate to accept an unpaid but highly beneficial internship when they are battling with 9.7% interest repayments? With that being said this scheme has to be viewed as a
A one- or even two-year break in payments would allow students to get on their feet financially and not have their immediate graduate life dictated by debt. half of what the actual finalised scheme will demand. This scheme marks the first concrete effort towards drastic change in how students pay their contribution fees. And while Trinity should be applauded for pioneering any kind of reform it does somewhat seem as if we settled very early for a very shallow solution. There is an ever-widening gap between those students who qualify for grant relief and those who can afford to pay registration fees. As these fees increase year on year we see more and more students fall into this gap and these are the students for whom this new loan scheme should be of benefit. The Bank of Ireland has said that it does not expect the student loan initiative to be a profitable venture; rather they see it as way to secure the business of a large portion of Trinity students. With this being said it is hard to see how the proposed rates of interest were designed and how much say the TCDSU had in arranging terms such as the length of repayment. Outgoing TCDSU president Ryan Bartlett described the loan scheme as “a creative option to ease the problems of student financing”. I fail to see how in any way this option is creative. Yes, there has been a conscious and real effort to aid student financing, but hardly a creative one. The scheme itself is back-loaded with a bulk of repayments – nearly twice the size in interest as previously payable – due in a shorter period of time. To my mind this highlights a lack of creativity. Spreading these payments out further after graduation or perhaps even introducing an option of deferral would be a creative manoeuvre towards allowing students some financial freedom after college. Seeing as parents have to guarantee all loans offered in this scheme and that the income earning capacity of students is significantly reduced during college terms we can assume that parents will play a large – if not entire – role in handling monthly repayments. The same cannot be said for repayments due after graduation. The TCD-
positive one. While I can’t believe that this is a creative option, it certainly is an option. The merit of such a system of student financing is that it is not one that affects all students. Students who can still afford to pay the contribution charge are free to do so. Unlike proposed options we have faced in the past, such as 100% upfront fees or a graduate tax, this option is one that can benefit those that need to avail of it and be of no consequence to those who don’t. While there will always be students left out or not aided by a solution to student financing, this looks to be one that significantly reduces that number. So while we can assume that rates of interest and length of repayment are unlikely to be changed post-announcement, we still can look for some key issues to be cleared up by our college authorities and students’ union. We have heard a lot of details illuminating the financial side of this scheme but not a lot on how this affects true college students. For instance, who will this loan be offered to? Will other loans and credit history be taken into account? A large portion of college students currently maintain loans on fees, cars, holidays etc. Whether or not these loans could stand to affect eligibility must be answered. How will this loan be transferred throughout deferred, Erasmus and repeat years? Until these questions are answered it is impossible to gauge how all-encompassing and even worthwhile this new loan scheme will be. The key question left unanswered is how popular this scheme will actually be. Announced during the summer break it will be hard to render student opinion until we are well into the college term. Maybe the TCDSU announcement that fees can now be paid in two instalments – before the college term begins and after Christmas – will prove to be more enticing than paying back interest. Either way it is encouraging to see it widely recognised that the current system does not work and has to be changed. Is the option offered a creative one? No, but it’s a start.
The Loan Scheme by the Numbers
7 5% 9.7% €100 €156
years of repayment interest for 4yrs in college
interest for 3yrs after college a month in college
a month for 3 years after college
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
What can we learn from the Quebec student movement? Sally Rooney Contributor After Quebec’s election this 4th September, it seems students have been successful in their attempts to halt the proposed increase in university tuition fees. The protests staged this year have been called the largest acts of civil disobedience in Canadian history, involving almost half a million demonstrators and attracting media attention across the world. Now the Liberal party proposing the hike has been ousted, and its party leader Jean Charest – premier of Quebec since 2003 and firm opponent of the protests – has resigned. Student organisations across the world, including our own Union of Students in Ireland (USI), are already looking to the region for answers: so what can we learn from our counterparts in Quebec? It’s important to bear in mind the region’s rich history of protest. From the “Quiet Revolution” of the 1960s, in which Francophone citizens demanded access to education as part of a series of reforms, Quebec’s residents have maintained a tradition of grassroots political activism. But after failed student strikes in the 80s and 90s, the core student federations in the region became reluctant to mobilise against further fee hikes. As a result, new student organisations formed to fight education cuts: among them, the radical force behind this year’s demonstrations, the Coalition large de l'Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (Classe).
I Daniel Brown Guest Contributor
Daniel Brown is a journalist and activist living in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
In July of this year I had the chance to meet former Quebec premier Jean Charest (pictured above), the man at the centre of Quebec’s “maple spring”. It was only two months since he had promoted the widely criticised bill 78, which restricted freedom of assembly and protest. The premiers of the provinces and territories of Canada headed to my city of Halifax in the Maritime provinces to discuss healthcare, government transfers and energy policy. I’m a recent graduate of a small liberalarts university and, although passionate about my field, I was also fulfilling the stereotype by working two part-time jobs clearing tables in restaurants. We’d had a few notables in our restaurant in the past; it's a rustic sort of place with oysters, candles and scotch. It attracts the elite of the Maritimes and rich Texans looking for an “authentic” experience of eastern Canada. I hadn’t expected to be told that I’d need to meet security that day when I arrived at work. Most of the premiers had little security, save Charest and Premier Alison Redford (the Albertan who presides over the world’s third largest oil reserves). I was curtly instructed on the dos and don’ts of meeting the premiers. I had been a student of politics, philosophy and sustainability, and spent a considerable amount of time organizing demonstrations and actions during my time in university. I spent my free time pressuring and protesting the increasing exclusivity and inaccessibility of post-secondary education. Much of our effort had been aimed at simply trying to organize meetings, and to be taken seriously if such a meeting occurred. All that time spent, and the premier of Quebec simply comes and sits at my table. To give some context, the Quebec student strike grabbed and held international media attention this spring. Images of hundreds of thousands of students and professors marching down the streets of Montreal clogged my Facebook feed and could be found from the BBC to al-Jazeera and the Huffington Post. The imagery turned ugly in the following weeks, when the photos of peaceful young people wearing little red squares turned into photos of little red bricks sailing towards cars and police. Provincial students’ associations such as the Coalition large de l'Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (Classe) had gone on strike over an increase in tuition of $325 (€259). At its zenith, over 250,000 students had gone on strike in Quebec. Charest was at the centre of all this. The situation became more intense when bill 78 was proposed and passed in May of this year. Described by the hacktivist group Anonymous
as “draconian”, it imposed legal limits on how, where and for how long groups could protest in Quebec. Steep fines for individuals, and particularly associations, were a major deterrent. Preparing to welcome the premiers, I had a bit of a crisis. Here is the man whose policies were the target of the largest student strike in Canadian history. He invoked laws that infringed on civil rights, and presided over a police force that had unjustifiably injured a number of my friends. What was I to do? What could I do? I was simply an assistant waiter, a busser; ruining his pants with an overturned bowl of mussels would hardly achieve much. I kept sweating as I thought how the law had been galvanizing students, civil rights groups, and people of all genders, ages, and races in Quebec and across Canada. A movement called “les casseroles” (the saucepans) had emerged. The YouTube video “Les Casseroles” went viral across the country, artfully showing thousands of people peacefully walking the streets clanging pots and pans. Each evening, families and students were clanging pots and pans together from their doors to protest the infringement of their civil liberties. This aspect of the movement, however, never made it to the international headlines. Only a note was made in the Canadian press, and few spoke to the success or non-violence of les casseroles. I attended similar marches here in Halifax, on the east coast, with friends clanging in solidarity in Vancouver, on the west. That night, the busser-versus-Goliath battle was one I eschewed. Since that point, however, events in Quebec have unfolded quickly and with some turmoil. Charest has lost his position as premier. In fact, he has lost his seat entirely, and has resigned from politics. On 1 August he called a provincial election to take place on 4 September. Pauline Marois, of the nationalist Parti Québécois, defeated Charest by a narrow margin and has promised to repeal both bill 78 (now called Law 12) and the proposed tuition increase. Student groups framed the election as a showdown between students and their government. Gabriel Dubois, when stepping down from the leadership of Classe, wrote that his greatest regret was that “Jean Charest is still leading Quebec, a premier who is contemptuous and violent towards Quebec and its youth.” So Charest has been ousted from power. Tens of thousands of students in the streets, the occupation of public and university buildings, the broad disapproval of Bill 78, the police tactics and the monthly mega manifestations (mass strikes) all contributed to his
Here in front of me is the man whose policies were the target of the largest student strike in Canadian history. What was I to do?
removal. But just how much did the striking students influence the vote? The margin for Marois’s victory was slim, the Parti Québécois beating the Liberal party by only 0.73% of the vote and commanding just under 32% of the seats in the Quebec parliament. They are now a minority government, relying on the co-operation of other smaller parties to pass legislation. Pauline Marois has her own political platform, which includes pressuring the federal government and extending language laws in her own province. These issues in their own right were fiercely debated, creating their own tensions. Marois was shot at during her acceptance speech. Two people were killed. The gunman, after setting fire to a corner of the room, announced in French that “the English speakers are waking up.” There is much more to a nationalist electoral victory in Quebec than tuition fees. In the coming weeks the impact of the maple spring will be better understood. Despite assurances that Charest’s tuition agenda has been annulled, Classe – the more radical of the three students' unions involved in the campaign – is still planning a demonstration for 22 September. Dubois, in his resignation letter, detailed shale gas, health taxes and corruption cases as other necessary issues that justified his call for Charest’s immediate resignation. It's likely that these also influenced the vote. The student strike, although a fine case study on how to organize and advance a movement, also created divides between protesting and nonprotesting students. It created tension along French- and English-language lines, and between business groups and civil-rights groups. We don’t know how many people voted in support of students, and it is possible that a similar number voted against them due to the divides created. Polls before the election indicated that many may have been entirely ambivalent to the students, and cast their votes along issues of language or nationality. Whatever the case with voter intentions, the students' unions gamble on aligning themselves with the Parti Québécois seems to have paid off. Léo BureauBlouin (leader of another students' union, the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec) won a seat in Canada's national assembly in the elections, becoming the youngest representative in the assembly's history at 20 years of age. Unlike Bureau-Blouin, most of those involved in the great maple spring are now heading back to classes with what looks like a significant victory. The movement, however, is likely to be far from finished.
