VOLUME xViI ISSUE 8
Ne quid false dicere audeat ne quid veri non audeat
1st February 2011
IRELAND’S AWARD-WINNING STUDENT NEWSPAPER
WE EXAMINE THE WORK PERFORMED BY SUICIDE HELPLINES.
ARE CAREERFOCUSED DEGREE COURSES THE WAY FORWARD?
THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE IS LOOKED AT FROM THE MIDDLE AGES TO THE PRESENT.
Williamson issues apology to Ó Súilleabháin Killian Woods O-two Editor
CD Students’ Union Education Vice-President, James Williamson, has issued a full apology to Donnacha Ó Súilleabháin for his criticism of his predecessor’s performance as Education Officer last year, during the last meeting of the Students’ Union Council. Williamson heavily criticized the former Education Vice-President last year in the lead up to the sabbatical elections and questioned Ó Súilleabháin’s ability to fulfill the role. He highlighted specific parameters of the job that he felt Ó Súilleabháin was failing to perform adequately and tackled him about his perceived failure to take on any issues that Ó Súilleabháin had proposed on his manifesto. Williamson’s criticism also covered Ó Súilleabháin organization of Science Day the issue of charity funds that went missing during his tenure. While initially Williamson’s criticism of Ó Súilleabháin negatively impacted on their relationship, Williamson has sought to atone for his criticisms and made a full apology at the last Students’ Union Council. Speaking to The University Observer, Williamson explained that his apology was in light of his “criticism of him [Ó Súilleabháin] and his ability as Education Officer last year” but was keen to emphasize that the apology was made to Students' Union council in that he intended to it to solely cover criticisms relating to his role as Education Vice-President and not with regards to Science Day or any other issues: “I do criticise him heavily on other stuff that happened last year and he still knows that. Including Science Day, but that has nothing to do with the interview or council because it’s a separate thing altogether,” explained Williamson. As part of his criticism of his predecessor Williamson highlighted what he perceived as Ó Súilleabháin’s poor dealings with Programme Officers in the previous academic year. “I had very little dealings with Donnacha and that is weird because the Education Officer should be overseeing the Programme Officers. There was very poor contact with myself and Donnacha and the other Programme Officers last year… nobody really knew what he was doing.” Williamson told The University Observer that he decided to issue the apology based on his experience of the role of Education Vice-President to date and that he informed Ó Súilleabháin that he was going to make an apology to him prior to the Council meeting. He cited Ó Súilleabháín’s efforts to push through demonstrator and tutor teaching standard requirements as one of the aspects of Ó Súilleabháin’s tenure he would praise and cited what he perceives as the difficulty of his role when “it has to go through forty committees”.
Strong support for Labour among student voters
The students of UCD enjoy the festivities during Ag Week last Tuesday on campus.
News Editor survey conducted by The University Observer on attitudes towards the general election has shown that 24 per cent of students would vote for Labour. This makes the party the most popular among UCD students ahead of their nearest rivals Fine Gael and Independent/Other candidates who polled 20 per cent. Sinn Féin came third with 11 per cent while Fianna Fáil and the Green Party scored the lowest with 5 and 4 per cent respectively. Regarding attitudes towards politicians, 88 per cent said that they both felt let down by politicians and didn’t trust their judgement. The survey also revealed that 11 per
cent of students class themselves as not being engaged in politics at all while only 12 per cent of students regarded themselves as being heavily politically engaged. The survey showed that 85 per cent of those who responded would like to see the introduction of younger politicians to the Dáil. When asked of their opinion of the role of students in Irish politics, one student said: “Ideally they should play as much of a role as every other grouping in Irish society but unfortunately politicians tend to dismiss the opinions of students.” Another student said they regarded themselves as part of a lobby group, and said: “No-one listens to students.” Students were also asked to comment on their opinion of today’s political state in Ireland. One student responded: “Politics
is failing us, but we deserve it considering how we voted.” Another said: “We have shown the world that after fighting for independence for hundreds of years, we cannot even hold onto it for one hundred years. We’re not capable.” There was a diverse response to the question where asked to give their ideas on how to change the current economic situation in the country. One student said: “Hard work, investment in education, reducing social welfare,” while another respondent said: “End to party politics, idealism, vision, leadership (charisma), inspiration (media), closer ties with Europe and rest of world. End to short-term solutions and small minded thinking.” Ideas regarding taxation and compulsory Dáil attendance were also prevalent.
80 per cent of students said that they would be voting in the upcoming election while 72 per cent saying they feel that the election will have a positive effect on the future of the country. 81 per cent said that the state's financial situation will make them more likely to vote, yet a number of respondents chose not to answer that question. When asked what policies they would like to see introduced following the upcoming election, answers such as reduced student fees and electoral reform were common, in addition to a reduction in Social Welfare. 210 UCD students from across all subject areas took part in the survey between Tuesday and Friday of last week.
“Legal issues” stop publication of SVP nude calendar David Farrell
nude calender made by UCD Saint Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) has been prevented from publication by Societies Officer, Richard Butler, as a result of perceived legal issues surrounding its publication. The nude calendar proposal originated with the SVP and the photos were taken before Christmas comprising of society members from all across the university. However, a draft copy of the calendar was not given approval when sent to Butler, who told The University Observer “I decided that it was not appropriate for the calendar to be produced.” The auditor of the SVP told The Univer-
sity Observer that he has reason to believe there may be legal reasons involved in the prohibiting of the publication. In an email sent to SVP auditor Conor Tonry, Butler said: “there is a separate issue and set of circumstances that the University is dealing with at the moment, entirely separate from the calendar, but which could be affected negatively by such a venture.” Tonry said: “Over the last few days, I contacted a lot of people and the most information that I got is, that at the moment UCD are fighting a number of different legal battles and felt that while these disputes are going on, it wouldn’t be a good idea to bring out a naked calendar.” Mr Butler said “the decision was based on
the proposal by the SVP Society to produce this Calendar, I’m not aware of any legal issues being discussed with the Auditor of the SVP society.” When asked about the refusal to allow the calendar to be published, Niall Fahy said: “I thought it was strange but I probably couldn’t comment on whether or not it was justified.” Tonry said of the cancellation of the calendar: “I put a lot of work into it. It was disappointing but I accept that they must have had a good enough reason. Different colleges do calendars. I suppose it’s our fault. We didn’t realise these issues. They were unforeseen.” Tonry sent an email to the calendar participants to explain why the calendar would
not come into fruition: “I would like to apologise to all of you as I realise that taking part in a naked calendar is a really hard thing to do. We, in SVP, thought that we had all areas covered. We thought that the decision of the calendar being published or not lay with the Societies Officer and not the those who are in the hierarchy of UCD and the 'separate issue and set of circumstances' was something that I would never have foreseen. "However I do not want to make excuses for myself. Considering that I am the auditor of UCDSVP I should have found this stuff out, but I didn’t. So if you feel angry or disappointed by this whole situation then you can blame me.”
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 1 February 2011
Students and Irish Politics Irish students need to be more proactive to ensure that significant governmental changes are implemented. A high student voter turnout in the election is paramount to facillitate a better future for our country In a recent survey conducted by the staff of The University Observer, an astonishing 88 per cent of those surveyed said they did not trust the judgement of politicians. On the other hand however, only 12 per cent regarded themselves as being fully politically engaged. This disparity in our survey results is symptomatic of the seeming malaise among younger voters and arguably, the Irish nation writ large. These days, whenever students are asked what party they support or whom they are considering voting for in the upcoming general election, the most common response is a shrug of the shoulders, swiftly followed by a glib, sarcastic remark. This response is indicative of the generational apathy inflicting our nation – an apathy that emanates from a pervasive confusion and a lack of a strong political role model or voice with whom young people can readily identify. Again, 85 per cent of the students surveyed stated a preference for the emergence of a new and younger breed of politician. Yet what is the likelihood of a greater representation of young people in parliament when only 12 per cent of the target group describe themselves as fully politically engaged? You simply cannot have it both ways. USI have taken an important step in organising bus routes to provincial locations to facilitate students who would be otherwise unable to vote, but this is only a minor step in eradicating this disconcerting problem. While it would be far from surprising to discover that politicians purposefully
intend to schedule the general election date at an inappropriate time for students, given their tendency to exercise erratic and unpredictable voting patterns, this anomaly hardly impinges radically on the outcome of the election, owing to young people’s persistent detachment and indifference towards the most important issue of all – the running of our country in a fair, intelligent and dignified manner. Essentially, the opposite of what has transpired in recent months. In the last general election in 2007, the voter turnout amongst young people was unnaturally low in contrast with each of the other respective demographics. Back then, a similar style of survey in The University Observer found even more discouraging results from a student perspective, with only 82 per cent of students saying they intended to vote and 72 per cent claiming they were registered to vote. On this occasion, a characteristic shrug of the shoulder was again exhibited and droves of student voters were conspicuous by their absence come voting day. Politics was an old person’s game, irrelevant to the cream of the Celtic Tiger crop, or so they thought anyway. Yet recent history has amply demonstrated how students’ naive attitude to voting contributes in its own way to facilitate the downfall of this country’s thriving economy, thereby indirectly aiding the mass exodus of our citizens, the embarrassing spectacle of our grovelling politicians and all the
humiliating turmoil which followed on from that fateful day on May 24th 2007 when Fianna Fáil were re-elected into government. Approaching the issue of voting in such a casual manner was an undoubted error on all of our parts, and we have reaped the consequences. Therefore, the blame for the country’s perils should not be solely attributed to our bankers, politicians and property developers. The blame, in some ways, rests on all our own shoulders. The implications for this general election may very well be as serious as they were for the previous one. With this in mind, The University Observer urges all of its readers to ensure you are signed up to vote, to do all you can to get access to your local polling booth, and to think very carefully before casting your vote on the day in question, whenever that may be. If 85 per cent of students want to see more young politicians, then the appetite for significant political change clearly exists. Whether this desire is fulfilled and whether their passion is truly genuine remains unclear for now. But if the USI-orchestrated anti-fees march last October is anything to go by, then students will surely once again prove themselves more than capable of adopting a concerted, well-organised grassroots campaign in which apathy is extinguished amidst a blaze of long withheld fire emerging from students’ swift reawakening of their long dormant optimism and their seemingly recovered idealism.
Editorial Independence The University Observer’s editorial independence is of upmost importance to its editorial staff and contributing writers. Our reliance on funding from the Students’ Union is a non-issue and does not affect our impartiality. From the outset, I would like to introduce myself as the new Acting Editor of The University Observer having up to this point, been privileged to perform the Deputy Editor role. As Acting Editor, it remains as one of my key roles to cherish and protect the hard fought tradition of our independence effectively guarded by a succession of astute editorial teams of the years of what has been consistently acknowledged as the premier quality student newspaper in UCD. This accolade has been achieved due to the professionalism of the dedicated student contributors with the guidance of the editorial team, not to mention the support of the campus population. As part of this newspaper’s success, we are bound to have our detractors, some of whom may be somewhat jealous of our achievements. While this publication always welcomes informed criticism aimed at broadening democratic debate and constructive change, we do have to respond where attempts are made to endeavour in impugn the Observer’s core beliefs. Last week an article published in a purported rival publication (The College Tribune) attempted to question the paper’s independence as follows: “The newspaper, based in the corridors of the Students’ Union in the student centre [sic], is “editorially independent” from UCDSU.” The inverted commas around the words editorially independent suggests a measure of scepticism with regard
to the extent of the freedom which both our writers and the editorial team justly enjoy in terms of the paper’s capacity to impartially comment/inform on the broad range of all aspects of UCD life, independent from the UCD Students’ Union. Let’s put the matter of The University Observer’s impartiality in a transparent perspective. It is a matter of public record that the paper is allocated a budget of €50,000 from the UCDSU at the start of each year, of which a significant portion is subsequently recovered through advertising income. However, this funding in no way influences our editorial policy. Nor does it put us in a unique position in comparison to other newspapers, almost all of whom would be unable to survive or function to an acceptable standard without the financial backing of a third party. Anyone who claims that our articles are in any way reluctant to engage in balanced criticism of UCD’s elected student representatives need only bother making use of the paper’s extensive archives in which a number of robust SU-based articles have often appeared. Although a significant amount of our news coverage is dedicated to events relating to the UCDSU i.e. the body charged with responsibility for representing the student population, it would be a gross disservice to our loyal
readers to censor the views of the Students’ Union on relevant issues. Whereas academic authorities often prove evasive, the Students’ Union officers are oftentimes more open, willing and able to discuss student issues, in contrast with their elder counterparts. Functioning as a largely volunteer-based student newspaper with a limited amount of events to cover and a paucity of resources, The University Observer endeavours to serve as a mediator between the Sabbatical officers and the students they represent. The allegations that they are given a disproportionate amount of coverage on these pages are both unfair and untrue. The suggestion that the proximity of the Students’ Union and The University Observer accommodation somehow undermines impartiality is facile and does not dignify a response. In conclusion, let me assure our loyal readership that as Acting Editor, I am proud to lead an exceptional team of student contributors, focusing on meeting the information needs of the readership and will not be swayed from pursuing our core aims of impartially reporting on meaningful news items. God knows there are so many worthy topics that need to be reported on given the current state of our bankrupt economy and the draconian implications for students and college alike. Let’s press on and meet the challenges together!