Although founded in December 2011 to fight the fee proposals, Classe is no single-issue protest group; instead, it’s a radical anti-capitalist movement calling for the full abolition of college fees. It remains independent of the region’s more conservative federations of unions, FEUQ and FECQ, but its growing popularity with individual college bodies helped to bring those larger organisations into the struggle. As hundreds of thousands of students joined the fight against the proposed hike, Classe reached out to labour unions and neighbourhood communities for broader support. Crucially, when the Liberal government tried to exclude Classe from negotiations, the more moderate student groups walked out too, keeping the front united. Classe have been careful not
to portray their electoral victory as simply a local educational issue, and indeed to distance themselves from traditional student ties to the sovereigntist movement in Quebec. In their manifesto (available on their English-language website,vvvhttp://www. stopthehicke.ca stopthehike. ca), they call attention to a variety of political issues, among them the exploitation of the region’s natural resources: “The primary victims of this wholesale sell-off”, it reads, “are Native women, far from the media, poor and easily ignored.” In an interview with truth-out.org on 7th September, Classe representative Jérémie Bédard-Wien stated: “The tendency within Classe right now is more to the internationalisation of our struggle and of the ideas that we defend.” The idea of internationalisation has been an attractive one for student unions across the world, who identify Classe’s story as a potential template for their own. Understandably, the USI is regarding the Quebec elections as a model victory for students. The USI’s media officer, Ronan Costello, told Trinity News that the union has already contacted Quebec’s student leadership to “discuss their strategy and tactics”; in his words, “Classe has shown that campaigns organised by national student organisations can have a very real effect.” It makes sense for national organisations like the USI to link themselves with Classe in an effort to align their struggles. Both are democratic student organisations protesting fee hikes; both have the potential, then, to be effective political players. But the USI’s approach differs unmistakeably from that of Classe: after all, Classe isn’t even officially affiliated with the region’s larger federations, FECQ and FEUQ. In fact, Classe intentionally and specifically extends its manifesto beyond student politics to address a broader anti-capitalist ethos and call for “combative syndicalism”. If these radical roots underlie the success of Quebec’s students, it’s unlikely to be replicated by the USI or Britain’s National Union of Students (NUS), umbrella organisations that work within the confines of state institutions. The USI, after all, holds a seat on the board of Ireland’s Higher Education Authority; it’s difficult to imagine Classe doing likewise. And even for Quebec’s students, the future is uncertain. Though
the Liberal party behind the tuition hike saw their percentage of the popular vote drop lower than at any point since the 19th century, the alternatives may not be ideal. The party currently leading the region’s new minority government, Parti Québécois (PQ), promised to scrap the Liberals’ plans for a tuition hike, but they’re far from the pro-student activists Classe might prefer. While PQ politicians may have sported the red square – a symbol of Classe’s protest – during the height of popular support for the strikes, their platform favours indexing tuition to inflation, meaning it will continue to increase. As ever, the general election was a complex one – engaging with current movements for independence in regions like Scotland and Catalonia – and even student leaders in Quebec don’t consider it a referendum on fees. Now, with a new minority government struggling to find its feet, accurate policy forecasts are nigh-on impossible. Student organisations everywhere have reasons to congratulate Classe. But any fair reading of Quebec’s protests will remind us of the difference between government-sanctioned union federations like those in Ireland and the UK, and the radical grassroots organisations who are credited with this success. If there are lessons to be learned from Quebec’s example, they are more likely deep and structural lessons than those simply of “strategies and tactics”. Though the USI’s seat at the educational policy table is in many ways enviable, it serves as a clear delineation between its kind of power and that of Classe: but it’s likely, as in Quebec, that both are necessary for change. Meanwhile, the newfound identification of unions around the world with the students behind Classe is telling. Like any other community, it seems, student organisations love a success story. Now, in many ways, the party’s over, and the coming months are likely to bring new challenges for Quebec’s students. Our own union of students was happy to declare their solidarity with the doggedly idealist student strikes in their moment of victory; let’s hope they have the courage to preserve that solidarity if the conditions should prove more adverse than they thought.
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
Richrad Henry Bain on his way to court.
Quebec; student solidarity, nationalist division
T Hannah Cogan Public Editor
wo weeks ago, Richard Henry Bain stormed the Parti Québécois (PQ) headquarters as the newly-elected premier of Quebec, Pauline Marois, celebrated her victory. He killed one man and injured two others before setting fire to the building. As police restrained the suspect, he yelled, in French, “The English are waking up!” and then, in English, “It’s payback time!” The drama took place within a context of language tensions, with the PQ platform calling for sovereignty for Quebec and a radicalisation of Frenchlanguage and secularism laws. As a province, Quebec’s infrastructure and governance has suffered in the pursuit of the separatist agenda. Now, as the PQ begins to radicalise, their success in September’s election endangers moderate Québécois and their dialogue with English Canada. Quebec’s endemic
corruption can be traced partly to the Parti governments of the 80s and 90s, which significantly expanded the scope of government to procure independence. “In Quebec, it’s usually a case of old-fashioned graft,” says Andrew Stark, a business ethics professor at the University of Toronto. “The state occupies a more prominent role, and people in the private sector rely on the state for appointments or contracts, so they make political contributions to do so. In the rest of the country, it’s reversed: it’s people in public office using public money to give themselves private-sector-style perks.” But the factor most important to this history of corruption may be Quebec’s nagging existential question of whether to remain part of the country. As a less wealthy province, Quebec is entitled to equalisation payments from Canada’s federal government.
According to many on the left and right, Quebec’s existential question has come at the expense of proper transparency and accountability. Éric Duhaime, a former Action démocratique du Québec candidate who helped launch the right-of-centre Réseau LibertéQuébec, has observed, “We are so obsessed by the referendum debate that we forget what a good government is, regardless if that government is for or against the independence of Quebec.” Quebec’s aspirations to good government and indeed good infrastructure are crumbling. Partly-finished highways and dual carriageways, begun in the early 90s as the infrastructure of an independent Quebec, begin and end randomly. A series of bridge and overpass collapses have claimed lives and considered evidence of an endemic
corruption problem; overpaid, sub-standard building work defines municipal and provincial projects. Quebec’s healthcare system, costing nearly 45% of the province’s operating costs, is in desperate financial trouble, while the PQ opposes federal assistance as a challenge to Quebec’s sovereignty. The passenger terminal at Montréal-Mirabel international airport, intended to be the flight hub of a free Quebec with an annual capacity of 50 million passengers and built at a cost of just over $2bn (€1.57bn) adjusted, now stands dormant and unused. Unable to attract customers or airlines, it closed its doors and is now completely vacant. The Parti Québécois increasingly relies on fostering extremist separatism to guarantee their support. Pauline Marois will head the next government, but with only 54
members of the national assembly – nine short of a majority – and only 31.9% of the vote, one of the lowest election results in its history. As the first PQ leader to anchor her party absolutely to the left, she broke significantly from the tradition of building a large coalition of centre-right and centre-left separatists. She bluntly informed “conservative separatists” that they should join the right-leaning Coalition Avenir Quebec, who oppose any attempt at separation before Quebec’s economic security can be guaranteed. Conversely, Marois is also the first Québécois leader to play on the province’s identity crisis with ruthless zeal. Her platform included the extreme radicalisation of Quebec’s language laws, and, under the guise of secularism, restrictions on religious and cultural practices that have
sparked charges of racism and xenophobia. Quebec’s historical and cultural identity is fracturing, and in recent years the separatist movement has had to lean on a “French” identity to foster cultural cohesiveness, ignoring a huge contemporary Anglophone community and a history of colonization by Scottish and Irish families that long predates France. Marois has refused to engage with Quebec’s anglophones throughout her election campaign. According to a Léger Marketing survey, 73% of francophones and 79% of anglophones want Marois to meet anglophone leaders as soon as possible to calm language tensions; she shows little willingness to do so. The PQ was founded in the 60s as a reaction to legitimate grievances: the marginalisation of French Canadians and systematic discrimination. The trajectory of the PQ increas-
The importance of being earnest
W Megan Nolan Guest Columnist
ho knows, by the time this column reaches you, what Bret Easton Ellis will have denounced on Twitter? What golden calf will he have effortlessly slayed with the verve of an alive Christopher Hitchens? Here, after all, is a man who has made the time to efficiently do away with the entire concept of female film directors in under 140 characters. Here is a man who named "Hall Pass", a film in which the viewer is indulgently invited to laugh at a woman defecating unwillingly in a bath, the finest comedy of 2011. I can see him now, hunched at the breakfast bar of what I can only imagine is an impressively chrome kitchen, vomiting up bon mots for the world to gasp at, his moisturised fingers jabbing the glowing tablet before him furiously, soundlessly. Last week, it was the turn of fellow novelist David Foster Wallace, who took his own life in 2008, to bear the brunt of Ellis' satisfyingly disproportionate wrath, with Ellis venting at length, including the following; "David Foster Wallace was so needy, so conservative, so in need of fans--that I find the halo of sentimentality surrounding him embarrassing". For the aficionado of the literary dispute, those of us who have seen out more than one dawn trawling through antagonistic Norman Mailer correspondence with kittenish glee, this is hot stuff. (I say this to falsely imply I do not read Grazia magazine, and am qualified to write about books.) The rant was inspired by his
reading of the excellent new DFW biography, Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story by D.T. Max. The rivalry between the two has roots from decades ago, though one might have hoped Ellis would have set it aside following Wallace's death. They came to prominence nearly simultaneously, with Ellis' Less Than Zero sparking a bidding war upon arrival in 1985, and Wallace's first novel The Broom of the System making it onto the same publisher's desk the following year. Less Than Zero was written with the jaded minimalism which would come to characterise Ellis' work and that of Jay McInerney and the rest of the unimaginatively titled "literary brat pack". The louche, ironic vibe of the prose, as well as the general entitled douchebaggery of those responsible, meant the style of the movement was left open to critical mockery and easily parodied. Mother slides her Dior sunglasses on, her tan thin hands shaking from the noon martinis; beside the pool the children argue over who got the coke wet, etc. By contrast, Foster Wallace's work was vast and comfortable with its own ambition. The editor of both works, Gerald Howard, said of The Broom of the System, "here was a big, brainy throwback to the imperial novels of the Great White Postmodernists — Barth and Coover and Gaddis and DeLillo and especially Pynchon". There is much to admire and cringe at in both books; in either case the flaws usually having to do with an unwanted glimpse at the
ingly resembles that of the Tea Party movement in America; those genuine political grievances harnessed to polarise an electorate and undercut political moderates, pursuing an agenda that, whilst populist on paper, actually offers very few people the advantages they expect. By failing to tackle endemic corruption, refinance a failing infrastructure, or consider necessary reductions in the budget, the Parti Québécois have endangered the prosperity of the citizens the claim to represent. Separatism is an opiate for these problems, but, as moderates desert the PQ, their vision for Quebec’s future – one with stringent language laws and a ban on non-Catholic religious wear – is unsettling. Their election is a travesty for anglophone and francophone communities alike.