Thank you, Quotes of the Fortnight: Bridget Align the tectonic plates differently!
We would like to wish Bridget Fitzsimons all the best for her future This issue marks the first without my colleague Bridget Fitzsimons. Bridget edited the paper for the first seven issues of the current volume and the paper wishes her all the best as she elects to seek pastures new. Though the timing of her departure was unfortunate, it should not detract from the stellar job Bridget performed whilst editing this newspaper. Moreover, her contribution over the years has been impressive to say the least, whether as News Editor, Chief Features Writer, or contributor, Bridget has always shown a capacity to excel in every single facet of journalism that she endeavoured to confront. The University Observer wishes to extend a hearty thanks to Bridget for all her years of distinguished years of service with the paper. We’ll miss you babes.
One student surveyed offers his unique view to the question ‘What can be done to turn the country around?’ If you don’t vote, you instantly give up your right to have a political opinion. Young Fine Gael Chairwoman, Noreen Mimnagh-Flemming, explains why voting in the upcoming election is important. I don’t reckon that they are better drivers but I think people are more aware of the penalty of not being better drivers. Student Aodhán Taylor explains why he feels drivers have become smarter and not better because of penalty points.
1 February 2011 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Political survey: Reaction Following the results of our survey, Quinton O’Reilly gets the opinions of the main UCD party leaders about the upcoming election and their reaction.
SURVEY RESULTS Question 1 Will you be voting in the upcoming general election? Yes: 80% No: 18% Don’t know: 2%
The Green Party received the lowest amount of votes from students in our survey.
Having suffered the biggest drop in voting preference from 17 to 5 per cent. The chairman of UCD Kevin Barry Cumman, Ciaran Murphy, was disappointed but remained philosophical about the party’s future. “I think a stint in opposition and fighting the next election as the opposition party will see Fianna Fail bring a lot more young people into the fold, I think that’s the only way to go forward,” said Murphy. While he’s not expecting Fianna Fáil to remain in government post election, Murphy does hope it will correct how politicians represent themselves and the country. “I think politics needs to step up a gear, it needs to start debating the issues honestly,” stated Murphy. Personality politics [has been around] for a long time say from Lemass onwards, I suppose Haughy and Bertie were some of the main culprits…[but] it’s become a problem where the message is getting people to listen to the 30 second sound bytes produced every day.” Murphy biggest wish that this election will bring about greater transparency through debates similar to what Fianna Fáil leader, Michael Martin, proposed last week. Murphy mentioned that Labour are also looking for an honest debate which he “appreciate[s] if that’s what they’re willing to do,” but ultimately hopes that the events of the last few months will bring about a fresh approach by all. I hope there will be proper debates around it,” said Murphy. “Not even televised debates but parties not attacking each other, just putting out their stalls and saying ‘this is what we have to offer, this is what the other parties have to offer, make an informed choice.’ If we start looking towards the future as to what can be done, I think that’s the only way we can move forward.”
Being the second highest party of choice (joint with Independents/others) at 20 per cent, the Chairwoman of UCD Young Fine Gael, Noreen Mimnagh-Flemming, was confident that the party could achieve a higher increase of popularity among voters over the coming weeks. She referred to the errors made by the current government as why people were looking for change. “Over the past thirteen years Fianna Fail and their respective coalition partners have made some astronomically poor decisions relating to all aspects of society, not just in fiscal matters,” said MimnaghFlemming. “We went from a surplus budget to a deficit that is inexcusable. It’s
understandable why people feel let down and don’t trust the judgement of politicians in general.” For the build-up towards March, Mimnagh-Flemming points towards the younger generation as the spearhead for this change, not only as voters but as politicians too. “There are several young councillors running for Fine Gael across the country. Simon Harris in Wicklow, Liam Quinn in Laois-Offaly, Pa O’Driscoll in Cork and Catherine Yore in Meath West. Each of these candidates is under 30,” she explains. “Real change is needed in Leinster House and I am of the belief that voters will now actually read political manifestos and will vote for a political party that has genuine policy on issues such as health care and political reform.” Mimnagh-Flemming strongly believes that Ireland’s future prospects are bright but stresses that “people will have to vote for change in order to achieve it.” “The young people of this country should not have to literally pay for the mistakes made by an incompetent government who in recent times seem more concerned about their party rather than the country,” she stated. However she warned those who weren’t considering voting in the election that “your future is ultimately in your hands. If you don’t vote, you instantly give up your right to have a political opinion.”
Having the biggest increase of voting preference from 12 to 24 per cent, the chairwoman of UCD Labour Youth, Aisling Molloy, said that she was “absolutely delighted” with the results. “I think that the election will bring positive change and the parties that I hope that will get in, will get in, and be able to make a change,” said Molloy. “But I think that people need to recognise that it will be a process that will take an awful lot of gradual steps and lot of work…to reach the top in the coming years.” Molloy noticed a change in people attributing more importance towards politics in general saying that “I think one of the few positive effects of this is that people are starting to realise just how much of an effect politics can have on their lives, and just how important it is that they take an active role in changing it for the better.” When told that 88 per cent said that they felt let down and didn’t trust the judgement of politicians, Molloy expressed disappointment at this trend. “The sad thing about it is that we’ve all been cornered with the same brush just because of the mistakes of a minority,” she
said. “It doesn’t surprise me but it does sadden me that that is the case” She believes that most voters will approach the election with caution and will look for “the people who are least corrupt and who are going to be the most financially honest.” But overall, Molloy sees her party as the one that can take the country forward and stated that “I think that it would be better to keep the party that has the best national interest at heart and the party that represents that for all of us. I am certain that that is the Labour Party that represents that for all of us.”
The only other party to experience a drop in vote preference from 6 to 4 per cent, chairperson for UCD Young Greens, Conor Murphy, didn’t believe there would be a severe change in voting saying that “obviously the green vote will be down but there’s a core voters that I think will support [us]…but I don’t think we’ll be absolutely wiped out, I hope not anyway.” Regarding the other political parties running, Murphy felt that “there’s a difference in saying you like something and actually going and voting for it… I’m not sure what will turn out on the day. I wish it would be more drastic for the left but I don’t think it will be.” Murphy believes that the build up to the election will experience a greater change in how voters and politicians prepare for 11th March. “The thing about a recession is that it challenges the status quo. In the last election and even the election before that everyone, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour were all saying pretty much the exact same centre policies,” explained Murphy. “So a recession gives politicians the chance to say what they actually feel giving a different point of view…[and] it’s a necessity that young politicians are coming up.” Regarding students’ interest in the election. Murphy said that he hadn’t seen an increase in awareness saying that “people have always liked quick answers” to help decide who to vote for. His hope is that those students who are looking for change will hold onto those same values for elections long after this one has passed. “Students have been left to centre and socialist since the 1960s and you kind of wonder where all those students go to when they grow up,” says Murphy. “I suppose that when in these recessionary times, I hope students, as they go forward, could hopefully hold onto the more socialist ideals [for future elections].”
Question 2 Do you feel let down by politicians? Yes: 88% No: 12% Question 3 Would you like to see more young politicians? Yes: 85 % No: 15 % Question 4 Do you trust politicians’ judgement? Yes: 12 % No: 88 % Question 5 Do you feel the outcome of the general election will have a positive or negative effect on Ireland’s future. Yes: 72 % No: 18 % Don’t know: 10%
Question 7 Who did you vote for? FF: 17% FG: 14% Labour: 12% Green Party: 6% Progressive Democrats: 3% Sinn Fein: 4% Independent/ Others: 10% Didn’t vote: 34% Question 8 Who will you vote for? FF 5% FG: 20% Labour: 24 % Green Party: 4 % Sinn Fein: 11% Independent/ Others: 20% Undecided: 16% Question 9 How much do you blame Fianna Fail for the Ireland’s current financial predicament? Completely: 15% Very much so: 39% To some extent: 35 % Slightly: 8% Not at all: 3%
Question 10 How politically engaged are you? Question 6 Very politically Do the financial engaged: 12% troubles make you Politically more or less likely engaged: 27% to vote? Average: 33 % Yes: 81 % Slightly: 17% No: 19 % Not at all: 11%
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 1 February 2011
News News in Brief
UCD student attacked in Chicago Students’ contracts hospital superbug Union advise USI on seven priorties for semester two Amy bracken
Natasha McShane was brutally beaten during a year studying abroad in Chicago as part of her studies.
In June 2010, McShane’s parents issued a statement in which they said: “we are mindful that the road ahead of her will be long and hard. Nevertheless we are extremely hopeful that we will eventually get our beautiful daughter back to a place where she will be able to lead a full, meaningful and independent life.” Following
the contraction of the hospital superbug before Christmas, this now hangs in the pipeline. McShane is understood to be undergoing more surgery next month to have a plate inserted in her skull. Her family say that the improvements made thus far are as now “hardly visible” as a result of the superbug contraction.
even proposals have been put to the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) by UCD Students’ Union, who hope that USI will adopt them as key priorities for this semester. The proposals, dealing mainly with issues of welfare and education, were sent to the USI for consideration as top priority motions for this semester. In response to the pay cuts of student nurses which were implemented on December 22nd and the scheduled abolishment of all payments to student nurses by 2015, UCDSU called for an active campaign against these actions, and stated that it should be made a national priority for USI to have these salaries restored. Also, as a result of increased applications for postgraduate programmes, UCDSU has responded by calling for a state guaranteed loan system for students who either cannot obtain a loan from certain banks, or who cannot afford the hefty interest rates. UCDSU President, Paul Lynam stated that while UCDSU and the USI oppose all third level fees, it is understood that students fees for fourth level are a requirement. However, he states that financial aid should still be available for those who need it. In order to seek the adoption of the guaranteed loan scheme, UCDSU proposed that the USI appeal to the Department of Education and the Department of Finance. Issues that deal with the USI itself were also addressed. UCDSU are proposing that colleges who do not pay their affiliation fees be subject to sanctions, including suspension and expulsion from the USI rather than just losing their vote at Congress. Additionally, it was proposed that a taskforce made up of local CEOs be established at the first National Council of the USI in order to advise the President on issues relevant to students for inclusion in certain documents, such as the lobby for the Oireachtas. While UCDSU acknowledged the federal nature of the USI, it also emphasized that each institution is independent and therefore proposed that the USI must liaise with and seek the permission of individual colleges regarding local institutional issues before commenting on them, either in support or in condemnation, on a national level. The Student Assistance Fund (SAF), which is available to any UCD student who is suffering from ongoing financial difficulty, is included in the priorities. The SAF may become targeted in government cutbacks, and the Students’ Union are asking that USI contest any cuts to the SAF while also simultaneously campaigning for increased funding. Other proposals made by UCDSU include the creation of a Money Management Awareness Week Finally to promote the sensible management of money among students. The campaign would be run by the Welfare Officer and confront matters relating to financial aid as well as providing students with a guide to their budgeting problems.
UCD graduate who was recovering from an attack made with a baseball bat in April 2010 has reportedly contracted a hospital superbug. Natasha McShane, 23, from Silverbridge, Co. Armagh, and a friend were viciously beaten with a baseball bat in Chicago last April while walking home from a night out. McShane, a UCD graduate, is understood to have been making a good recovery but that the contraction of the superbug had impeded that. She contracted the superbug after having brain surgery performed before Christmas. Having been in a coma for weeks following the attack, in June 2010 McShane’s family reported that she was in the process of recovery and that she had had enough rehabilitation therapy to help her walk again. However, it is the understanding of The University Observer at the time that her recovery has been reversed. An article published on thejournal.ie said: “A family member has told the Irish Daily Mail that the recovery McShane made through her rehabilitation treatment has now been reversed by the infection. They said that the improvements she had made “can no longer be seen.” McShane was completing a Masters degree in Urban Planning at the University of Illinois when the attack happened. She had planned to travel around the United States before returning to her home in Northern Ireland. She initially began her recovery in the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago before returning to Northern Ireland in July 2010. US police used mobile phone and credit card records in the aftermath of the attack to charge two American women with the attack on McShane and her friend, Stacey Jurich. The two women accused, Heriberto Viarmontes, 30, and Marcy Cruz, 25, both deny any charges pressed on them in relation to the attack.
R LFA WE
• RAG week in UCD RAG Week took place in UCD last week where more than 40 society events and fundraiser took place. With the aim of creating a stronger following for RAG week, UCD Societies Council and the UCDSU Ents Crew had originally planned to run RAG week in conjunction with TCD RAG week. However due to the postponement of exams it was decided to hold RAG week in the second week of term. Events such as ‘The Naked but-not-so-naked Fancy Dress Fun Run’ and the rescheduled Christmas Ball were among some of the events that took place on campus. Acts such as Blue Moose, S Club 7 and Five were dotted throughout the usual lists of nightclub promotions, and events such as a charity 40-foot jump raised money for charity. Students’ Union Ents Officer Jonny Cosgrove described the week as a success regardless of the delay; “There’s a good buzz on campus,” said Cosgrove, “There’s something going on all the time everywhere.” The aim of the week was to raise funds for the UCD Community Outreach Fund. • UCD Fashion Show The UCD Fashion Show returned to campus last week after a two year absence. The event, which has been previously run by groups outside the university and staged off campus was been taken over by the Students’ Union and took place in O Reilly Hall. Students’ Union Ents Office Jonny Cosgrove spoke to The University Observer prior to the event and said that the SU’s involvement meant that the show would be more accessible for students: “We’re changing the format this year. Rather than one big, over-eccentric show where people can’t afford tickets, we’re doing three shows.” The show ran from Monday to Wednesday during RAG week, with Irish model and UCD student Rozanna Purcell on hand to help with the preparaitons. • USI campaign to register 50,000 students to vote The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) launched a national campaign to register 50,000 students to vote in the upcoming general election. The campaign, called “Your Future, Your Vote” was launched at Leinster House on January 21st. The USI plans to tour the country on the USI Election Express (Branded Campaign Bus) over a two-week period, visiting every third level institute in the country with the aim of increasing the turnout of young people in the election. USI President, Gary Redmond, said he believes the opinions of younger people have been ignored for too many years and that “young people in Ireland will shoulder years of crippling debt thanks to the mistakes of the current generation and we will not tolerate a single second more of lackluster governance from Irish politicians.” Redmond also cited the November 3rd march as having been a warning to politicians of the actions that students are prepared to take to secure their futures. - Dan O'Toole
1) STUDENT DISCOUNT DEALS Emergency Dentists Discount is now available. Great Student Discount on Fillings, extractions, wisdom teeth assessments. Phone 01-2692932 and you have to present a UCD Student card. Want to learn how to drive while in college. Ring Ollie from OB drive and take advantaged of the great Student Discounts. €22.50 per lesson. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 087-665126
2) Need Legal advice
Information clinics are held in the Student Center Room 3 every Wednesday 2pm every week from week 3 where we can deal with individual queries in person. This is a private and confidential service. For more information email email@example.com
3) Want a Fresh Start
UCD Students Union is running the Fresh Start campaign next week where students can take up new habits or hoodies and have a Fresh Start to Semester Two. If your interested in quit smoking and want to get help email firstname.lastname@example.org, want to correctly budget for the year ahead or you want to get active within Sports watch out for the Fresh start Posters across campus.
Pop into Scott, our Welfare Officer in the Student Centre or contact him at email@example.com & phone 017163112
1 February 2011 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Students’ Union and INMO to fight for nursing salaries
International students must pruchase Irish health insurance
CD Students’ Union (SU) in conjunction with USI and eleven other nursing colleges around the country have launched a campaign to oppose the government’s decision to scrap the €200 per week salary allotted to final year nursing students on work placement.
nternational students pursuing studies in Ireland are being required to purchase Irish health insurance in order to obtain a student visa. The University Observer understands that a number of international students were unaware of this stipulation when applying for a visa. UCD Students’ Union Education Vice-President James Williamson said that this is a result of new regualtions introduced a few years ago but which were not properly implemented. “To the best of my knowledge all of the changes were communicated to all students in their home country and here as well”, Williamson stated. “It was just depending on what office you went to that it wasn’t implemented properly.” Williamson further added that a new directive has now been released in order to ensure that the new regulations are implemented in Immigration Bureaus nationwide. However he acknowledged that as a consequence of the release of this new directive there are a “small minority of students who are caught in the middle.” Student adviser for International students, medicine, and biomedical, Carl Lusby, said that students who require an Entry Visa are normally required to present evidence of private health insurance for the Irish Embassy. “However while the legislation on private health insurance was in place, the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) didn’t always ask for evidence of it, so many of the students didn’t purchase it,” explained Ms Lusby. She states that the students in question were Malaysian who don’t require an Entry Visa although she admits that “the whole matter of heath insurance has been a bit of a ‘grey area’ so it’s not surprising that some of the students may feel it has only just been brought in.” Concerns had been raised as regards the implications that the issue surrounding visas would have for student fees. Williamson clarified the issue stating that students’ tuition and registration fees would not be affected. However those students who are affected by the implementation of the new regulations will have to cover the cost of additional health insurance. Williamson said that students in this category will “need additional health cover from Ireland to make sure that their visa application is successful.” Williamson informed The University Observer that the UCD Students’ Union intends to work closely with the USI in order to ensure that such a situation does not arise again. The representative bodies will endeavour to ensure that all information regarding directives and regulations for prospective and incoming International Students is communicated to them prior to their arrival in Ireland. Williamson indicated that those students who are experiencing such difficulties in obtaining their student visas should contact any of the Students’ Union representatives. He stated that he would be “liaising with the International Office for updates on that because they’re well aware of the situation and what’s going on.” Ms Lusby said that while she has explained the situation to Malaysian students in the past, she needs to ensure that all of them understand the regulations. “I will have to emphasise that the regulations are likely to be enforced more rigorously in the future.” She stated that since the students requiring Entry Visas already knew about it, it has never hindered them.
The decision taken by the government in December plans to abolish the salary altogether by 2015 and was a measure that was initiated without consultation with third level nursing colleges. SU Campaigns and Communications Vice-President, Pat de Brún, explained why the Students’ Union is taking such swift and serious action on the matter: “The big issue around it is that nursing internships aren’t like placement for any other course; because you actually have full medical liability, and it works out that for every two student nurses in a hospital, you remove one nurse, and it’s the exact same responsibility and the exact same liability.” SU President Paul Lynam said of the fact that there was no consultation between the government and third level nursing colleges: “The INMO said that it was Mary Harney’s parting shot.” De Brún said, “There was no official communication to this, either to academic institutions, to nurses or to hospitals. This is something that has just filtered down from the Department of Health.” De Brún also added that many student nurses are unaware of the proposed cuts. At a campaign meeting in the Health Sciences building last Thursday evening, approximately one hundred students attended, ninety of those were of a nursing background. The remainder include Law and Health Sciences students. De Brún said that the impression gotten from the meeting was that the campaign has “very broad support.” Lynam explained that this is not simply a SU priority. “We’ve outlined to USI that we see it as a top priority for them for semester two.” He furthered explained that the 12 nursing colleges in the Republic are encouraged to become involved in the campaign. De Brún outlined their immediate plans to tackle this problem. “We’re asking people if politicians can knock it out over the next two weeks; make sure that they’re not allowed leave the house without asking them for a pledge on this.” Lynam stated that an open meeting is being planned for today (1st February) in the Gresham Hotel at 7.30 to get public contributions regarding campaign tactics. “We’re going to look up tactics…nothing is solidified yet.” The INMO said of the government’s proposal “The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) strongly condemns, rejects and will overtly oppose, the proposed attack, as confirmed today by the Department of Health and Children, on the pay of working student nurses.” As regards final year nurses replacing qualified nurses, the INMO said: “The INMO would stress, contrary to the suggestion by the Department of Health, that during this 36 week period the student nurses are replacing staff nurses and are an integral part of the workforce at ward level, providing essential, direct and immediate bedside care.”
UCD embroiled in age discrimination controversy Aoife Brophy
staff member of UCD was awarded €5,000 by the Equality Tribunal for being discriminated against on the basis of his age. Dr Ian Cornelius, who was the head of the School of Information and Library Studies, applied for a professorship position in 2008. He had been working in the University since 1978 and was aged 63 at the time of his application. In a meeting between the Head of Human Sciences, Professor Brigid Laffan, and Dr Cornelius, Professor Laffan advised that she would not consider someone so close to retirement for a professorship and advised him not to apply. An article published in the Irish Times said that Professor Laffan informed Dr Cornelius that the position was intended for an external candidate or ‘new blood’ and that an internal candidate would not be considered. Dr Cornelius later reported that this meeting upset him greatly and on the advice of Human Resources, he took his complaint to the Employee Relations Manager.
After the Employee Relations Manager failed to respond and in November 2008, Mr Cornelius was informed that he did not make the short list for the professorship despite recommendations from external assessors. Professor Laffan has claimed that she made the comments on a personal level and that she was merely tried to prevent disappointment to Mr Cornelius. UCD attempted to argue that because of Dr Cornelius’ late application for the job; he had already been involved with the recruitment process as he held a position on the recruitment committee. They also claimed that he did not meet the criteria set out, despite evidence of relevant work experience and numerous academic achievements in his field. The Equality Officer appointed to the case, Hugh Lonsdale, found that UCD had discriminated against Mr Cornelius and was in breach if the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2007. He ordered UCD to pay Dr Cornelius €5,000 in compensation. In his report, Mr Lonsdale said that he did not understand why the principal of human sciences would tell Dr Cornelius he was too close to retirement age to be
Dr Ian Cornelius was awarded $5,000 after being discriminated for his age.
considered for the post, if in fact he had not been shortlisted because he hadn’t met other essential criteria. Professor Laffan declined to comment on the matter. When contacted by The University Observer, Dr Cornelius also declined to comment saying, “I won’t be saying anything until the period for any appeal on the decision has past (which is) February 3rd.”
Do n wo ’t ta ask rD fo ke ou gr our r it. r aD uat L aw .. es!
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 1 February 2011
News International News in Brief • University Of Toronto, Canada A report by the University’s Planning and Resource Committee has proposed changes to its academic programmes in an attempt to cut back spending. The report, prepared by the Working Groups on Organisational and Financial Efficiency, was to identify areas within the university where savings could be made. Among the measures suggested, dropping some MPhil courses where student numbers are low was proposed. If carried out, it could save the university £100,000 per year for each course closed. The report also shows that only 11 per cent of supervisions take place on a one-to-one basis. By increasing the student-staff ratio to two-to-one, the groups estimated that the university could save £600,000 per year in payments to supervisors. The groups were set up to form a contingency plan to cope with the bleak outlook of the most recent budget. • Bristol University, England The BBC has apologised to students for unfairly representing them in a news report about heavy drinking. The piece, which reporting on the rise on binge drinking, happy hours and alcohol deals, was recorded during a Student Union pub crawl and implied that the students had been drinking heavily that night, yet students complained that they had been informed the report was about general student life and not specifically regarding alcohol. Those filmed claimed that they had been encouraged to show their drinks to the camera. They felt that it left viewers with a bad impression of the university’s students. Student Union president, Owen Peachy, defended the decision to allow BBC cameras to film claiming that the footage was to supplement his earlier interview. In it, he outlined the effort the Union makes in educating students on the effects of heavy drinking. • University of California, Los Angeles UCLA has received a $100 million donation to aid research and construction projects within the university. $50 million will be allocated to the UCLA school of Public Affairs and will be allocated towards graduate student fellowships and other academic programs. The other $50 million will go towards the construction of a residential conference centre and facility club. The construction is estimated to be $160 million, with $120 million being covered by bond funds. The facility centre hopes to provide a larger, indoor/outdoor dining area and more meeting space. The donation was made by UCLA alumni, Renee Luskin, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1949. The donation is the second largest in UCLA’s history, the largest being $200 million donated to the UCLA school of Medicine nine years ago. - Quinton O’Reilly
UCD staff unit to defend academic freedom A Mathilde Guenegan
n informal meeting open to academic staff in Irish higher education institutions took place in Dublin on January 22nd where over 200 academics were present from the majority of Irish third level institutions. University and college staff were brought together to discuss the future of academic freedom arising from the controversial implementation of the Public Service Agreement 20102014 (the ‘Croke Park agreement’), which had been sent to all the academics by UCD’s Governing Authority. They voiced their fears that economic pressures, government policies and university management priorities might lead to a change in the terms of employment of university faculty. Professor of Philosophy, Dermot Moran, shared his concerns, ‘I have been a full professor in UCD for the past 21 years and I have to say I am deeply dismayed by the recent efforts of some of the management in UCD, acting unilaterally.’ The call was launched by former president of the Teachers Union of Ireland, Paddy Healy, who said in his opening address: “Citizens have a right to objective information on the content of food products, the safety of struc-
tures and other engineering systems, on pollution of the environment, on aesthetic matters and on health issues. Academics must retain the unrestricted right to give this information.” Academic freedom is protected on the legal field by section 14 of the Universities Act 1997, which states that ‘a member of the academic staff of a university shall have the freedom (…) to question and test received wisdom, to put forward new ideas and to state controversial or unpopular opinions and shall not be disadvantaged, or subject to less favourable treatment by the university, for the exercise of that freedom. A lecturer at the School of Mathematics, Dr. Thomas Unger – does not unilaterally reject the idea of industrial research partners. Yet he claims that the partnerships must respect the independence of academic staff; there must be no question of suppressing unwelcome research outcomes or impeding the development of knowledge as has happened in a number of cases abroad. The consequences for Irish universities will be significant and damaging such as a potential exodus of the top academics. As a result of the meeting it had been decided that a petition would be launched in each institution, which aims at calling on the Governing Authority to make a declaration in favour of academic freedom and ensure an effective protection of the tenures.
Professor of Philosophy Dermot Moran is one of the many academics opposed to the Croke Park Agreement.
UCD staff face mandatory redeployment Ben Storey
CD staff may face compulsory redeployment due to new proposals agreed upon by university management. Under the new proposals, if a staff member does not freely agree to change their role within the university when asked, they will be forced to do so as part of the new scheme. The most prominent repercussion imposed on staff members, if mandatory redeployment is necessary, will be the suspension of any future annual increment pay rises.