sick and all it could ever produce was child rape and snuff movies! When I read Less Than Zero now,it seems childish to me; narrow minded and pointlessly nihilistic self indulgence. Yes, things are strange and worrisome and the Western world violently consumptive, but merely rattling off depravities isn't particularly insightful or creative. If you are cynical, and believe the world to be essentially sadistic and beyond hope, then reading a book which is sadistic and without hope will seem very fresh and accurate to you. If you want your diagnosis of the world's toxic materialism confirmed with a pat on the head, you will never have very far to look. Lets also not discount the option of getting that Fight Club quote about your things eventually owning you, or something, tattooed on your arm.
David Foster Wallace boundless arrogance and insecurity of brilliant young writers. Wallace's future girlfriend, the writer Mary Karr, says that she hated TBOTS and thought it "one of the worst books ever written", that it served only to point to how broadly the author had read, and not to create feeling in the reader. This was a criticism Wallace took seriously, and battled with.
His friend Jonathan Franzen has spoken about their shared struggle to reconcile the desire for intellectual and linguistic achievements with an honest endeavour to communicate with and stir the reader. We can see the return to a more realist approach in many popular literary novelists like Franzen, Jeffrey Eugenides and Dave Eggers. It seems to be this which has so enraged
Bret Easton Ellis, who criticises the "fake-earnest Midwestern "sincerity" of David Foster Wallace", and those who admire and replicate it. If we are to turn from the earnestness which so disgusts him, what are we left with? Ellis' work and his shtick in general were attractive to me as a teenager. I first read American Psycho at thirteen, eyes wide at the
glib gore and oblivious to the irony. I read it again at twenty, when it left me rather more amused but feeling curiously duped. I read Less Than Zero at sixteen and envied the fatigued beautiful idiots their glamorous misery and duly shook my head with knowing disapproval at the child rape which made up its denouement. Truly this was the way of the world! Humans were sick and the culture was
As someone who has known (too) many Trinity English undergraduates in my time, I do understand why one would tire of hearing DFW tearfully lauded. The proclivity toward ellipses. The footnotes. The seemingly endless supply of photographs of him wearing bandanas and massive coats. But, for any shortcomings, it seems more admirable and more urgent to focus on the parts of life which are unchanging, on the things about us which remain human and driven by the need for one another; to address the work of the novelist toward these things at the cost of irony and, perhaps, a complete lack of sentimentality. I err on the side of the earnest in most things these days, even if I run the risk of falseearnest sometimes.
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
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Tuesday 18th of September 2012
O Rónán Burtenshaw Editor
n Thursday last, Trinity News published on its website an article which attracted considerable controversy and criticism. I will use this space to answer what I consider to be the two most prominent themes of this criticism. Firstly, there is the question of the article’s accuracy. We have reviewed our records of the interviews conducted pursuant to the story, and remain convinced that these were represented accurately. In addition, I have seen the documentary evidence referenced in the article. I am satisfied that it was conveyed honestly and without distortion. Trinity News stands behind the journalism in this article; it was carried out in a professional manner and reasonable care was taken in checking facts before publica-
tion. The second question surrounds whether the article was in the public interest and, on that basis, appropriate for publication. This issue was discussed internally among members of our senior editorial staff before its publication, which I approved. TN understands that the public-interest value of a story should be weighed against concerns of individual privacy. In this instance, I made the decision that the public-interest value justified its publication because of the individual’s representative position and the serious nature of the situation as conveyed to us by Trinity TV. The situation had deteriorated to the degree that those involved in the committee were not sure that the society was going to be able to continue this year. Their allegations, as quoted in the article, were that
this was because of individual acts of dishonesty. My decision was not influenced by other motivations. Should Trinity News be made aware of a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distorted report, it will be corrected promptly and with due prominence; or, in a case where it would be the appropriate response, we will print an apology or retraction. However, we do not expect this situation to arise. This has not been a pleasant experience for any of the parties involved, and the publication of the article was not something that was done with relish. But this is the rule rather than the exception in student journalism. Due to the compact nature of the College community, those printing articles are often acquainted with those being reported on, and those
reading articles are in similar positions. But these personal relationships are not reasons to eschew journalism in favour of public relations. Neither do I, as editor, believe that it is appropriate to refuse to cover stories that make people uncomfortable. Nor that students and whatever mistakes they might make should be ignored or allowed to pass, as has been argued within student publications on many occasions over my four-year involvement with the industry. TN is a student newspaper and must cover student issues. Within that context, an article should not be held back from publication if it can be established that it is in the public interest. To do so would reduce student journalism to a triviality and Trinity News to something more closely approaching an advertorial.
The Broad Canvas
T Rónán Burtenshaw Editor
he continuing dispute over contracts of indefinite duration and compulsory redundancy emphasises the importance of a broad-canvas approach to political issues as austerity continues to turn the screw on the state and on public services. The Croke Park agreement is not legally-binding. It is, however, the foundation underpinning relative social tranquillity while spending cuts, salary freezes and tax increases are implemented to repay privatesector debts nationalised in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008-09. It is the unambiguous opinion of the government, the agreement’s implementation body, the labour court and public service unions that it guarantees the workers laid off in Trinity the right to reinstatement. If Croke Park is to persist, then it isn’t sustainable for Trinity College to refuse to abide by its requirements, as established by the aforementioned bodies. However, College’s position in this case is not unreasonable. They have already implemented significant cuts, probably to the extent that they believe is possible without seriously impacting the quality of education in Trinity. A case could be made for cutting pay to senior academics, especially given that their current position
amounts to picking which parts of the Croke Park agreement they will follow and which they will not. Public discourse has recently been flooded with calls for reductions in the pay of public servants earning over €100,000, particularly those in academia. Certainly, managerial culture and the marketisation of the public service has led to some unjustifiable situations. For instance, the payment of a €232,000 annual salary to a university president in Cork (whose level of competence didn’t extend to understanding the crocodile tears inherent in talk of the “challenges” facing those making nearly a quarter of a million) has not met with a favourable response. This is a country where nearly one in four people lives with two forms of enforced deprivation. Apparently, if he’d moved across the water, he’d have doubled his salary and got a Jaguar. Meritocracy, eh? Libération responded to France’s richest man emigrating to avoid high tax rates with a front page inviting him to “get lost”. One wishes Ireland had a similarly assertive press. Despite this, it remains the case that most exhortations to cut top academics’ pay come from those whose interests lie in using it as a Trojan horse to undermine the Croke Park agreement in its entirety. They realise what Ireland’s unions,
high on the evaporated glories of the social partnership era, don’t: there is no way to maintain the Croke Park agreement, the welfare state and decent public services on the current trajectory. They’re betting that Croke Park, which protects the salaries and working conditions of public servants subject to a media campaign of vilification, is the low-lying fruit. And they’re probably right. College may lose this battle. But, unless there’s a significant change of path in Irish politics, those making their arguments – that we should prioritise protection of public services (particularly those, like higher education, which most matter to the middle-classes) over salaries – are going to win out. But these aren’t the questions we should be asking. They’re false choices. Those in powerful positions have enjoyed considerable success in narrowing the spectrum of acceptable political discourse. They have navigated the cynical embrace of immediacy from crisis to crisis without ever landing on the shore of ideological or systemic questions. Why should the state repay privately-accrued gambling debts at the expense of funding public services? And why should debts be repaid by cutting services and wages at all, when the combined wealth of the richest 1% of Ireland’s population (€130bn) is roughly equivalent to our total national
debt? The reason that these questions are systematically avoided is that they would force us to analyse the basics of our political regime. There’s been a lot of falsely mutual rhetoric – “We’re all in this together”, “Everyone’s had to take a hit”, etc – but to what extent do we really emphasise the social over the individual? To what extent does our state imbue us with equality, and to what extent does it reinforce relationships of power and control? How much power rests in the popular, and how much in the private? And what does this say about the nature of our democracy? If you’re a college student at the moment, you’re part of a generation that has seen historic political turmoil. If you’re one of our incoming freshers, you’re at the vanguard of a generation who was promised the world during the Celtic Tiger period before being introduced to a future as full of unemployment and emigration as that of their parents and grandparents. It has never been more important to maintain a broadcanvas approach to politics and to ask fundamental questions, because the effects of policies profoundly influenced by freemarket ideological preferences will increasingly affect your day-to-day life, including the quality of education you receive in this university.