This policy of mandatory redeployment is part of a wider plan that has been put to the university under the terms of the Croke Park agreement of last year, which saw a series of negotiations between the government and various public sector unions following the financial budget. Different plans have been sent to the six other universities in the country. However, the specific plan for UCD puts a stronger emphasis on the necessity for the need of “re-deployment, re-organisation and rationalisation within the college,” due to the “changing economic and social circumstances” that the country pres-
ently finds itself in. Furthermore, the plan calls for the reviewing of different financial and administrative aspects within the university. This will include the reviewing of UCD’s “performance management” as well as its “incremental progression system.” According to the proposals, the longterm aim of this is to develop the relationship between academic workload models and the incremental pay rises that will be allocated to staff members as a result. In relation to these reformative aspects of the plan, set forth under the Croke Park agreement, the consent of
staff within the college will be sought. However, the plan does state that if these terms are not agreed to by staff, the suspension of the payment of their incremental pay rises will be prompt, and the money saved will go towards appropriate “promotional opportunities” instead. According to the terms of the plan, the policy of compulsory redeployment will come into effect in the university no later than a six-week period following the formal notification of all staff on the issue. However, it is not yet known when formal notification of the issue will take place.
1 February 2011 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
The young and the restless The results of this newspaper’s recent survey provided many telling results as regards students’ attitudes to politicians, writes Amy Bracken
or many years now the question of the disengagement of young people and politics News Editor has been brought to fore, with more and more campaigns being mounted to encourage more participation in politics among those who are perceived to be the future of the country. Additionally, the question of political reform is currently being floated, with websites such as www.politicalreform.ie being among those forums where many young people are contributing their opinions on political reform. The University Observer this week conducted a survey among students with these two key issues in mind with the aim of analysing the role of politics in young people’s lives and the links between young people and political reform. 85 per cent of those surveyed reported that they would like to see the introduction of more young politicians. 88 per cent said that they do not trust politicians’ judgements. Yet just 12 per cent classed themselves being very politically engaged. The list of youth political organisations such as Young Fine Gael and Ógra Fianna Fáil is quite long, but that is irrelevant as not only do their membership numbers fail to be representative of the youth population, but also additionally they are rarely
Students have demonstrated in the recent past they are more than willing to engage in political activity.
regarded as up-and-coming politicians. Additionally, with just 12 per cent of those surveyed claiming to be heavily engaged in politics, it is easy to see that something needs to be done to encourage more activity in these organisations. One means of encouragement would be if politicians began to take the ideas of such groups on board and consult them for opinions, ideas and potential recruitment. The burning question here is whether or not young people possess the knowledge and learned-
ness to be active in politics, and whether or not they feel becoming more politically active would make a difference. The University Observer asked those being surveyed what they would do to turn the political and economic situation in the country around. Ideas such as paid compulsory attendance at the Dáil, an end to party politics, and changes to the electoral system were proposed. When asked of their opinion of the role young people have to play in politics, one stu-
dent said: “Ideally they should play as much of a role as every other grouping in Irish society, but unfortunately politicians tend to dismiss the opinions of students.” What do these results tell us? While just 12 per cent are heavily politically engaged, students undoubtedly do have ideas for the running of the country. Thus, it is fair to say the students may become more engaged in politics if politicians made more of an effort to make students feel like their opinions are valued. It’s not that students need to be encouraged to participate in politics, but it is more the case that there is no one in government that they can identify with. The student disaffection demonstrated by these results is summarised in the opinion of one student who answered a question regarding their predictions for the future of the country: “Economically it will get better, but not for a few years, and not without a huge input from students, young people and entrepreneurs.” Politicians need to start accepting the fact that while the majority of students have opinions and ideas, young people are disengaged with politics and that it is time politicians took their proposals on board, in particular their proposals for political reform. How can a political system that is almost 90 years in existence be attractive to young people today? Additionally, the young adult population of Ireland is the most educated and therefore possesses the highest level of abilities to improve and re-
form the current situation in the country, so why are they still being ignored? With the resignation of many longserving TDs in recent weeks and the announcement from many more of their intention not to run in the general election, it seems that the first step may have already been made in ensuring the more young people are elected to the Dáil. In what will almost undoubtedly be a new era in Irish politics, perhaps politicians will throw out the old order and start to accept the fact that students are probably the ones with the best ideas and arguably possess the highest potential to change the country, the economic and political situations for the better. Finally, something that struck me from the survey was that it became obvious that young people feel politicians do not value their opinions and that the old order does not relate to them. One student summarised this general feeling when asked if they had any further thoughts on the state of Irish politics today: “The country needs to move beyond Civil War politics. New political parties to replace both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael may be in order.” Irish politics today rejects the fact that those who have the most potential to change and improve the system for the better are being pushed aside, and as a result, are becoming more and more disengaged with the political system. It remains unforeseen if this trend is set to continue or change for the better.
The price of placement
Trainee Nursing and Midwifery students perform the same activities as their professional counterparts, so why aren’t they treated equally, asks Katie Hughes
CD Students’ Un i o n has recently involved itself in a campaign to stop Deputy News Editor the gradual decrease in payments of final-year Nursing and Midwifery students when on placement. This measure was recently announced as a part of a cost-cutting scheme by the Department of Health and Children and was met with strong opposition by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association (INMO). Final-year Nursing and Midwifery students are currently being paid 80 per cent of the wage of their full-trained counterparts, which amounts to €200 per week, for their 36 weeks of placement. While some would argue this to be a waste of resources, it must be realised that with a hectic final year, this money is needed by students to survive. However, while doing a degree, is it really appropriate for students to be paid while on work placement? Surely the placement is a part of their learning? While they are carrying out the same roles as the trained nurses and midwives, these students have yet to complete their instruction and are not yet in the same fully qualified position. This is in no way meant to discredit the work of nurses or midwives on placement, who work twelve-hour shifts day and night. Yet it must be asked why a student nurse should get paid for placement and finalyear scientist who spends an equal twelve hours in the lab not receive the same treatment?
These nurses and midwives are dealing with people on an every-minute-of-everyday basis during placement, and running to meet whatever demands occur. They don’t have the comfort of a break when they want one and must be meticulously wary of their actions for fear of liability. In addition, they are expected to work hard to score highly on the final leg of their degree. The charge of responsibility is definitely a factor, being as accountable for a slip as a fully trained nurse is an uncomfortable burden to bear, but perhaps earning 80 per cent of the wage of a fully qualified nurse is surely a luxury that could no longer be sustained. It is unfortunate that hospitals where students go to do placement are not private like Price-Waterhouse Coopers and Canada Life where students studying Actuarial Studies have the opportunity to go on their placement. It is equally unfortunate that such severe cuts are being made in the nursing and midwifery sector which is just as demanding a course as others that go on paid, albeit not government funded, placement. With the current economic climate, it is understandable that cuts must be made, though in this case the decrease is extremely severe. By 2015, students will no longer be paid at all for final-year placement. With no time for a job outside of placement, and hospitals at times hours away requiring extensive travel, it is ridiculous to expect these students to be able to survive their last year of college purely on personal funding. Both Nursing and Midwifery students come under heavy pressure and stress throughout the course of their degree. Be-
Nursing students have complained about the drastic cuts which they face in the next few years.
cause of having to go on placement from year one, they have little time for a social life, let alone enough time to carry on a part-time job in addition to their already strenuous workload. Perhaps the question we should be asking ourselves is why are these students not paid from their first placement onwards? The answer to this, some might argue, is that every two student nurses that come on placement replace one fully qualified nurse. Perhaps, it being inevitable that cuts be made, students could get paid 50 per
cent of the wage each thereby balancing the missing nurse and eliminating the 60 per cent increase. However, even this 30 per cent decrease may have a detrimental effect on students. Final-year placement is the longest out of any placement that students undertake in their degree, requiring them to work twelve-hour shifts as well as weekends and night duty being a necessity. During this time, the trainee nurses and midwives are required to complete the same tasks and carry out the same responsibilities as a
trained professional. Surely this obligation warrants a payment of some sort. If their budget is completely cut and there is no reimbursement for their demanding work, are we not in a way condoning what INMO refers to as “slave labour?” Hopefully INMO and the UCD Students’ Union and other affected universities will be able to work together to prevent such an extreme measure taking place. If not, we will be sacrificing long-term stability and service of our health sector just for the sake of short-term cuts.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 1 February 2011
Tattoo or taboo? With the issue of tattooing still contentious in contemporary society, Natalie Voorheis explores the origins of the ancient tradition
n 1991 archaeologists discovered a naturally mummified 5,300-year-old man in the Ötztal Alps on the border between Austria and Italy. The man, who they nicknamed Otzi, was in an excellent state of preservation, with 57 tattoos clearly visible on his skin. Otzi’s tattoos, far from being the sophisticated images we associate with tattoos today, mostly take the form of short vertical and parallel lines. Despite their rudimentary nature, they are evidence that the practice of tattooing was being carried out as early as the Copper Age. Current academic opinion suggests that in the past, people did not get tattoos for aesthetic reasons but as part of a pain-relief treatment, similar to modern-day acupuncture. Radiological examinations of Otzi’s bones show significant degeneration which would have caused discomfort in areas such as the ankles, spine and in the knees, all of which are heavily tattooed. Otzi’s body signifies the earliest known example of tattooing. Throughout history, the art of tattooing has played a significant cultural role in great civilisations such as the Egyptians and the Greeks. The Egyptians reserved the art of tattooing specifically for woman. During the Egyptian New Kingdom, which began c1550 BC, the tattooing of abstract geometric patterns of dots and dashes gave way to a more representational mode of artistry. A wall painting from the period found in Western Thebes of a dancing girl with a tattoo of the god Bes on her thigh is one of the earliest known examples of a representational tattoo. In more modern times, the late 1700s is
an important period in the history of tattoos. During this period, Captain James Cook, the famous British Naval explorer made several trips to the South Pacific. On these expeditions, Captain Cook and his sailors encountered the prevalent tradition of tattooing amongst the people of Tahiti. After one trip, they returned to London with a heavily tattooed Polynesian called Omai. His striking appearance and the tattoos that the sailors had themselves acquired caused a sensation in British society, and a fashion for tattoos began to emerge in Europe. Tattoos have long been a means of identifying oneself with a group or culture and the rise of tattoos associated with gangs, particularly in large American cities such as Chicago and LA, is a modern extension of this. For members of gangs such as the Surenos, the MS13 gang and the Crips, nothing symbolises a commitment to their gang more forcefully than the gang tattoo. These images, which have served to create social divides between mainstream society and gang members, equally represent complete allegiance for the gang members to their chosen gang. However, modern celebrities such as Cheryl Cole, Rihanna and David Beckham have helped push tattoos into mainstream culture. Today tattoos are no longer as taboo as they once were. More and more, they are commonly regarded as a means of creative expression. The internet has also proved to be a fuelling factor in the spread of tattoo culture. Never has it been easier to share artwork or simply Google a concept and gain access to thousands of images thrown in seconds.
The University Observer spoke to esteemed tattoo artist Brendan Harte on the matter, who has worked on the Dublin tattoo scene for 25 years and runs his own business, Dragon Tattoo, from Dublin’s city centre. Harte explains: “It’s changing. Years ago you wouldn’t get a job as a barman if you had a tattoo, but now it’s becoming more acceptable…years ago it would have been mostly young people [getting tattoos] where their parents might complain but now the parents are getting tattoos as well.” Despite the increase in popularity of tattoos, Harte was quick to note that “there is that discrimination there, you could still be refused a job because you had a tattoo. But I generally tell people to get them where you can hide them especially, even still, girls.” Harte followed this by firmly stating that no matter what, “it is definitely your right to walk down the street with a tattoo if you want to”. Of the students interviewed on the UCD campus, many expressed views of striking polarity. First-year Arts student, Mark Graham, comments: “I don’t think tattoos create a social divide. I think it’s other people’s problem if they judge them.” In contrast, Mark Hughes, a second-year Biochemistry student explains: “If I saw someone with loads of tattoos all over their body I’d kind of consider them a bit creepy and I’d avoid them.” Meanwhile, Stephen Tennant Humphreys, a Social Science student, concludes: “I don’t think tattoos create a social divide. But I would say that tattoos would definitely contribute to a perception of someone.”
Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular in mainstream society.