Black and White and Red all over
O Hannah Cogan Public Editor
n 15th August the full staff of the Red & Black, the student newspaper at the University of Georgia, walked out of their offices to protest new editorial structures and guidelines. In a formal statement, the editor-in-chief, Polina Marinova, said the paper had been “feeling serious pressure from people who aren’t students”, citing incentives to take “grip and grin” photos and publicise student initiatives. Since the beginning of August, some ten non-student staff members had been hired by the board of the paper to “assist” in the production of the Red & Black, and a number of staff members claimed their stories had been edited, re-written, or censored altogether in the interest of improving public perception of the university. The paper itself receives no support from the university, financing itself primarily through ad sales. The strike itself was interesting, but not particularly newsworthy. The story was picked up by the New York Times, Slate, and a number of media blogs when Ed Stamper, a former chairman of the board recently promoted to “editorial director”, sent a memo to all student editorial staff entitled “Expectations of Editorial Director at The Red & Black”. Stamper laid out the criteria for acceptable content thus: “The newspaper needs a balance of good and bad. BAD
content that catches people or organizations doing bad things. I guess this is ‘journalism’. If in question, have more GOOD than BAD.” Allowed to function as true newspapers with no prescribed allegiance, student media is incredibly important. Student journalists and their editors too often make the mistake of trying to copy national media, which fails on two levels: students aspiring to work in newspapers don’t learn to research and develop stories on their own, while student papers, devoid of stories interesting or relevant to their readers, fail to serve the interests of colleges and universities as a whole. I’m very proud to be on the staff of Trinity News, but I don’t care about their coverage of the American election, because CNN will tell me first. The stories of value to me as a reader are college-based, with information I won’t find anywhere else. As a writer, writing an article that paraphrases the BBC news in brief is of no practical benefit. Student papers function best when they’re scaled to the colleges that produce them and are allowed to function as real, provocative news sources. Student journalism will never be perfect or infallible. We’re students, we’re learning, and sometimes we screw up, with far more frequency than we’d like to mention. In our heads, we’re writing the stories that will change the
world. In actuality, we’re half a deadline away from libel and inclined to mix our metaphors. Responding to a Facebook post, Red and Black board member Charles Russell suggested the changes were an improvement to training student journalists, stating, “What we’ve done at the board level, is authorize significant new expenditures from reserves to more fully deliver on our training mission, by providing the support staff to help the students learn how to juggle multiple media initiatives successfully – all while staying focused on why they’re in Athens in the first place: to get their education.” Suggesting that students would benefit from being more detached from their news sources and stories displays a profound misunderstanding of the importance of college newspapers: they serve a deeper purpose than CV-building and teaching students to “juggle multiple media initiatives”, whatever that means. On 17th August, Ed Stamper tendered his resignation from the board of the Red and Black, citing in part the embarrassment of the circulation of his memo to editorial staff; they were just internal editorial guidelines, he thought, and didn’t need much thought. “I’m a businessman,” he explained, “not a journalist.” Newspapers, physical or digital, are valuable and should be defended, but shouldn’t be popular by virtue of being easy to read. The
Huffington Post’s column on cute animals has phenomenal website traffic, but Gifs of snoring puppies should not have higher front page billing than supreme court justices. Editors need to provoke intelligently and challenge their readers and, if college newspapers are to fulfil both of their muchneeded functions, they need to confront existing prejudices and measure the results. Measuring is significantly harder when you have nothing to measure. Both UT and TN have published controversial stories in the last month, and they’ve generated outrage, disgust, and, generally, profound inaction. We want a better college press. So do you. Please, write letters to our editor, comment on our stories, and write to me at email@example.com. Both this column and my blog at trinitynews.ie are outside the jurisdiction of our editorial staff and will never be censored, altered or edited. I answer to the Publications Committee, and not the editor of this paper. I’m here to give your reactions to our stories more airtime and higher visibility, functioning as a link between this paper and its readers. I want to question the stories we run and the standards we do or don’t uphold. Help us write stories that matter and hold the college to account. We look forward to hearing from you.
Photo: George Voronov
Elaine McCahill Editor-at-Large It’s Freshers’ Week – a kaleidoscope of societies, events, nights out and connecting with new and old friends. However, once this free-for-all of fun and drinking is over, the real assault on your senses will begin with the early onset this year of campaign season. For those of you new to Trinity, there has been a student march in November for the past two years to protest against hikes in registration fees, the reduction in student grants and the cutting of postgraduate funding. It is yet unconfirmed as to whether there will be a student march again this year. But never fear, there is always a campaign floating around to spam your inboxes. This Michaelmas term, the campaign du jour is to do with disaffiliation from the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). For those who are unaware, the USI represents the students of all of the universities, ITs and colleges that are affiliated with them. Any student in a member college can be elected to the officer board. The USI claims to be “the representative body for Ireland’s 250,000 students in third level education … working for the realisation of students’ needs, justice and human rights.” One of the main reasons why there have been motions to disaffiliate at Trinity’s students’ union council is that the USI and the majority of its members have voted to not amend their policy on fees. There have also been a few dodgy sit-ins, and a constitutional amendment that increased the salaries of the officers as well as their maximum number of terms in office – the details of which were circulated only to conference delegates, and not to member students, before being passed at the USI congress. The question of whether or not to remain affiliated with the USI will officially be put to Trinity students in the coming weeks. Campaigning will begin on the first official day of term, Monday 24th October. So, commiserations to all returning students hoping to ease themselves back into College life. Last academic term the referendum issue was put to students in the form of a debate that was organised between Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) and the Phil. Then-president of the USI, Gary Redmond, spoke against disaffiliation and at the end of his speech many questions were put to him about the policies and future of the USI. However, by the end of the debate that night approximately 60% of the students in attendance still voted in favour of disaffiliation, while the remaining percentage was split between those who were against disaffiliation and those who were undecided. It was evident that Redmond hadn’t done enough to keep the students on side. At the end of the last college year, the USI then decided to
hold a preferendum on what Irish students thought their policy on fees should be. The choices included 100% exchequer funded fees, a graduate tax, a student contribution or a student loan system. Students were asked to log into the online voting system using their college ID and passwords and to click on their preference. This campaign spammed many a Facebook and Twitter feed, but didn’t exactly garner a great response. You see, voting in referendums, preferendums or elections is not considered trendy fare here in D2 and as such there have been shockingly low voting figures for the past several polls. In the online preferendum last May, only 1,879 Trinity students cast their votes. It was a very low number considering that our own SU had rolled out a massive campaign, both in print and online, encouraging students to vote. It was such a simple process, and yet apathy evidently prevailed. While the majority of those who voted did so in favour of a student contribution, in the end the USI decided to continue with their free fees strategy after a contentious conference. It was this decision that really brought the disaffiliation issue to the fore. The USI and the majority of students around the country believe that education is a right, not a privilege, and should therefore be available to all free of charge. However, a number of students last year argued eloquently in favour of campaigning for other means of funding third level education. As such, by the end of last year it appeared that the popular opinion here in Trinity was that the USI should be campaigning for a grant restructuring or a student loan system rather than free tuition, which, it has been argued, is untenable. Ideas about grant reform, loan schemes and a graduate tax have been debated at great length in both the student and mainstream media forums. However, as a result of the national preferendum on fees policy, the USI will now argue that it has been mandated by Irish students to campaign for 100% exchequer-funded fees. Due to the differing opinion between Trinity students and those in other institutions, our students’ union are putting the question to us whether to disaffiliate and fight our own case independently or to stay put and work with USI policies. Many continue to argue that we should remain affiliated and unite behind the free fees mandate, as we are stronger united than fractioned. Some argue that it would not be good for our image or for our students to disaffiliate. To others, the means by which the USI conducts its policies and elections need to be addressed first, and a comprehensive strategy put in place by which students can campaign for an eventual change to how the education system is funded. For many, marches to nowhere in cold November rain won’t cut it anymore. While tuition fees are the main point of contention for most
students, the USI also campaigns on a national level for the rights of students who have disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community. As the largest student representative body in the country, the USI representatives naturally have greater access to government representatives and the Higher Education Authority, and as such they hold more weight in debates and meetings. There is simply no way that Trinity’s students’ union, as an independent body, could gain the same sort of access – that is, if our officers would even have the time to take on these duties. There are legitimate questions about the utility of a rival national students’ union. However, those campaigning for disaffiliation will argue that, as Ireland’s premier university, Trinity will be able to hold its own if it left the confines of the USI. The newly-elected USI president, John Logue, has also confirmed that he is to follow the majority decision of the preferendum last May and campaign for 100% exchequerfunded third level education. However, he recently stated in an interview with Hot Press magazine that he believed that a graduate tax was the best option. He has set up a task force to tackle the student mandate, though, with “… the specific goal of this taskforce [being] to produce a five-year strategic policy plan for achieving 100% exchequer-funded education.” Whether this will be achieved within the space of five years remains to be seen. It seems doubtful. But the continuous increase of the registration fee is not working. While we (or our parents, or our loans, or our grant) are paying more and more, the government is giving less to our universities and postgraduate funding has been slashed. Many people agree that if the €2,250 registration fee was actually going towards their education and not just into the government debts, they would object to it less. Whatever the case, if fees increase further, the numbers of young people able to access third level education will fall. In the end, it’s important for us all, whether returning students or junior freshmen, to listen to both sides and cast an educated vote. With tens of thousands of euros at stake in USI subscriptions – and much more in student fees if our course of action is unsuccessful – there can scarcely have been a more important referendum. The campaign managers for both sides of the USI referendum have been announced. Mark O’Meara of Trinity Young Fine Gael will be heading the Yes campaign to disaffiliate, while Jack Leahy, the news editor of the University Times, will lead the No campaign to remain affiliated. Polling takes place from 1st-4th October. Freshmen should be aware that the issues involved in this campaign will affect them for longer than anyone else in College. The rest should know that, after dismal showings in serious votes last year, the turnout simply has to increase. Get out and vote.