Postcards from Abroad: Chicago In his latest travel column, James Fagan compares the horrors of airport-traumas to his newfound love of the NFL in all its glory
f being on exchange is a student’s idea of heaven, then airports must be purgatory. One must go through to reach those golden, or in my case frozen, lands afar. Like many travellers this winter, I had the complete nonjoy of having flights cancelled by inclement weather. As a result, I was able to sample the finer offerings of some of the transatlantic route’s finest (I use the term so loosely it may fall off the page) airports. Most of my disdain is directed at Chicago’s main hub, O’Hare. Upon my first day of attempting to get home, I arrived at terminal two to drop off a departing Argentinean friend. Thinking it was also my terminal, I let out of a sigh of relief when I saw that it was relatively big and shiny (that usually means comfort). Unfortunately, after a self check-in kerfuffle involving an angry fist-pound on the contrarian kiosk, I found out that I would be flying out of terminal five instead. In my defence it was the airport’s fault for omitting what terminal I was to fly out from on my check-in. Furthermore, everyone and everything in airports are perpetually stupid, especially devices labelled “self-service”. Following that stress, I discover that I will in fact not be getting my flight because Amsterdam, where I’m con-
necting, no longer exists on this Earth owing to apocalyptic snow. That $36 taxi ride I took to the airport was such a good investment! Flash-forward to the day I actually get a flight back to Ireland and low and behold, terminal 5 is as delightful as an Italian regional airport. The walls are several shades of gray, as are the windows, the floors, the seats and the full-body x-ray scanners. So much for smuggling a Burger King through to the foodless waiting area. I spy a vending machine – $3 for a Pepsi and $2 for a Twix. The economist inside me praises the airport management company’s monopolising tendencies; the weary traveller that I am, however, drops a couple of F-bombs. Out loud. In a public place. At an inanimate object. Facepalm. Following my sojourn in Ireland, where everyone is now perpetually depressed, I have returned to Chicago for the long haul. Moreover I can finally say that I am an NFL fan. The past couple of weeks have seen the playoffs decide who will play in the Superbowl in Texas come February 5th. For a glorious while, it seemed that the Chicago Bears would in fact make it to Arlington. The thought of living in this city as Cutler, Urlacher and the rest of the boys did us proud was so good it became all I could talk about for a period of about two weeks. I was having fantasies about the inevitable street parties/riots/ lootings. However, as faith and the Bears’ shocking inconsistency would have it, that dream will never come to pass. That
is, of course, until I can use science or magic to make it 1985 again. As soon as the game got underway, there were cheers and sighs as the teams battled it out. That very manly of expressions, the humble high five, became the only real way of communicating when die-hard fans roared as Bears regained possession. In the end however the bar fell silent, there was to be no victory for the Bears. No chance of reaching Superbowl XLV. Yet despite the defeat, it was clear from the sea of navy and orange that the fans had enjoyed themselves. At our end of the bar a crowd of us gathered around a mother and her infant son (who was wearing a set of Packersthemed pyjamas) and while a few of us shot the breeze with her, the girls went goo-goo gaga over the baby. Speaking with her, it was clear that she considered game days as being fun for all the family. One of my friends from the law school quipped that the baby might be a liability. I retorted: “It’s Sunday, NERD!” It’s strange how much the day reminded me of how the pubs back home were when I was younger – everyone chatted and had a good easy-going time. Being home at Christmas, it struck me how that culture has seemingly slipped away except for on rare, long-planned occasions. It’s a pity, because pubs and bars are social places and not just somewhere to get tanked before you hit a usually craptacular club. While they may not get Laverty engaged in many extra-curricular activities in UCD, including fundraising airports right, laid back enjoyment is one with MedSoc. thing the Americans certainly do well. James Fagan is a UCD student currently on The NFL is generally beloved by Americans and roundly ignored by everyone else. Erasmus in Chicago.
February 2011 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 181January 2011 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Mental awareness: Mental awareness:
Depression Suicide helplines the first of InIn the second a series on part of ourin series, mental health Natalie Voorheis issues Ireland, speaks toin Paul Leanne Waters Bergin of 1Life discusses mental about how mental health services wellbeing and cope with an everdepression growing problem. he term
mental uicidal behealth is haviours a concept pose a global that we are beginning public health to see again and again problem and Ireland in contemporary Irish Features Editor has not escaped this society. From online trend.to the The support organisations HSE World telling us Chief Features Writer on our televisionHealth screens toOrganisation “look after your mental health,” itreported appears that in there’s2005 no getthatting youth suicide rates in Ireland were to away from the challenge of having the take fifthon highest in all of thethis European and really consider seemingly Union. Health and social services in Ireenigmatic notion. land have under strain tobeing meetweightthe Withbeen so much importance demand to one caredoes andbeg services ed on in therelation term itself, to wonthatder, are what needed in this country. exactly is mental health? Accordto Sandra Hogan were of Aware Irelandby– a Ining 2009, 527 deaths recorded national support for depression suicide. During the organisation 80s in Ireland, suicide mental health can be seen inrise various rates–experienced a considerable and lights rebuthas in aestimated broader sense thecurrent emotionsearch thatrefers withtothe al and downturn, psychological wellbeing of any given economic these figures will again rise individual. along with unemployment figures. arecurrently many different YoungHogan men instates: rural “There areas are acdefinitions knowledged to for be mental most athealth, risk. but in general it refers mind, The issue to of our suicide is aemotions complexand onethought and how weasthink feel about ourmustprocesses; be understood such.and Causes of suiand simplistic others andbut howinvolve we cope with life cideselves are never psychoand its challenges. Mental health issues are logical, biological, social and environmental common and can affect any of us at any factors. Consequentially, no single approach time. Many factors can influence a person’s to intervention can hold the answer for mental wellbeing: difficulties in life (for treatment of those experiencing difficulties. example) relationship problems, financial This means a well-rounded system of soconcerns, bullying and loss are quite significial cant.” and medical care must be established and that education the public across It has becomeofclear in recent yearsthe that spectrum of age and social divisions in mental health has not been valued relaon the tionlevel to mental health is needed.deserves in our to which it thoroughly Common public has a signifisociety. On this opinion point, Hogan contends: cant“We effect onhave the adevelopment still long way to of go ainsociety terms of where issues health are not howmental we dealhealth with mental buttaboo I think and that where services to better. effectively as a the society we areexist getting provide“Young appropriate carereally for help thosewith with people can that mental problems. that The they destigmatising too,health so it’s important do what they of mental health plays a key rolesociety in can to help to issues make it a more open people withwas depression (and mental this.where Yet while suicide decriminalised in can get the and and support they 1993ill-health) in the Republic ofhelp Ireland 1962 need.” Ireland, the stigma attached to in Northern This being empathy it is something thatsaid, societyawareness, has struggled to and shake off.understanding remain factors of absolute necessity in creating a more open The Irish Association of Suicidology (IAS)and lays harmonious out a seriescountry of the for mostmental widelyhealth held to flourish. of the consequences beliefs aboutOne suicide in main the country. They of poorthat mental weare caninseefact, in daily life is explain thesehealth beliefs myths. depression. Aware.ie classes depression as “a The IAS attempts to oppose them by putcommon condition whichinto affects more tingvery the facts concerning suicide wider than one in ten people at any one time. Any circulation. According to commonly acof us, irrespective of age, gender or backcepted myth, those who talk about suicide ground can be affected at any point in our are the least likely to attempt it. The reality life. Most people come through depression is that around 80 per cent of those who take with help, and early recognition and ongotheir own lives will have talked about it to ing support are essential for a positive outsomecome.” significant other in the few months before On hand. this matter, there are several different Another commonly heldinbelief in Irish sovariations and forms which depression ciety,can which is, in fact, a myth is the hugely manifest itself. Among these are mild damaging assertion that if someone who attempts suicide will do it and there is no way to prevent it. In fact, the majority of those who take their own lives have mixed feel-
Ireland has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe per capita.
Bergin the differing nature of student run quires. Training takes approximately eight ings about doing so until the end. For most non-directive services such as Niteline and weeks and prospective volunteers are put people who complete suicide, there are overAbraham Lincoln was one of the many historical figures to have been regularly struck with depression. more professional, nationwide ones such through test calls in order to determine their whelming feelings of wanting to end their as 1Life. “Niteline is somewhat limited but suitability. The process is time consuming pain but not wanting to die. This may seem it can’t be anything else other than what it and Bergin is weary to give The University a subtle difference but it is a crucial one. and moderate depression, depression, through of anythe issues withofsomeone is because nature how it close.” is set up Observer details of its exact nature due to ing For many Irish people, severe talking openly as well as bipolar disorder. The be latter of these Universally, January is seenBergin. to be He onemade of and how it’s run,” explains the delicacy of the issue of anonymity and about mental health issues can challengconditions, in its most primitive of explathe most depressing times on the calendar, clear the difference between the two services confidentiality that surrounds it. ing, people feel uneasy about how to face the nations, involves periods of extreme depreswith January 22nd be thestudent sadby explaining that reported Niteline to involves issue and many hold the belief that talking sions and of extreme highs, along with the dest day of the year. It remains that time of volunteers while workers for 1Life are “psyabout suicide encourages it. Actually, raising usual symptoms of a depressive state. year when the celebrations have wrapped chotherapists and councillors at the end of the issue of suicide with those who are deThese symptoms, which are seen in all up, when reality and responsibility have the day”. pressed or distressed can aid the commenceof the above conditions include: feelings fallen firmly back on the ground, when the Although the advantages of getting a simiment of their therapeutic intervention and of boredom, sadness, lethargy and anxiety; weather promotes something along the lines lar perspective on the issues you are having bedisruptions the beginning of a heeling process. in normal sleeping habits; poor of pathetic fallacy and when funds are probas aatstudent, whichAnd is what offers, Today there are low a number of excellent supconcentration; self-esteem and feelings ably their lowest. with Niteline the ongoing are enormous. Bergin says that there’s port services around the country on a local of worthlessness; a loss of interest in socialeconomic turmoil that is hitting the major- an element of concern regarding “Iftoyou and national level. Theand, premise that talking ising and pastimes; of course, suicidal ity of the nation, it seems all too this. natural thinkforabout it, there is what a veryis good to thoughts. somebody about how you are feeling can allow submission into truly achance dethat with Niteline, you risk anonymity in a be instrumental in acknowledging your feelAccording to the experts of Aware, the pressive state. big way andinthat’s whyofanonymity is such a ings and beginning with them. conOn foundations of thisto of deal mental ill-health Moreover, a matter such magnitude big of issue forpersonal Niteline.” a student level, these organisations include dition can be rooted from many contribuand such properties, it is nothlieve in our own invincibility while we are differencewith between thetors. Please Talk campaign and the They state: “Depression hasNiteline a numingFurther less thanoutlining necessarythe to approach an so young. the two services, Bergin elaborates; free servicecauses. and on national level,it berphone of possible Fora some people, air of delicacy and understanding. It is“Nitean However, the reality remains that despite line has this view thatissue the four worst 1Life andabout Samaritans provide services life of comes as a result of a traumatic important facet of the to not givewords in our somewhat audacious views on what we the English event descriptions. such as bereavement, relationship toyou thecan will hear of aninapparent cloud Language of negativ-are varying can and can’t handle, we as students are exbreakdown, financial difficulties bullying. ity. In theyour knowledge some point ‘I took advice’ that – theatreason beingorthat The organisation Please Talk isorone who tremely vulnerable to the threat of mental thethat person may have another willpeople all suffer some mental none ofwe these arefrom professionally qualowes“In its other namesituations, to this idea talking can ill health. Social life and academic studies tendency towards depression, health indeed depression itself, it ified toissue takeorthese calls.” aside, without prioritising our psychologibeana inherent heeling and positive process. Please and such genetic factors caninbethe key in the becomes easier lightenlevel one’softroublesome cal and emotional wellbeing, we run the risk Despite the to different experience of Talk has a significant presence student case of bipolar disorder. mood disorload through waysservices, and outlets. Firstly, of1Life causing more than a workers for many the two Bergin seems began in damage Octobertoofourselves 2009 and deals community. Established in This January of 2007 involves notTalk just periods of depression, we Aware Hogan a little bit €230 failed with module causesintervention. to our bank Beractohave remain in itself. support of talks student involvespecifically suicide in der UCD, Please advocates that talkperiods of elation, the pertheysuch do. as Niteline, stating: counts. mentthe in work services gin explains: “It’s a much more hands on about ingbut is also a sign of strength, notwhere of weakness. mood ishas significantly higher than2007 nor“Aware provides andvent emothe than topicwhat of student vulnerability, “It’s set up so thatinformation students can their typeOn of role your average listening Itsson’s prevalence grown rapidly since mal. During these periods, he/shethroughmay have services for both that individuals Hogan would decisively expresses issues.support It’s worth mentioning there is a services be. They try tohergetposition: you [the tional and it is now active in 27 colleges who experience and also family “Yes students youngown people are at riskIt difference in thedepression suicidal nature in the calls” caller] to comeand to your conclusions. outexcessive Ireland.energy with little need for sleep, may have grandiose ideas and may engage members/friends concerned for a loved one. of mental health issues. There are a lot of between the two services. would be more affirmative in its actions. If The University Observer spoke to Paul Berin risk-taking behaviour.” Services include loCall Helpline (1890 303 changes that permission, happen during “Although of course Niteline does take the caller gave they adolescence may ring up gin who works for 1Life, a suicide helpline. Now that we can argue with extraordi302) open 365 days a year; support groups and when combined with the transition calls of a very serious nature. 1Life takes the the ambulance for the caller for example. Bergin studied Psychology in UCD, and nary confidence that depression and mennationwide and online; email support serfrom would school to college, itthis canmore causesoprobsame callers over a period of time, but with They encourage than wanting to gain an insight into the world tal ill health are not only dangerous to any vice (firstname.lastname@example.org); free informalems. Niteline, every call is treated as a new call. most listening services would.” he saw himself working in, began by volindividual but that they are also extremely tion and online discussion forums. Aware “Mental health issues can impact on a More of a relationship is built up between Bergin describes the service 1Life provides unteering for Niteline in his second year common, here we must consider the threat also offers a Beat the Blues secondary person’s confidence, it can cause relationthe callers to 1Lifeprogramme and the councillors.” as being more directive than other helplines schools of of college, eventually becoming head of the these things to students. awareness to increase ship difficulties, and it can hamper studies Bergin cannot detail the nature the calls stating that they actively inquire the caller as service. Bergin spoke about the different In a time when we are contending with knowledge of depression amongofyoung as well. So it is very important to get help. to either services, but said that there are a to what course of action they could take for services provided by Niteline and 1Life and so many demanding factors, we as students people and enable them to identify sources Eating a balanced nutritious diet is imporvery wide variety of issues. “It’s obvious them. “What can we do for you right now? gave hiscome professional supmust to termsopinions with theon factthe that we of help in their lives.” tant. [As well as] limiting alcohol intake if from statistics over the last few“create years that Can youtouplow with this counsellor? Can port available in Ireland areservices potentially damaging our currently. own mental The the foundation’s mission is to a you we are set prone mood, getting regular suicide was going down in numbers until we call a family member and let them know Niteline requires a two-year commitment health. It seems a natural occurrence to besociety where people with depressionupand exercise, having close friendships [and] talkthe recession and it’s flown back up again. In what kind of state you’re in? It’s much more from its volunteers, who are exclusively stu2008, it was about 429 people then in 2009 hands on. It’s very good, I do think its somedents and does not allow first years to apply it went up by about 100 and is expected to thing that works.” in order to preserve the dedicated working go up again. The University Observer discussed with ethos that a job of such responsibility re-
400,000 different people suffer from depression in It’s obvious from the Ireland at any one statistics the time, butover many hidefew their condition last years that and never help suicide wasget going down in numbers up until the recession and it’s flown back up again
“Of course, when they give these statistics it doesn’t account for a large amount of cases that are not officially deemed suicide. “There are cases for example where there may have been a note left and yet they are not officialtheir families suicides,” are understood andBergin. supportly deemed explains “It’s an ed,underestimate are free from stigma have to numa if youand will, anaccess official broad of appropriate tobetween enber,range but you’re looking attherapies anywhere able5 them to reach theirhigher. full potential”. is put and 25 per cent You needIt to a voluntary establishment formed 1985three it into perspective. You’ve got in nearly by times a groupasofmany interested patients mental people takingand their own life health professionals, whose aim was to assist as you do people dying on the roads.” that section of the population whose lives Feelings of isolation are always connected are directly affected by depression. intricately with suicide. Bergin explains that The website goes on to explain: “400,000 people who feel they cannot go on have different people suffer from depression in reached a point where they feel entirely Ireland at any one time, but many hide their along in their suffering. Considering this, condition and never get help. Sadly, over allied coverage 500Bergin peoplecalled take for theira more own life each year. of the different services available in Since its foundation in 1985, Aware Ireland. has Heworking says: “there isn’t antoallied you’ve been energetically bringeffort, support five or six different at difto got depression sufferers andorganisations their families, levels areand supposed to be doing andferent to dispel thethat myths misunderstandjob. Thereillness.” isn’t that one unifying ingsthe of same this devastating group.” In a context of such a deeply sensitive Bergin wentthe onright to say that can this come lack of a subject, perhaps words unified group isOne somewhat debilitating. from few sources. source may be “There isn’t one single Lincoln. service that says you found in one Abraham Lincoln go here, here of in historical terms of difwascan among the here mostand famous characters who wasorknown to have suffered list ferent options has a fully established mental ill health and had aThere “tendency of options for helplines. shouldto be a be greater melancholy” and once commented that connection between the different such an affliction is to be observed as it is “a services out there.” misfortune, notofa specific fault”. suicides in the media Coverage On matter, Lincoln this sad is athe complicated issue said: with“In studies showworld ours, sorrow comescan to all; and, to ing of that some reporting cause so-called theclusters young, of it suicides, comes with bitterest suicides agony, in or copycat because it takes them unawares. The older certain areas. Bergin states with conviction; have to everyou expect it. more awareness “I learned think when create “Perfect relief is notyou possible, exceptthe with about something, help fight issue.” time. You cannot now realise that you will However, the education of mental health ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is and availability of services and helplines a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. must be reported upon not just for suicide To know this, which is certainly true, will rates to decrease, but to try and break down make you some less miserable now. I have the social barriers that leave so many sufferhad experience enough to know what I say; silence. anding youinneed only to believe it, to feel better 1Life is a 24-hour professional counselling serat once.” nationwide. They can be contacted Forvice working more information, visit www.aware.ie. on 1800 24 7 100. Niteline is available during term time on Mondays from 9:00pm to 1:30am and until 2:30am from Thursday to Sunday. They can be contacted on 1800 793 793.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 1 February 2011
Le lasadh lampa bheag bán... Le stiúideo Pixar ar an saol le 25 bliain i mbliana, breathnaíonn Meabh Ní Choileáin ar an turas dochreidte atá déanta acu ó na laethanta tosaigh
íl ach áit amháin ar domhan gur féidir smaointí a phitseáil go rathúil faoi francach le scileanna cócaireachta ar aon le chuid Jamie Oliver nó faoi róbat a thiteann i ngrá agus é ar thuras spáis, ag déanamh iarracht an chine daonna a tharrtháil le phlanda. Ní áit é seo atá suite i gcaisleán draíochtach nó i measc na scamaill ach oiread, ach sna Stáit Aontaithe, i gCalifornia. Dár ndóigh, is é stiúideo Pixar atá i gceist. I mbliana, tá 25 bliain de scánnáin bheochana á chéiliúradh ag Pixar agus ag breathnú siar ar an liosta mhórthaibhseach atá acu, ní chreidfá gur thosaigh sé go léir le lampa bheag bán. Sa bhliain 1986, léirigh bunaitheoir Pixar, John Lassester, an ghearr scannáin Luxo Jr., a thaispeáin an stíl leithleach a bhí ag Pixar, cé nach bhfuil sé ach dhá nóiméad go leith ar fhad. Bhí an scannán rathúil ón tús ach ní an ríomhbheochan amháin a bhí daoine tógtha leis- thit siad i ngrá le Luxo agus Luxo beag ag imirt lena chéile agus leis an liathróid. D’athain daoine an phearsantacht agus an chroí a bhí tugtha do na rudaí neamhbheo seo agus b’shin go díreach an freagairt a bhí ag teastáil ó Pixar ón bpobal. Anois tá Luxo beag mar lógó don chomhlacht agus aon uair go bpreabann sé trasna ár scáileáin roimh thús scannáin, tá a fhios againn go bhfuil turas iontach eile de chuid
Pixar os ár gcomhair. Más cuimhin libh na hoícheanta sin agus sibh níos óige, ag coimeád súil amháin ar oscailt sa leaba ar bhur mbréagáin, tá an seans ann go raibh sibh díreach tar éis Toy Story, an chéad príomhscannán le Pixar, a fheiceáil sa phictiúrlann. Ag fás aníos sna nóchaidí, is scannán é seo a thugann sainmhíniú ar ár n-óige agus fiú anois, agus muid ag freastal ar an ollscoil, is muidne na daoine a threoraigh na sluaite i dtreo an bpictíurlann nuair a thánig Toy Story 3 amach an samhradh seo caite. Is é sin an éifeacht atá ag scannáin Pixar ar dhaoine; fanann siad linn go deo agus ní féidir linn ach draíocht éigin a cheangailt leo. Ar an iomlán, tá aon scannán dhéag léirithe ag Pixar, ina measc: an tríológ Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, WALL-E agus Up. Ón liosta seo, tá rogha scannáin ag gach duine. Más sárlaochra ag troid ar mhaithe an chine daonna a thaithníonn leat nó seangán beag gorm ag iarraidh a féiniúlacht a oibriú amach, cabhróidh Pixar leat teacht air. Dár leis an bhfealsúnacht atá acu, níl na féidireachtaí teoranta agus is fiú breathnú ar gach rud faoi dhó mar is minic an rud is nórmálta an rud is suimiúla. Thar aon rud eile, is é an áilleacht agus an ardéirim a bhaineann le Pixar ná an inniúlacht atá acu mothúchán agus taithí an duine aonarach a ghabháil trí samhlaíocht pháiste. Cé go néiríonn leo tithe a chur ag
Lárionad siopadóireachta Dhún Droma: An bhfuilimid fós ag caitheamh airgid?
faoileoireacht tríd na spéire leis na mílte balúin agus bréagáin leanaí a chuir ag rith ar crios iompair an aerfort, fós féin, tugann Pixar faoi roinnt mhaith de na mhórcheisteanna. Leagtar béim ar lochtanna na gcarachtair chomh maith leis na buanna agus brethnaítear ar chuid de ghéar réaltachtaí an saol chomh maith. Is léir nach síscéalta simplí atá i gceist leis na scannáin seo, ach fórsaí láidre a thugann aghaidh ar an mbás agus an aimrideacht, ar theaghlaigh briste agus ar
bhulaíocht. I mbliana, cuirfaimid fáilte roimh Cars 2 sa phictiúrlann agus an bhliain seo chugainn, Mosters Inc. 2 agus Brave. Má tá aon rud foghlaimthe againn ó stiúideo Pixar go dtí seo, is é gur féidir linn lán-mhuinín a infheistiú iontu. Mar sin, is cinnte go bhfuil gach duine ag tnúth go mór le Luxo beag a fheiceáil ag preabadh trasna an scáileáin arís. Nach iontach na féidireachtaí a thagann chun solais le lasadh lampa bheag bán!
Scannáin bheochana – animation films Mórthaibhseach – impressive Stíl leithleach – unique style Ríomhbheochan – computer animation Rudaí neamhbheo – inanimate objects Príomhscannán – feature film Inniúlacht – ability Géar réaltachtaí – harsh realities
E-volution With the usual low figures of students attending lectures since the beginning of this semester, Faye Docherty and Natasha Murtagh investigate how the online revolution has rendered attending class inessential
ourse documents, announcements, contacts, assignments and so much more can all be found on our beloved Blackboard. UCD Connect has brought about a new community of internet-reliant and up-to-date students who seem to be informed on just about everything. It’s no secret that there are more empty seats in a lecture and more occupied couches at home these days. A majority of students feel that relying primarily on Blackboard is as beneficial as attending their lectures, but will this luxury hinder a student’s experience of college? Will future students of UCD become a generation foreign to the idea of face-to-face contact? In today’s fast-paced world, it should be no surprise that online education has become increasingly accessible and remains ever expanding. Universities, colleges and institutes are focusing their attention more on web-based education, exploring and discovering what it has to offer. It is being promoted as the best way forward, yet this can be seen far beyond the Belfield campus. It’s happening in most universities across Ireland and throughout the rest of the world. Education Editor of The Irish Times, Sean Flynn, makes the point that Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has grasped the concept of online learning to its full potential. MIT has a web-based publication called Open Course Ware (OCW), which contains the entire course content of the various programmes that are on offer at the institute. The OCW contains the full course material of 200 different undergraduate and
graduate subjects taught at MIT, including architecture and planning, science, management, humanities, arts and social sciences. “If the Massachusetts Institute of Technology can do it, I can’t see why we can’t do it,” says Flynn, questioning the inefficiency of Ireland’s online education abilities. This effortless system for students to attain all information from their lectures without even stepping inside the university’s grounds is a perfect example of where education is heading. Web-based education illustrates how our global community is gradually relying on what technology and the internet can provide for us. Hibernia College Dublin is another third-level institution that, according to Flynn, has taken advantage of technology and pushed online learning to a successful programme. In their mission statement online, it states that the success of this model is due to it being ‘dedicated to helping professionals meet their current work challenges and by continually building on the interactions of students and faculty’. On demand content, live virtual classes and learner communities are the three forms of content with which a student at Hibernia will collaborate, all of which are online. For adults with children or mature students who are balancing a job as well as trying to get a degree, this method of learning is ideal. Flynn says that what Hibernia claims to have done is “the first real test of online learning in Ireland, education based, at a high level, and it’s been very successful, and it shows you how successful this distant form of learning can be”.
With companies and institutes such as Hibernia making great strides in this area, there is no denying Flynn has a point. Web-based education will help
much more than just novice students not bothered to travel into their nine o’clock Monday morning lecture. It will provide a system so that anybody, at any age, can
Students have become increasingly dependent on online materials as a source of learning since the internet came into widespread use in the late 90s.
further their education. However, this colossal advance in technology regarding education does have its handicaps. Emma O’Reilly, a second-year Business and Law student, says that “most lecturers would put up most of their notes, and that’s basically what they go through in the lectures, and they say they say stuff in the lectures that they don’t put up on Blackboard, but they don’t”. The fact students are finding more information online does not seem to bother nor hinder the students of UCD. There is no evidence of a decrease in the amount of students completing their degrees after their course has finished because of the option to skip classes and lectures. Will this burgeoning phenomenon completely change the teaching methods in colleges for future generations and mean the idea of a nine o’clock lecture on a Monday is an alien one? Gone are the days of chalk and dusters and so we must advance for the benefit of future generations. In the words of John Dewey: “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” Granted students use far less paper and pens, instead choosing to depend on their laptops but isn’t that just a case of students moving along with the times? Nowadays, it’s impossible to ignore technology, let alone survive without it. Embracing new ways of learning is essential if universities wish to engage with an ever-changing student demographic. The transformation is already well underway, but how it will change to suit the needs of new students is anyone’s guess.