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
Science in Brief Anthea Lacchia
Analysis of 80,000 year old DNA DNA analysis performed on a bone fragment of a cave girl living about 80,000 years ago revealed she was a Denisovan, a relative of the Neanderthals. The Denisovans are a group of ancient humans only known from a couple of bone and tooth fragments recovered in Siberia’s Denisova cave. The
genome was sequenced in great detail and the results shed new light into the genetic changes that accompanied the evolution of modern humans. The research, which appeared in the journal Science, was based at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.
Animals Share Human Consciousness It might not come as a surprise: we humans are not the only conscious ones. In July, an international group of scientists attending a conference in Cambridge University, UK, presented and signed the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, which states that “humans are not unique in possessing the
Curiosity: a rover with a mission
Magical Materials at the Science Gallery The new show, which runs from 15 September to 14 October 2012, aims to celebrate the world’s most futuristic materials. Visitors can touch, see and discover 50 materials, including aerogel, the lightest solid in the world, graphene, a material 200 times stronger than steel, artificial leaves and spider
Roughly the size of a car, rolling on the highways of the red planet.
O Stephen Keane
n 6 August 2012, thousands of Internet users around the world held their breath as they watched a live feed of the latest Mars rover, Curiosity, descend onto the planet’s surface. The descent was dubbed ‘Seven Minutes of Terror’ by those involved, because it was the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, the most spectacular elements occurring when the rover was lowered by nylon ropes from a rocket pack called a sky crane which then disengaged and flew away to land elsewhere. The great distance between Earth and Mars meant technicians and fans alike had to endure a 13 minute delay before receiving the first black and white images of a rocky landscape after what turned out to be a perfect landing. Curiosity’s mission is to determine whether Mars has ever supported microbial life, or could do so in the future. It also represents an important shift in emphasis from the planet’s water history to its potential for life. The main investigation is set to last one Martian year which is the equivalent to two years on Earth. The whole endeavour is part of a coordinated program of exploration on Mars by Nasa, which plans on sending humans there in the 2030s. Curiosity was even sending back data on radiation exposure during the voyage from Earth for use in a manned mission. Operating the rover from Earth comes with
its own set of challenges. The time delay between Earth and Mars means that driving the rover is like driving a car where you can only see the road as it was 10 minutes before. This makes even the simplest task slow down considerably. As it is Curiosity has been testing and calibrating its various bells and whistles for over five weeks before it can dig into the meat of Martian ecology. In addition, one day on Mars is roughly 40 minutes longer than on Earth. This allows Curiosity to work longer hours, but has also resulted in the engineers operating it having to live on Martian time which goes completely out of synch with our own after a few weeks. One team member has even had his entire family join in the new routine. The Curiosity rover itself is roughly the size of a car and contains the most massive geochemistry lab to leave the planet. In answering questions from fans, the Nasa Engineers mentioned a “friggin’ laser” capable of vaporising rocks as one of its coolest things on board. This is used to identify the elemental composition of rocks at a distance by heating them up and looking at the colours as the rock glows. The first rock was vaporised recently as a test on a fistsized lump called Coronation. Curiosity’s main area of interest is Mount Sharp, a five kilometre-high mountain at the centre of the Gale crater.
The focus here is on minerals which appeared to have been formed by water when viewed from orbit. Curiosity will be checking to see if there are water molecules still locked inside the minerals by collecting samples and bombarding them with neutrons. It is currently en route to its first drilling site called Glenelg where it will perform the first ever drilling into the bedrock of another planet. Nasa’s mission to engage the public in their missions has really come to the fore with Curiosity. Aside from showing a live feed of the landing, Nasa has been streaming teleconferences and status updates for anyone who cares to listen. Even more exciting, a weather station on the rover is set to give daily weather reports of conditions on Mars. So far temperatures have ranged from -2 to -75 degrees Celsius. Their main aim seems to be to involve the public in as many Curiosity evens as possible. Curiosity’s own twitter account now has well over a million followers. Curiosity regularly tweets new photos of Mars and updates on what it’s up to for the day. In a further effort to capture public imagination, images and video from the rover are being displayed on the Toshiba Vision Screen in Times Square, where they will be seen by thousands of people each day until 15 October 2012. The hope is that this will inspire a new generation of children
who grow up wanting to be astronauts and to go to Mars. There really is no better advertisement for the sciences than the one coming from across the solar system. The publicity surrounding the landing took an unexpected turn when the public became fixated on flight director Bobak Ferdowski, widely known as ‘Mohawk Guy’ for his distinctive ‘do. Ferdowski was even mentioned in President Barack Obama’s congratulatory phone call to the team, when he said: “You guys are a little cooler than you used to be”. Keeping things current, Mohawk Guy updated his hair recently to include the tyre tracks left by Curiosity after it made its maiden trek across the Gale crater. Curiosity’s arrival on Mars represents the culmination of eight years of hard work but the real work is just beginning. Once its two year mission is complete, Curiosity can extend its investigation indefinitely until its wheels fall off and laser burns out. Nasa’s next Mars mission is already in the pipes for 2013. The MAVEN mission (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission) , will be the first dedicated to examining the upper atmosphere, with a view to learning where all the water on the planet went and how quickly the atmosphere is escaping into space. If Nasa’s previous efforts are anything to go by, the anticipation is already building.
College looks ahead with new telescope Plans to build a new telescope in Birr Castle are underway, but further funding is needed.
P Anthia Lacchia Science Editor Illustration: Sinead Mercier
lans are underway for a new, state of the art telescope to be built on the grounds of Birr Castle, Co. Offaly. This would be the largest low frequency radio telescope in the world. “Further funding is needed before building can commence, but we are optimistic that it will go ahead,” explains Dr Brian Espey, from the School of Physics. Dermot Desmond, Denis O’Brien and Joe Hogan have already pledged financial backing for the telescope and efforts are underway to find new funders. “The project has had a good start by getting a number of high profile names to back it and we hope this will encourage more people to do so.” “This is a Trinity-lead project, but it is part of a country-wide collaboration. It would be used
by researchers in all Irish institutions and would be an important teaching instrument. When built, it will inspire young scientists and engineers, as well as the general public. It will transform Irish astrophysics,” says Dr Espey. With a cost of €1.2 million, the telescope would be a significant investment, but it would also enable Ireland to be part of a €150 million European project that encompasses up to 50 radio telescopes in Germany, France, Sweden, the UK and the Netherlands. These facilities are grouped together in the so-called Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) network. The Irish station, which would be called I-LOFAR, would increase the overall size of the network and enable distant objects to be imaged in
much finer detail. Through a number of antennae, the telescope would be able to detect low frequency radio waves, which would then be sampled digitally and transmitted to a supercomputer in the Netherlands, where radio images of the Universe would be created. Birr is a radio-quiet environment, making it an ideal location for the telescope. It is also the site where, in the mid1800s, William Parsons, the 3rd Earl of Rosse, built the Leviathan Telescope, with a 1.8 m aperture. The telescope would take radio images of the early Universe, soon after the Big Bang. So it would have the potential to shed light on the origin of the Universe and its early evolution. The powerful instrument
would also further the study of black holes and help understand the impact of solar storms on technologies such as GPS, telecommunications and electrical power grids. There would also be benefits for the Irish economy, since a number of Irish companies, including Intune Technologies, Openet, and Skytek, would use I-LOFAR to develop new networking and data-management technologies. The technologies required for LOFAR could drive computer scientists to develop new computing and data management systems based on Grid and Cloud computing, areas of significant growth opportunity for Ireland. “It is a flagship project for Ireland,” says Espey. For more information, see www.lofar.ie.
neurological substrates that generate consciousness”. The document, which was signed in the presence of Stephen Hawking, among other prominent scientists, acknowledges that all mammals and birds, as well as other animals such as octopuses and bees, have awareness and experience like we do.
silk. Many of the materials are brought to life by superhero illustrations. The show was developed in partnership with nanoscience institute CRANN to launch Nanoweek, which runs from 14 September to 21 September 2012. See sciencegallery.com/ magicalmaterials.
Glass shape alters drinking speed
Nasa Engineers mentioned a “friggin’ laser” capable of vaporising rocks as one of its coolest things on board.
New research suggests that the shape of your glass influences the speed at which you drink. So say researchers at the University of Bristol in a study that filmed 159 men and women while they were drinking beverages from either straight or curved glasses. The
results showed that drinking time is slowed by almost 60% when drinking from a straight glass compared to a curved one. There was no difference in drinking time when soft drinks were consumed. The study was published in the journal PloS One.