1 February 2011 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Driving and thriving? As driving lessons become compulsory for first-time learners, Sarah Doran asks if we have become better behind the wheel in recent years
n June 2010, Ireland was awarded the 2010 Road Safety PIN Award in recognition of the rapid improvements in road safety nationwide. Between 2001 and 2010 Ireland experienced a 47 per cent decrease in road deaths. This achievement is significant considering the number of people now driving on Irish roads. As many Dublin taxi drivers will regularly complain to you during your journey home, ‘there are just so many cars on the road these days’. According to the most recent accessible figures obtained from the Road Safety Authority (RSA), as of December 31st 2010 there are around 2.6 million people currently holding Irish driving licences, at both the full level and learner permit level. This marks an increase of around 40 to 50 per cent in comparison with figures recorded in the early 90s. In 1993 for example, there were around 1.5 million licence holders. Therefore, it would appear that the number of road deaths have decreased by around the same percentage as the number of licence holders has increased. This considered have we as a nation become better drivers? Or have other factors contributed to national success in developing a reputation for safety-conscious and successful use of Irish roads? In order to assess the capabilities of Irish drivers, it is essential to examine the process through which a full driving licence is obtained. The RSA’s Director of Driver Testing and Licensing, Declan Naughton, states that “the driver test follows a standard model, in other words there are certain things that it checks and we’ve agreed on those across Europe”.
A significant number of young Irish people have been killed as a result of road accidents in recent years.
Despite the broad similarities in testing across Europe, it has recently been claimed that the Irish driving test has become more difficult. “What has happened internally in Driver Testing Services is we’ve looked at and we’ve reviewed the way we mark an individual if they come in for testing,” explains Naughton. “We’ve tweaked that to focus on those typical issues that are life and death issues.” He is all too aware of the common complaints of those who have failed the test, those dejected drivers who “got done for mirrors”. Naughton explains that whilst some may feel unfairly treated should they fail the test based on something as simple as mirrors, these small issues are often of paramount importance when driving. “What research tells us is that observation is a critical competency to have for somebody driving,” he says. The Irish driver test is also designed to examine the ability to identify and react to hazards, which Naughton believes is another critical competency that good drivers must possess. “It’s one of those things that you can only learn gradually,” he explains. “It takes a little while before you become comfortable at that and then being able to look at your broader surroundings. You see that child up ahead playing with a ball on the side of the road and you say: ‘well, it’s possible that the ball could come out and the child could chase it out and then you have an accident,’ those things you develop as you get more practice and experience. “That’s why, for example, we might nowadays have a greater emphasis on those kinds of features like observation, like hazard identification, like how people set themselves up when they’re turning right on the road because they are accident causers.” Despite claims that the test has become more difficult, the RSA maintains
that pass and failure rates have not been affected. “The pass rate is broadly similar to what it was five to ten years ago,” Naughton says. “I think what’s happened is, for example, parents are now more engaged in the driving, they’re conscious of safety, they’re telling their kids to become engaged with an approved driving instructor, they’re taking them themselves for lessons. “I’d like to think that even though the test has become more focused, people are adjusting to that by training, learning and practicing those things that we’re looking for.” He believes that the internal focus on hazard identification and observation has ultimately been beneficial in the long term: “There have been huge strides in the last five to six years and some of that is attributed to a more focused driving test.” Others such as third-year History and Politics student John Simpson are less optimistic. “I think people learn how to drive and do what it takes to pass the test, but then ultimately revert to their old habits afterwards,” he states. “I’m mainly a cyclist and I can tell you that there are many bad drivers out there, so I don’t think people are any better. There is an attempt to regulate, but once people pass the test, they just slip into old habits and do what they want to do.” Final-year BA International student Aodhán Taylor, like many well-intentioned students before him, has some experience of the driver testing system. “I started driving, got my provisional, was driving for a few years and then stopped because I was in Dublin and it wasn’t worth my time having a car here,” he explains. “It seems a lot harder now for people to actually get a full licence. You would hope that the time it takes people to get a licence would actually make them better drivers.” Of course, one of the key issues for stu-
dents (and indeed for the wider population) is the cost associated with learning to drive. From April 2012, lessons for first-time learners will be mandatory. This new rule may ultimately prove a deterrent to those who simply cannot afford professional lessons. Indeed, Simpson cites “the expense of insurance and stuff like that” as a major obstacle and one of the reasons he has put off learning to drive. Taylor also admits that “it would be quite a challenge because of the cost; you have to take so many driving lessons now. They’re not cheap, so it would definitely put me off [learning again].” It has been asserted that increased regulation on Irish roads has also proven pivotal to the improvement of driving standards. In 2006, mandatory alcohol testing was introduced in an attempt to clamp down on individuals who were driving under the influence. In 2007, this policy was further strengthened with the introduction of tougher penalties for drinkdriving offences. Most recently in 2010, new legislation was passed, lowering the legal maximum blood alcohol concentration limit from 0.8g/l to 0.2 for learner, novice and professional drivers and to 0.5 for all other drivers. Perhaps one of the most famous policies with regard to road safety regulation came in 2002 with the introduction of penalty points. The system initially proved successful and as Naughton states, “it had an impact; there’s absolutely no doubt about it”. In 2001, before the introduction of penalty points, there were 411 deaths on Irish roads. In 2003, when penalty points had been in place for a full year, road deaths dropped to 335. Yet in 2004, the figure had risen once again to 374. Naughton provides an explanation behind this trend saying that “their effect tapered out somewhat by the end of 2003 and unfortunately numbers increased again. That was also an experience in
the North when they introduced penalty points,” adding that this “would give some credence to the belief that they became a fact of life, people factored them in to their behaviour and then they lost their impact after about 18 months or so and people came back to old habits again.” However, Naughton believes that speed cameras have proven incredibly significant in reducing road deaths and increasing driver awareness. In October 2010, a greater number of safety cameras were deployed nationwide in order to combat careless driving and speeding, which had proven directly responsible for at least 80 Irish road deaths in 2009. Naughton states his belief that “in the years since 2005 particularly, there has been an increased awareness of road safety from the driver’s point of view, the walker on the road, the vehicle, maintaining our vehicles and all aspects of road usage. We [the RSA] feel that there’s a much higher awareness now. We think that safety cameras will have a positive impact and that that will be maintained.” Improvements in road conditions must also be considered: those who drive through country lanes on a regular basis will perhaps have a greater appreciation of this problem. Has a combination of more focused testing and greater regulation ensured that Irish drivers are better drivers now than they have been in previous decades? Statistics indicate that road deaths have decreased and so would suggest that Irish drivers are now more safety conscious. From experience, Simpson remains somewhat sceptical that drivers have improved. “I’ve been hit by three cars and a taxi over about two-and-a-half years of cycling to college,” he explains. Taylor takes a slightly different approach to the issue. “I don’t reckon that they are better drivers,” he says, “but I think people are more aware of the penalty of not being better drivers.”
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 1 February 2011
Ragging behind Compared to other campuses, UCD’s Rag Week is relatively quiet. Sean Finnan asks why this is the case and how it could be about to change
aking u p for a breakfast of last night’s half-empty cans of flat beer, trying to convince yourself that the hair of the dog actually works is the usual method of recovery for many students during Rag Week across the country. UCD’s Rag Week, however, lacks the reputation (or notoriety) that corresponding events in other universities conjure. It is a problem that most of the Dublin campuses seem to have where the universal bonding that brings a terrific atmosphere to the cities of Galway and Cork, is somewhat flat in here on our beloved campus and indeed around the Dublin area. Is it due to the size of UCD and the fact that the festivities seem to assemble in certain parts of the college (and yet are completely absent in other parts of the campus) that makes the event somewhat fragmented? Second-year Health and Performance Science student Niall McGovern spoke to The University Observer about the problem he perceives of Rag Week on campus. “I suppose a lot of people live at home in Dublin so there’s not the whole campus vibe, the same as down the country or whatever. There’s no deal about it. Nobody seems to really care about it. Down in Cork you don’t have lectures for the week so everyone is just hanging around the campus just having the craic.” Rag week, however, still has an important place in the college’s social calendar. Each year, hundreds of UCD students participate with their fellow classmates in raising much-needed funds for their charities of choice, usually in a manner of mayhem and fun. The University Observer spoke to UCD Students’ Union Ents Vice-President Jonny Cosgrove on why he believes this year’s turnout for Rag Week
We’re building a foundation this year so that within a few years, we’ll be at the same standard as the west
A student enjoys the finest festivities UCD has to offer last week on campus.
has surpassed previous efforts and how he is hoping that this week is just the start. “It’s going really well, I’m really happy. It’s going much better than the years before purely based on the fact of branching out and talking with the likes of Mike Pat and my predecessors. “What we’ve done is worked with the society’s council to make sure that everyone is involved. The Union touches so many people but everyone has their niches in the societies so between all the
different societies and different events, we have had hundreds of students involved with constant things happening on campus, rather than having something big and bold. We’re building a foundation this year so that within a few years, we’ll be at the same standard as the west.” Unlike Galway, for example, UCD has never had the problem of drunk and disorderly students wreaking havoc on local communities to such an extent that college authorities deemed it necessary to
cancel the week. In 2009, approximately 25 students were arrested. This reputation has transformed NUIG Rag Week into something of a pilgrimage in which thousands of students from all over Ireland endeavour to remain drunk and enjoy the fun of the highlight of Galway’s social calendar. Although this is certainly the highlight of any Rag Week, its reputation is not wholly positive. With previous years Rag Weeks being
Body and soul
something of a let down, UCD Ents’s main focus for this year is on getting a bit of a buzz round campus rather than just raising funds for charity. “The aspect hasn’t been on the whole raise-and-give element,” says Cosgrove. “Whatever we raise I’ll be happy with that. I think so far, still roughly speaking, there’s a few grand raised. If we raise a euro I’m happy, but were going to aim for over the three grand mark and have that build up from every year here on up. “It’s in aid of the UCD Community Outreach Fund which is a new fund myself and the societies have set up. Basically, it is a UCD-founded charity type thing. It’s a tester to see how it works out, but I think it’s going to be really good.” With societies such as Jazz Soc proclaiming this Rag Week to be their busiest in memory, it seems that there is a vibe emanating from the UCD campus. If this atmosphere can extend beyond the nucleus of the Student Centre, then perhaps a Rag Week worth comparing to the west will arrive.
With body language such a huge facet in daily life, Leanne Waters looks at what is being said in the conversations of the subconscious
ody language is a concept that has been played around with a great deal in contemporary society. However, it is not a modern invention, nor is it an exclusive characteristic of the human species. The most accurate form of non-verbal communication, researchers have gone, as far to estimate that approximately 60 to 70 per cent of what we communicate to others is not through the use of words or verbal exchange. But rather, that we are constantly sending, receiving and subconsciously interpreting messages being exchanged via our body language – from posture, to gestures, eye movements and facial expressions; ‘reading’ one another’s body language can tell us the mood, feelings, attitude and even state of mind of our given company. Body language is a necessity in the animal kingdom. And yes, despite the beliefs of the self-convinced hierarchy among us, we too be-
long to this kingdom in which the utilisation of body language is anything but primitive. In 1995, Susan Falder compiled an article, “Animal Body Language”, which claimed the winning first place of the prestigious ASBA ‘Golden Bell Award” for K-8 Curriculum. In her research, Falder states that: “Kinesics, is the study of non-linguistic bodily movements, such as gestures and facial expressions (...) and is an important way to study different ways of communication within different species. Animals meet with others in various ways: through reproduction and the raising of the young, in defining and observing rank, through defending territory, and mutual warnings against dangers and enemies. “All this and much more depend on an animal understanding the moods and intentions of others of its kind, on adapting its own behaviour to these cues, and influencing the behaviour of others in turn. Since animals, unlike humans, have no words to communicate with each other, they use signs of all kinds. This non-verbal communication plays an important role for us humans, too, both as a complement to and a precursor, which means
one that precedes and indicates, suggests, or announces someone or something to come, of language.” So how important is body language in our personal exchanges as students? We have all had that moment wherein that physical boundary has been crossed in some shape or form and has thus resulted in our own discomfort. A perfect example of this discomfort and indeed the inspiration for this very piece would be the recently unwanted caress of this writer’s knee on a morning bus. Said moment – or something very similar – occurs for almost everyone, regardless of gender. For the most part, what sets these boundaries comes down to individual personalities, upbringing and moral disposition. However, it is a naive contention to disregard the instinctive nature of humans and animals alike in overshadowing and solidifying our physical perimeters with one another. This being said, anyone who has frequented the Coppers dancefloor can surely attest to the huge alteration that context can make in our physical linguistics among peers. How we conduct ourselves in our daily behaviours
Pictures speak louder than words as Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz demonstrate above.
understands and adheres to a socially accepted standard, in which awareness and consideration play a huge part. One would never, for example, proceed to ‘bump and grind’ mid-conversation over a cup of coffee, right? And yet throw a handful of Jägerbombs and the words “from the window to the wall...” into the mix and said advancements become the status quo. Granted, here we find that motivation also plays a monumental role in our personal conductions; if on the dance floor, one is hardly being motivated by their desire to talk current affairs and ‘really get to know’ someone. Furthermore, much aside from the affliction of our own youth, most of us belonging to the UCD alumni are Irish. According to the researchers of eDiplomat, whose objective is to accurately inform non-nationalists of Irish cul-
ture, Irish people are “interested in people and place great value on the individual. “They are naturally courteous, quick-witted and will go out of their way to welcome visitors to their country (...) Although they work very hard, the Irish are dedicated to a less stressful lifestyle that allows time for friends and family, a visit to the pub, a cup of tea, or just a bit of a chat on the corner.” This observation claims that we as a people “are not very physically demonstrative and are not comfortable with public displays of affection”; that the Irish “are uncomfortable with loud, aggressive, and arrogant behaviour”. Though entirely down to individual interpretation and the idiosyncratic nature of people, our demeanour and the messages we are sending out is certainly something under consideration for the next night out in Coppers.