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Tuesday 18th of September 2012
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
Sport Freshers Guide to Clublife
Illustrations: Alice Cooper
Boxing Edward Fitzgerald
Five new members of the Irish diaspora met in London to enjoy some Olympic boxing. It was Team GB versus Team Ireland in a gold medal clash. Many stories of Trinity, Dublin and Ireland were told and retold as we educated our English hosts about the place of our origin. If you felt a pang of inspiration whilst watching Katie Taylor win gold or any other of the great performances by Irish boxers in London, make it count and join Dublin University Boxing Club – they will be waiting for you with open arms. Three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) in the sports centre, the club runs a non-contact workout designed around boxing technique in which you will be taught how to punch and move like a boxer. Be warned: this session is intense and not recommended for the faint-hearted. However, those prepared to put in some effort are met by a room full of friendly students of both sexes, of all shapes and sizes and from all backgrounds ready to welcome them. When you’re feeling fit and brave enough, you can then graduate to the sparring sessions which follow. Most new members are surprised at their capacity to inflict pain on another human being – but importantly great friendships are
forged during these rounds of blood and sweat. You will also have an insider’s appreciation of the sport, which makes following it at the Olympics so much more enjoyable. As an Irish fan in the UK during the Olympics, the Team GB hysteria was nauseating at times; but in Katie Taylor we have an athlete with the appeal to interrupt the British media cheerleading. The featherweight gold medal match between Mullingar man John Joe Nevin and Great Britain’s Luke Campbell demonstrated why all physiques can excel in the sport. The tall British boxer possessed a pair of slender pins any woman would have been proud to slip into some tights, whilst his height gave him a reach advantage against the energetic Irishman. So what type of boxer emerges from a college populated by airy-fairy, pretentious types who enjoy throwing a scarf around their neck? Coach Dan Curran, who was a top-class international for Ireland in his day, knows all aspects of the fight game, including the unglamorous tricks needed when working inside, and is able to imbue a talented student with a level of skill, ring-craft and class that belies their relative inexperience. Generally, during a Colours match, a raging UCD boxer
desperately tries to conceal an inferiority complex with huge swings and a swarming style, whilst the Trinity boxer attempts to weather the storm and pick shots, which impress the judges. As the London 2012 Olympics demonstrated, Ireland produces great boxers; so does this university. The club can claim close links to legends of the sport such as Fred Tiedt, a silver medallist at the Melbourne games of 1956 and head coach of the club for many years. The former superbantamweight world champion Bernard Dunne fought in a Colours match during his short time in College. But more importantly, it still produces fighters prepared with the right combinations of talent and determination to do great things. There could be no better example than the group that put in a summer of gruelling training in order to give the US Naval Academy’s team a ding-dong match this summer. A popular story in Jamaica is that the yam vegetable common in the cuisine of the island is the secret behind their disproportionate success in sprinting. Perhaps the humble Irish spud contains a certain magic that enables us consistently to punch above our weight.
Equestrian Kate Rowan
Not too many college sports clubs can claim to have a successful Olympian as a member while also taking a keen interest in the social side of proceedings, with past exploits including a My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding themed fancy dress ball! Welcome to the eclectic world of the Dublin University Equestrian Club (DUEC). While many of the headlines aimed towards those with an interest in all things equine and Irish during this summer’s London Olympics may have focused on Cian O’Connor’s bronze medal for individual show jumping on Blue Lloyd and the controversy surrounding his inclusion in the squad, current Trinity student and Olympic torch-bearer Natalya Coyle put her name on the map in the fascinating discipline of modern pentathlon. Of course, it is not just the Equestrian Club that can lay claim to Coyle, but also the athletics, fencing, swimming and rifle clubs, as they all come together to form this gruelling event. Coyle finished a very admirable ninth out of a field of 36, which is considered a great feat as modern penthathletes tend to get better the more Olympic experiences they have under their belts. However, if the concept of this multi-disciplinary sport grabs your attention, the best place to explore it further would be with DUEC. For those with any experience of Pony Club competitions, modern pentathlon’s
cousin, the tetrathlon, may be familiar. In simple terms, tetrathlon is modern pentathlon minus the fencing, but of course there are differences regarding the distances run, shooting procedures, and the layout and heights of the showjumping component. Tetrathlon is popular amongst university equestrian clubs and Coyle has twice during her time in Trinity won the women’s event at Irish intervarsity level. However, the Equestrian Club secretary, Katie Weldon, is keen to explain that tetrathlon is not all about grueling competition, as much fun is to be had during competition weekends – including the aforementioned fancy dress events. Each year a different university hosts the competition. The same applies to the intervarsity competition that tests the two other disciplines that the DUEC competes in: dressage and showjumping. At the 2012 event, Trinity won the team showjumping intervarsity competition represented by Weldon, Poppy Blanford and Mary-Kate Byrne. DUEC were also successful winning this year’s overall Colours dressage and showjumping competition. Equestrian sports can have the image of being elitist and a sport for the wealthy. Of course, one of the best-known threeday eventers to non-horsey folk is Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter and winner of
a team bronze at this year’s Olympics. However, you do not have to possess royal connections to enjoy equestrian sports at Trinity! Firstly, all horses at intervarsity competitions are provided by the host institution (it is easy to argue owning your own steed will give you an edge) and many join the club as complete beginners. Weldon enthuses that “there is definitely space for those who are new to riding” and there are lessons to cater to all ranges of abilities at subsidised rates at Brennanstown Equestrian Centre. The club secretary is also keen to emphasise that “We are a very social club and the great thing about the intervarsity competitions is that lots of people just attend to support their friends and you get to know lots of people from other colleges all over the country, which really makes a great experience.” This year’s captain, Ellie Carthy, and the club committee hope to pick up from where last year’s captain, Susie Morris, left off, with expanding membership and events. These will include social events in conjunction with the increasingly popular Horseracing Society as well as talks on horse welfare and feeding and reconnecting with former alumni now successful in the equestrian circuit, such as the international showjumping judge Suzanne Macken.
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
Sailing George Tetley
Athletics Sam Mealy
Dublin University Sailing Club (DUSC) is Ireland’s largest student sailing organisation. Based in the elegant Royal St George Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire, the club regularly fields six teams at varsity sailing events around the country. The Sailing Club has a proud history with no less than 15 TCD alumni having represented their country in sailing at Olympic level. 2006 saw one of many high points for the club when a team from Trinity won the Student Yachting World Cup in La Rochelle, France. In doing so they became the first Irish team to achieve this title. Closer to home, the Irish University Sailing Association organises three regional events and an intervarsity championship in various locations around the country each year. DUSC is a regular contender and victor at these. Last year, however, the club could only finish an agonising second to arch-rivals UCD. This result provides no small incentive for the coming season.
Dublin University Harriers and Athletics Club (DUHAC) was founded in 1885 and holds the illustrious title of being the oldest athletics club in Ireland. Athletics was a different beast back then. The College Races, first held in 1857 at College Park, comprised of the long jump with trapeze, a Siamese race, a three-mile walk, and the cricket-ball throw. The Races reached their pinnacle during the 1870s, when spectators numbered some 25,000 – a figure that rather dwarfs attendances today. It was around this time when Oscar Wilde was publicly admonished for failing to fulfil his Races duties. He was too busy celebrating the other “athletic” endeavours that marked the Races as such a special occasion. The College Board cancelled the Races of 1879 and
DUSC is looking forward to building on past successes and a strong base to put in some good results this year. In addition to the regular IUSA circuit, this year the club is hosting alumni and invitational events. The social scene at the events is tremendous, with a strong aprèssail program imperative to team integration and cohesiveness. With Trinity Sailing also comes the opportunity to cross St George's Channel and take on some of the British teams in a country whose tax scheme is more suited to student habits. Last year the Trinity first and second teams were invited to the Exeter Excalibur and performed strongly, both finishing in the top eight amongst the cream of British team racing. The club aims to return to the UK to better that performance in the coming season. The club also organises discounted sailing lessons for beginners, so even if you’ve never sailed before get in touch and hop on board!
1880 due to over-enthusiastic students rioting under the influence of great quantities of “cheap claret, beer and stout.” Former DUHAC and Irish cross-country captain Roy Dooney's reminiscences of the “gallon ten” further points to the club's more mischievous edge: a ten mile run around College Park (two large laps per mile) with each mile being interspersed with the drinking of one pint of beer. According to anecdotal evidence, the last ten was completed in 1974. A challenge to incoming freshers, perhaps? Even if you don't like throwing heavy objects, long distances or running around in ovals at moderate speed, there is something for you at DUHAC. They are one of the most active sports clubs on campus, organising several sessions
weekly, including leisurely runs through Georgian Dublin, track sessions on College Park or at Irishtown stadium, and weekend sessions at the Phoenix Park. Runs are conducted at conversation pace and there are always several groups on each run so that everybody has a running buddy. Many of its members are also involved in mountain running, orienteering and triathlon and co-operate with the respective clubs in Trinity as much as possible. They also organise popular circuit and core strength classes at the sports centre. The club send men's and women's teams to intervarsity events throughout the year, including road relays, cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field. If you wish to compete, you'll get the chance to visit such exotic locations
as Maynooth, Waterford and Sligo. Slightly more exotic still is the annual warm weather training camp generally held during the reading week (more of a relaxing week really) of Hilary term. DUHAC boasts two of Ireland's finest current athletes amongst its ranks. Tal Coyle was women's track captain last year and placed ninth in the modern pentathlon at the London Olympics. Mark Kenneally competed in the marathon at London. Two members of this year's committee, Becky Woods and Liam Tremble, have received Trinity's prestigious sports scholarship in recognition of their athletic achievements, and both will seek representation on Irish teams again this year.
Cricket Kate Rowan
Camogie Sarah Burns
While typically Trinity is not associated with Gaelic games, the GAA – in particular camogie – continues to grow within College. This is the first year that camogie will have two teams, due to an increase in the number of camógs, with both an A and B team. Although many of its members have some previous experience in the sport, captain Áine Murphy explained that “Every year we have exchange and Erasmus students joining the team and they catch on quickly. The basics of camogie are easy to conquer and even if you’re terrible, you’ll have a great laugh making a fool of yourself!”
Off the pitch new members can look forward to events such as the GAA Colours Night and the Halloween Ball held throughout the year. The highlight of their social calendar is the GAA Ball, which brings the members of the hurling, camogie, handball and Gaelic football teams together. This year the teams will be hosting the intervarsity shinty games, welcoming Edinburgh University to College. Shinty is similar to camogie and hurling, being played with a wooden stick, similar to a hockey stick, and the rules of both games adjusted to make it fair for either side. Last year the camogie
team travelled to Edinburgh to play the games, so this year it’s their turn to host. In addition, each year there is a GAA trip to somewhere in Ireland which is heavily attended by all teams involved in Trinity GAA. The camogie team boasts a host of talented players such as Catriona Foley, three-times All Ireland winner with Cork, who has received three All Star awards. Other inter-county players include Mairi Moniyhan and Jade Carey for Dublin. Following a successful season last year, just missing out on a place in the final of the cham-
pionship to St Pats, sights are firmly set on bringing home silverware in the form of the Fr Meaghair Cup this year. For the past three years, the team has successfully qualified for the championship, getting as far as the semis and even the final each time. The team trains in Clanna Gael in Ringsend, just a 15 minute walk from College, and have a great clubhouse with floodlit pitches and an astroturf. The season usually starts around October with the league and runs until the end of February.
The Pav may be the revered watering hole of many a Trinity student. But remember, Pav comes from pavilion – as in “cricket pavilion” – and that broad expanse of green in front is one of the world’s most beloved cricket grounds. The cricket ground in Trinity College, Dublin once held Ireland’s international matches and has a very special ambience, being nuzzled in not the just the heart of a bustling university campus but also a city. This venerated turf is just one of the many unique selling points of the Dublin University Cricket Club (DUCC). There is also the history of the club, as its public relations officer, Andrew Keane, explains: “We have just finished our 177th season, we are far and away the most successful university club in Ireland – actually in Ireland and Britain for that matter, as we are the only university club playing in a top division.” Historically, DUCC also once held the same status as English county cricket clubs. Alas, those are bygone days, but that does not take away from the fact that over 100 former DUCC members have gone on to play international test cricket – the pinnacle of the game – for the likes of England, South Africa and New Zealand. Unfortunately, Ireland does not hold test cricket status and is unlikely to do so until 2020 at the earliest, but that does not stop Ireland’s current crop of cricket internationals. Trinity are lucky to have rising Irish international star George
Dockrell amongst their number, who also plies his trade at county cricket level in England for Somerset. Last year’s club captain, Eoghan Delany, broke a number of DUCC records that had been held for over 80 years and appeared as a substitute for Ireland. However, another attraction to donning your cricket whites in Trinity is that as well as players such as Dockrell and Delany heading towards the highest level, the club’s three teams also contain many keen amateurs and newcomers. Keane believes that, with this “diversity of standard of player” and the fact that teams are relatively small, there is a “very friendly, almost family atmosphere with lots of social events.” Another draw to potential members is that you may end up under the tutelage of former Ireland cricket captain and current international Trent Johnston, who is a member of the coaching team. If you are not a cricket buff, you may just associate the sport with the summer but the club operates during all seasons, offering indoor nets sessions in the Trinity College Sports Centre during the chillier winter months. DUCC are eager to welcome more members into their unique and varied environment with a particular call to women to get involved. Cucumber sandwiches and Pimm’s are optional.
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
GAA John Tighe
It is a great time to be part of Gaelic games in Trinity, especially now that Trinity GAA is the biggest club in the entire college, according to an article in the Irish Times published towards the end of the last academic year. Last year was a fantastic year for men’s football, with the senior team winning both the Division 2 title and the Trench Cup. Our freshers’ team competed heroically in their competitions last year, while our intermediate team threw-in in Division 3 of the league. This year we will be playing in the dizzying heights of Division 1, which is where this club belongs. We will also have the chance to compete in the Sigerson Cup, the standard-bearing competition for this level. Of course, it is not only the sporting aspect of the club that has to be emphasised but also the social aspect, with a trip to Fermanagh last year providing the kind of craic we hope to repeat this year. A GAA pub crawl was held on the Monday of Freshers’ Week, but if you missed that there will be plenty more opportunities to get to know the fellas at training or when we go out on (regular) sessions. We will be having our first
training of the season at 1pm outside the Pav. It will be for seniors, but if anyone wants to come down and get involved they are more than welcome. Talk to anyone down there and they will be able to sort you out. The team will also be at the GAA stand in Front Square for the entirety of Freshers’ Week. You should be able to get all the rest of the relevant information there if needs be. If you can’t make it to either the training session or the stand during Freshers’ Week, then get in contact with either the chairperson, Mickey Boyle, at 086 1573634, or the manager, Ryan Casey, at 086 0654651. The ladies’ GAA club now has two teams, with increasing interest from female students. The Senior A team lost out in Championship final last year, while the Senior B team won Division 4. If you would like to become a member contact club chairperson Mairead McParland at email@example.com.
Ladies Boat Kate Rowan
Find more information about all of the sports clubs mentioned here and many more through the Dublin University Central Athletic Club (DUCAC) on their website at www.ducac. tcdlife.ie/.
DU Riﬂe Reuben Smith DU Rifle is dedicated to the sport of target shooting. We are one of the largest and most successful sports clubs in college, taking home many prizes each year in both junior and senior categories. We cater for both novices and experienced shooters. Whether you shoot casually or start to enter competitions is entirely up to you! We welcome you either way! Our jubilee is approaching and we will be holding some events to celebrate, make sure to check out www.durcjubilee.com. The DU Rifle club is one of the college’s most successful, having never failed to take home a prize from every club competition entered in the past two years and winning international events such as the Celtic League. We have our own range
on campus, behind the Civil engineering building by the rugby pitch. The range is open Monday to Friday from 6.00pm. Air Rifle takes place on Mondays and Wednesdays. Mondays are dedicated to squad training. The club enters teams of all levels into a variety of leagues, local and inter-university, postal and shoulder-to-shoulder. There are usually matches every three weeks against other clubs, and we hold many internal fun and competitive shoots. We have also had past and current members competing in World Cups, ISSF International Matches, Commonwealth Games and University Championships. In the winter season the club shoots 0.22 prone indoors at
25 yards and Air Rifle at 10m , while in Hilary and Trinity Term there are outdoor 50m .22 prone and Three Position events. We also shoot 0.22 Sporter Rifle throughout the year. The membership fee for the club is only 4 for new members, and includes use of all equipment (and some free ammunition to get you started). To join you must be a current student or staff member of TCD, or be an alumnus and a member of ducac. If you have any questions, feel free to drop down the range during opening hours or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Men’s Hockey Freddy Hill
Trinity College’s city centre campus is full of atmospheric hidden gems but you will find another Trinity treasure beyond the hallowed College Green gates. Nestled away in a corner of the War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge, you will discover the Trinity Boat House. The Boat House is home to separate rowing clubs for male and female students. Within this remarkable building that harbours such a masculine history, you will now hear lots of girlish laughter and see quite a splash of pink – the colours of the Dublin University Ladies Boat Club are pink, black and white. The Ladies Boat Club is much younger than the male counterpart, having been founded in 1976, and continues to be a growing and progressive club where students studying a wide variety of subjects from medicine to engineering to social work to film studies come together to row, clad in pink and black under the encouragement of the current captain, Hazel O’Neill (JS medicine), and the coach, Andrew Coleman. Part of what drew my attention towards ladies’ rowing was the success of Great Britain’s female rowing contingent during the London Olympic Games.
While the Barclays Premier League is just getting back into its groove, all eyes now turn to Leinster hockey and, in particular, Dublin University Hockey Club (DUHC) in their ongoing quest for world-domination. Our usual Sky Sports correspondent, liaison and dear friend, Richard Keys, no longer maintains his position and, as such, our press coverage has dropped considerably as a result. We look forward to Richard joining us in Cork this year as a valued member, tactician and strategist for our team for the intervarsities competition as we look to regain the Mauritius Cup (or the Plate, should it come to that). However, what must be said is that, despite this reduced media presence, our incoming power people – the triumvirate composed of club captain Andrew Tyrrell, first team captain Niall Noonan and club coach Billy Evans – have been busy at a recruitment drive this summer and already big name signings including Connor Stevens
Team GB’s much-anticipated first gold was won on the waters of Eton Dorney by Heather Stanning and Helen Glover in the women’s coxless pairs. Stanning and Glover received much media attention, not just because they were the host nation’s first golden girls, but also as Glover had only taken up the sport four years previously after spells as a successful junior cross-country runner and hockey player. Glover and Stanning were successful products of the current British talent identification process that has proved so potent during this past summer’s Olympiad, but I was curious to see how those new to the sport in Trinity, especially women, would fare. Ireland does not have the same resources to be poured into a sophisticated talent identification system but one of the universal beauties of rowing – whether you are going for Olympic gold or just merely want to keep fit, make new friends and have some fun while you are at it – is that you can arrive (and most do) as complete beginners to rowing in university. From the enthusiastic group of members that were assembled in Islandbridge on a blustery Thursday evening before the start of term, the unanimous opinion was that everyone was
and Steven Ludgate have been welcomed into the fold. Stevens arrived in from Monkstown, was a member of their second XI who did the treble back in 2011 and is a frequent member of their 1st XI, as well as Leinster under-18s. He made his debut for Trinity during Colours 2012 and has signed on fully to join the growing St Andrews contingent within the club. Ludgate is a recent acquisition from Clontarf, having been an integral member of their squad, which won promotion to Division 1 as well as the Neville Davin Cup, and looks like a great prospect. Currently studying medicine, he brings great experience at a provincial level. Another member of DUHC to look out for is last season’s first team captain Cian Speers. The former St Andrews College player is a two-time Trinity College sports scholar and former Ireland under-18s captain and looks forward to his final year as part of our club. While last year was very much a transition as esteemed alumni
in the same boat (forgive the pun!) as beginners. As Coleman, a former captain of their male counterparts, explained, “You could be an Olympic level marathon runner or sprinter but once you get in the rowing machines, it makes no difference; it is a great leveller, all the new members are in the exact same place and have to start from the very beginning.” O’Neill explained that for her this way of starting to learn a new skill within a group helps to forge great friendships that span beyond just the confines of the rowing club. Another plus is that as well as diversity amongst the fields of study of members, there is also a mix of undergraduate, postgraduate and Erasmus students, so the rowers are expanding their social experience as well as becoming proficient at a sport. There are also various social events held throughout the academic year in conjunction with their male counterparts from DUBC. Many members join in their first year in Trinity but many more join in subsequent years; as one rower joked, “I went mad in first year and then decided I needed to get fit in my second!” In the past year, the club has
moved onto newer pastures, DUHC found themselves with a younger side than is usually at its disposal. After a disappointing start, with players trying to get used to their domestic and international teammates and the differing styles of play, the club rallied well and ended up a close third within Division Two. We are now in the fortunate position where summer turnover has been minimal for a college side and there is great cohesion within a unit that finished the season with aplomb, and looks set to hit the ground running from September this year. It gives me great pleasure that hockey rooms, an integral part of the club, are returning to Botany Bay this year, where it all began for me as a wide-eyed fresher some three years ago. To indulge in an anecdote for a brief moment, this return is reminiscent of the very beginnings of DUHC where the first meeting of its predecessor, the Irish Hurling Union, was held in House 17 of Botany Bay in 1879. This club went on
been relatively successful in terms of competition, winning the novice Colours against old foe UCD last term. Also, domestically the Club won two national championships in July in the novice and intermediate eights. As much as the competitive element is key, as in all sports, the enjoyment and fun factor seemed very apparent amongst DULBC members, with much hilarity elicited from the descriptions of their kit. One rower laughed, “When I first joined and I saw the Lycra you have to wear rowing, I thought you will never see me in that, and now it is like I live in Lycra!” As well as overcoming Lycraphobias, another benefit of rowing that was agreed upon by all was that, rather than the training taking away from precious study time, it “helps you balance your time and actually do better at your college work because you are much more fit and awake.” If the winning combination of the challenge of a new sport, meeting new people and increased alertness towards study (forgive another pun) floats your boat, the DULBC will be hosting an open day next Saturday.
to become DUHC and counted among its esteemed membership a certain Edward Carson (later the Right Honourable the Lord Carson, PC). The important link here being that the current hockey rooms are busy emulating those of years gone by, creating the potential leaders of our country! Carson's legacy was briefly celebrated last year in our previous home, House 38, with a waving Queen Elizabeth II as a tribute to our fine past; her whereabouts are since unknown and it is unlikely she shall regain her position of power in the window this year! DUHC, established in 1892, has a very proud tradition within Trinity and have four teams, of differing quality and competitiveness. We would welcome any and all interested to approach our stand (beside Dublin University Ladies’ Hockey Club) in Front Square this week and encourage you to come out to our trainings in Grange Road, Rathfarnham, on Monday and Wednesday evenings.
Tuesday 18th of September 2012
Out of the blue and into the spotlight
F Sarah Burns Sports Editor
ollowing their league victory in 2011 and having been narrowly defeated by Tipperary in the all-Ireland semi-final last August, there were high expectations for the Dublin hurling team in 2012. Instead, the Dubs ended up being relegated from division one and dumped out of the all-Ireland championships by Clare. Amid the overwhelming disappointment, there was perhaps one positive that fans could take from the season: the skill and talent that became evident in 20-year-old Danny Sutcliffe, a third-year student of business, economic and social studies (Bess) here in Trinity. Sutcliffe was one of the few bright sparks in the team, coming to prominence with notable performances against the likes of Kilkenny and Cork in the Allianz League. Walking through the campus on a sunny September afternoon, Sutcliffe is recognised and praised by a bystander sporting a Dublin jumper. Even though the team only won once this year, the fan seems pleased and wishes Sutcliffe well. I’m informed people don’t recognise him all that regularly, most likely because hurlers haven’t been recognised much on the street since they started wearing helmets. Looking back on the year Sutcliffe admits the season never really got going for Dublin. “We weren’t fully concentrated, taking it game by game. We were looking at the long-term plan, maybe talking about September too early. I’ll put my hand up, I was involved. I can say that I was one of those that was thinking too far ahead.” Adding to this, he explains, “Maybe we weren’t fully concentrating on hurling aspects and the game, focusing on stuff off the field instead.” Certainly, after the Leinster semi-final against Kilkenny, former hurler Eddie Brennan commented on the sheer physicality of Dublin and their upper-body strength, suggesting that not enough attention had been paid to basic hurling skills. Still, it was a positive season for Sutcliffe who continuously secured a position in the starting line-up while always appearing on the score board. His performance against Kilkenny in the league is particularly remembered, since he scored an impressive 2-3 against 2011 all-star Tommy Walsh, known to be one of the most ferocious defenders in hurling. Talking about the game in question, Sutcliffe doesn’t seem as impressed: “You’re hoping your best game is in the championship. I wish I had done the scoring on Tommy Walsh in a championship game.” One wonders what he thought
was his best game of the year; his performance in the onepoint league defeat to Cork in Croke Park springs to mind. “I think myself the game against Cork, the second league game in,” he agrees. “The previous week I was playing in the backs, and it went OK. It shows the confidence Anthony Daly has in his players. He just said to go up into the forwards. I ended up getting five points from play, and the whole game I was involved.” Clare man Anthony Daly took over the side in 2008, and looks set to stay on for next season. “I imagine he’ll attempt to freshen things up. Like, looking at the minors on Sunday, there is a few exceptional hurlers there. You have Cormac Costello as well. I’m hoping he picks up a hurl next year and comes along with us.” Over the past four years Daly has transformed the side into real contenders for the Liam McCarthy Cup and didn’t shy away from bringing fresh faces such as Sutcliffe’s into the squad. Despite the progress that was made, Dublin failed to make it past the all-Ireland qualifiers, going down horribly to Kilkenny and then losing to Clare in Cusack Park last July. “Losing in Clare just wasn’t good enough and doesn’t meet the standards to where we are now. Maybe that shows as well how far we’ve come and how far he’s [Daly] brought us. We don’t accept that we’re out in July. Maybe a decade ago that was just taken, that they’d be out early.” Expectations certainly rose, but there is still doubt over whether Dublin are any longer in the top four in the country, or even at the same standard as all-Ireland finalists Galway and Kilkenny. “That’s the thing that annoys me looking at the final there: the draw. We weren’t far away from them, yet we didn’t get to September, so you kind of have to find out where was the drop-off point during the season. We’ve proven it before. We’ve beaten them numerous times.” With the hurling season drawing to a close, talk turns to College and pre-season training instead. Managing both college work and an intense training regime is a gruelling task but one that Sutcliffe seems to have mastered. “Last term, around January, I’d sometimes have training in the mornings and then I’d go out training that evening. Sometimes I was just knackered going into College, my head was kind of slipping from my hand, hitting the desk. But you get used to it and you realise you have to go to bed earlier. You can’t stay up watching Desperate Housewives or
anything like that,” he laughs. “The schedule is so busy, your weekends are normally taken from going down the country, or you’re away on a training weekend and you just don’t have the time. It’s tough, but you have to keep on top of things because if you don’t you’ll start slipping.” Adding to this is the pressure of college exams which commence around the same time as the hurling championship begins. “Sometimes it’s actually a blessing in disguise. I remember last year I had exams before the Cork game. I had three exams and the last one was on the Saturday and the game was the next day so I wasn’t thinking about the game.” While exams may act as a distraction, Sutcliffe couldn’t actually sit his this May due to an injury picked up playing for his club, St Jude’s in Templeogue. “I actually had to put a cast on my arm after a club game and my exams were the next day, my summer exams, so that was a bit of a nightmare, but I just went in and explained and they said there was no problem. The problem was I had to do them all in August.” A summer consisting of Dublin defeats and exam repeats still had its perks, though. Most young players might choke or feel anxious playing in front of thousands of spectators at Croke Park, having just broken into a side. However, Sutcliffe relished the opportunity. “I enjoy it. Coming out into the crowds there, and you can hear the reaction if you miss a ball, their disappointment. Or if the score goes over. I love it. It’s tough not to play well. Once you’re excited and looking forward to it, that’s when you play well.” This year both the Dublin hurlers and footballers played their league home games at Croker with the GAA running special “Spring Series” tickets. “It was great this year. Unfortunately we didn’t get to the championship, but it’s good to get a taste of what it’s like. The pitch, it’s just perfect. It’s like playing on carpet. It mightn’t be the same for everyone. Some people mightn’t enjoy it as much, but it gives me a boost.” Given that he’s a rising star in a sport that has become a lot more interesting since Kilkenny look a touch less infallible, I ask Sutcliffe how he is coping with the increasing media attention. “It’s OK. My mam is probably the worst. Someone will give her a newspaper and she’ll bring it home and I just throw it in the bin. My manager says not to read it.” Of course, Trinity News is the exception. While media coverage has been mostly positive for Sutcliffe, he continues to remain focused on
The hype? “It’s fine, once I don’t buy into it. It’s easy to start reading it and thinking you’re great.”
maintaining his form. “It’s fine, once I don’t buy into it,” he says of the hype. “It’s easy to start reading it and thinking you’re great. It’s nothing to get excited about. Either way you just kind of laugh it off, positive or negative.” Looking to the future and to next year’s season I’m informed that he has a lot of work to do. “The other half-forwards throughout the country are
probably a bit quicker than I am, so I have to build on that. Their speed in general, their speed of thought, that’s the most important thing. If you look at Sunday [the all-Ireland final between Galway and Kilkenny, due to be replayed on 30 September after ending in a draw], the pace of the game, that’s where I have to get to, so I’ve plenty of work to do this winter again.”
Yes, plenty to work on in terms of both College and hurling, but Sutcliffe appears determined and upbeat for the months ahead. Overall, it has been a successful year for him. While expectations may have dropped for Dublin hurling, they have risen for Sutcliffe: a Trinity student for whom success has come out of the blue.