1 February 2011 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Arts for Arts’s sake? In light of recent plans to introduce a new technological university with an emphasis on workplace learning, Sinead O’Brien and Kate Rothwell debate the benefits of career and non-career focused degrees
o study ‘the Arts’ was once an admirable occupation undertaken by poets, authors and artists of exceptionable calibre. Sadly, such respect has not endured the test of time, for modern-day Arts students have to endure being the butt of other disciplines’ jokes and try not be disillusioned by seeing the words ‘pull here for Arts degree’ scrawled on a toilet roll dispenser. One thing that has remained constant is the long-term value of these ever-evolving studies. Our economic plight has produced a panic among students who fear (or hope, depending on their discipline) that those who have opted for career-focused degrees in areas such as Law, Business, Engineering or Science will have the upper hand when it comes to securing employment. A closer look at the abilities required in order to earn a good Arts degree, however, shows that students from this broader academic background possess exactly the skills that employers are looking for. A recent gradireland survey noted that employers were concerned about the writing, communication and time management skills of new graduates, as well as their ability to work independently. Any Arts graduate will tell you that excellent time management is a skill that a high GPA cannot be achieved without; organisation is key when it comes to composing the seemingly endless essays that result in superior writing skills. Such tasks quickly develop a student’s capability of working alone, while numerous group work projects lead to advanced communication skills. Arts students not only possess essential skills, they also have a wide range of career options to choose from after graduation. Students in career-focused degrees run the risk of realising after three or four years that they don’t want to be a journalist, an architect or a lawyer, or that even if they do, the opportunities to enter their chosen profession are severely limited. At least with Arts there is often a ‘trial run’ of subjects, so if one area turns out not to be to a student’s liking, it can be dropped in favour of another without any financial penalty. Another benefit of this broader style degree is that graduates are not limited to the options available within
here are many reasons why one might appreciate a general arts or science degree. Indeed, such disciplines have been extremely important in the development and understanding of human nature, society and the greater environment. These areas of study are undoubtedly fascinating, and have the propensity to titillate and thrill our intellectual stimuli. To be able to study such a broad and intriguing range of subjects as part of one’s degree is positively a luxury. But that is the sum of it. I do not wish to abate the merits of a general Arts or Science degree; however it is difficult to argue that the average degree in zoology or history will reap many awards for such a graduate. Many such qualifications simply lead those burdened by them into a life of public servitude or (even worse) into the teaching profession. And with our public finances in shackles, such positions are no longer an option. There is much to be said in favour of career-specific degrees, particularly those that are oriented towards a professional qualification. Such degrees as Medicine, Pharmacy, Engineering, Architecture, Law, Nursing and so on,
Arts students not only possess essential skills, they also have a wide range of career options to choose from after graduation.
The value of certain degrees has been questioned in recent times.
one or two professions; they can easily apply to a wide range of internships or postgraduate courses. Postgraduate qualifications are now becoming almost a necessity for those who want to be sure of a successful career, and Arts students are no exception to this rule. The ability to make a successful conversion from one discipline of study to another, demonstrates a certain set of skills that employers find particularly impressive; add a Masters in IT or Marketing to a high-grade Bachelor in History and Politics, English Literature or Modern Languages and it will be noticed that your talents are strikingly
flexible. The top two sectors of graduate employment in 2009 were accounts and financial management, and IT and telecoms, both areas in which Arts students can find employment if they so choose. This contention is especially valid upon considering how many companies pay to train employees who do not have the relevant qualifications in accounting when hired. This is not to say that there isn’t any hope for postgraduate studies in the Arts itself. Funding for further study is currently limited in Ireland, as are employment opportunities at any level of the Irish edu-
come highly regarded as they involve a high level of training and one might say a significant amount of drudgery, so that the student thus acquires a string of cogent and marketable skills. “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Any Arts student studying Yeats might appreciate the insertion of this quote. They might even attempt to use it to advance their argument that such career-focused disciplines only teach a student the requisite skills necessary to pass a professional exam and do not offer a student a broad and enlightened education. I would respond to such reasoning firstly by pointing out that professional skills include, aside from the particular intricacies of the given profession; the ability to analyse information, the ability to think critically and autonomously and most importantly, students endeavouring on a career-focused degree are educated in the commands of independent learning. And while career-focused students possess these seemingly basic yet imperative skills, there is nothing to stop them from learning of their own volition about other areas that are of interest to
them. The argument exists that in coming from a highly educated background, students embarking on a career-focused path are hungry to learn more and have the brains and the fire to do so. Certainly, we can all appreciate the works of James Joyce, read up on the fall of the Roman Empire, and teach ourselves C++ (although admittedly the latter might prove to be a formidable task for most of us) in our own time. And to further this argument, it might be worth pointing out how unnecessary it seems to go to University simply to study a foreign language when one can take classes in an extra-curricular capacity; or better yet, when one can immerse themselves in the language and culture of choice. That is, after all, how most of us learned how to speak English. And if you are not yet convinced that the world will not miss those students of the general sort, I would point to such accomplished figures as TS Eliot (a bank clerk before he was a poet), Antony van Leeuwenhoek (the man credited for discovering sperm cells was a tradesman with no higher education and no University degree) and John Grisham (lawyer-turned-author), to name but a few examples of people with actual
cation system, but aspiring graduates can also look further afield to other European universities. Modern language graduates are increasingly in demand in Ireland, but employment prospects are most likely better abroad, where being a native English speaker who can also speak other languages is a great advantage. For those who haven’t studied a foreign language, Canada and Australia are not the only options. A large number of university courses across Europe are now offered in English, thanks to students being keen to study through English and their universi-
I do not wish to abate the merits of a general Arts or Science degree; however it is difficult to argue that the average degree in zoology or history will reap many awards for such a graduate
ties being equally eager to attract more foreign students. The research involved in deciding where to apply may be daunting, but only because the opportunities are so abundant; there are Arts-aimed scholarships, funding and jobs to be found in continental Europe, where here they are sorely lacking. The value of an Arts degree is often underestimated. A wide variety of large-capacity Arts courses mean that the CAO points aren’t on a par with Medicine or Engineering, but while the unmotivated may graduate with a poor result, those who achieve a high GPA should be commended. Arts students may have minimal scheduled classes to attend, but countless hours spent in the library or at a desk at home easily fill up their timetable. The joy of this timetable however, is its flexibility, which allows those talented few that can strike the ideal work-play balance to participate in extra-curricular activities and further enhance their CV. The world will always need doctors, lawyers and engineers, but there is much to be said for the students who don’t know from the offset exactly where their studies will take them. A good Arts student is skilled, passionate, hard-working and without a doubt, highly employable. - Kate Rothwell
skills, who through profound curiosity and creativity sought to advance their understanding of the world and to pursue their latent passions. Career-focused courses tend to be more competitive. Entry-level requirements are higher and it is therefore no surprise that the academic capabilities of those students are intensified. Students from career-specific backgrounds are more likely to be vigorous in their studies than those students coming from general degree backgrounds. As a result, a high honours degree from a career-oriented course might be said to carry more weight than a high honours degree from the class of general degrees. Admittedly, there will always be exceptions to the rule, and I understand that it is unfair to label general degree students (namely of the Arts category) as being an undisciplined and lackadaisical mob. And likewise, students pursuing a degree in a professional/career-focused discipline are not always studious or even curious about other disciplines. However, this is the general perception that is publicly emanated, and in this case, such perceptions will speak louder than the letters on your diploma. - Sinead O’Brien
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 1 February 2011
The comedy drama of the year Ricky Gervais has been widely criticised for his style of comedy at this year’s Golden Globes, but Eoghan Dockrell appreciated his humour
atch an awards show and what do you get? A love-in; where winners thank their family, friends and distant relatives. For most viewers, these spectacles are cringe inducing. This is partly due to the horribly feigned modesty of the delivery, as prize holders gush about the brilliance of the unsuccessful nominees and namecheck almost every last loser in the room. Award shows aren’t all bad however, and what can make them worthwhile, or at least tolerable, is a funny host. And at this year’s Golden Globes, Ricky Gervais certainly succeeded at being funny. Reading some of the reviews of the show, you would be forgiven for thinking that Gervais insulted everyone in the room and then proceeded to throw a petrol bomb into the crowd. The latter is not true, and the former is only partially true, and mostly exaggerated. What Gervais actually did was deliver some cutting comedic blows to normally untouchable Hollywood royalty. And by royalty, I don’t mean jokes at the expense of Paris Hilton (there was practically a standing ovation a few years ago when a different host mentioned she would be going to jail). Gervais focused his comedic attack on the real deal, the likes of Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp and other high profile stars who are not accustomed to being at the receiving end of mean-spirited barbs, as Robert Downey Jr put it. Making normally immune A-listers the butt of jokes is healthy and only fair. A lot of these actors regularly depict real people and sometimes their portrayals of them are far from flattering and can even be wildly inaccurate. Take The Social Network as a prime example. Aside from Ricky Gervais, that film was the big winner at this year’s Golden Globes. The lead actor, Jesse Eisenberg, portrayed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a socially inept geek who is destined to be a prick all his life (those are the film’s words, not mine). So if those involved in the production of movies make fun of and criticise individuals, then it is only reasonable that these actors are occasionally made fun of, and Ricky Gervais did just that. Gervais took full advantage of his invitation and turned it into a kamikaze mission, as he relentlessly bombarded unsuspecting victims. Many critics felt that his first performance as host of the Golden Globes in 2010 was underwhelming, with most noting that he failed to land any memorable jokes all night. Clearly, Gervais had a point to prove this time around. And instead of making general jokes about Hollywood and the movie business, which is considered the safe route and well trodden by American comedians, he took the less travelled road and went after individuals.
The result was mixed depending on where you were sitting. On the one hand, if you were in the ballroom at the Beverly Hilton, you’d probably be seen pulling at your collar while laughing nervously, surrounded by gasping guests with shocked expressions. On the other hand, if you were one of the many millions of viewers watching at home, you probably enjoyed Gervais slagging off Tom Cruise or Charlie Sheen. From Gervais’s opening monologue right through to the end, where he signed off with “Thank you to God for making me an atheist”, the mostly Godfearing Americans suffered helplessly at his hands. I suspect that the general consensus among the organisers of the event, despite a few statements to the effect that Gervais “went over the line” and “would not be invited back again”, were likely to have been pleased with the extensive coverage received, generated largely by Gervais’s controversial performance. And even if Gervais is not invited back to host the show for a third year in a row, he shouldn’t be short of job offers. The critics who write furiously that he will be blacklisted are missing the point. Gervais provides a unique brand of comedy, one that is not fully catered for in the American market. His style is difficult to describe, but you could argue that part of the winning formula is attributable to his deadpan delivery of the truth – a comedic philosophy which often comes across as abrasive and is not to everyone’s taste. Gervais is a clever comedian who I expect will continue to capitalise on his growing popularity. For comedy’s sake
What Gervais actually did was deliver some cutting comedic blows to normally untouchable Hollywood royalty
however, let us hope that he will never sell out to the suits upstairs. Many comedians would do well to sit down and study Gervais’s style and a good place to begin would be watching the 2011 Golden Globes.
Ricky Gervais’s hosting of this year’s Golden Globes provoked an enraged reaction from many viewers.
University College Dublin
President’s Awards for Excellence in Student Activities You are invited to make a nomination for the President’s Awards for Excellence in Student Activities. The award scheme aims to provide recognition for those students who excel in extracurricular activities of a kind which make UCD a more exciting, interesting and humane place to live and to work. Nomination Forms: available from Forum Office (Ext. 3100), Students' Union and Services Desks. Any member of the College - either student or staff - can make a nomination. They should write, giving the nominee’s name and a short explanation of why they believe the nominee is worthy of an award. It is not necessary that the person nominated is aware of the nomination. Nominations, preferably typed, should be sent to:
The Director The Student Consultative Forum Student Centre They should be in an envelope marked ‘STUDENTS AWARDS’ and should reach the Forum office before: Friday 18th February, 2011
1 February 2011 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Fianna freefall After the recent array of ignominious events in irish politics, Sarah Doran looks at the state of Fianna Fáil and assesses what’s in store in the upcoming weeks
An unpredictable week in Irish politics has seen Brian Cowen come under further scrutiny.
hen Reeling in the Years finally documents 2011 it will be interesting to see if the catalogue of political events thus far can be successfully slotted into one 30-minute broadcast. The pace at which Irish politics is progressing – or as some would argue, regressing – has left the Irish people in somewhat of a collective stupor. It is now impossible to predict what will happen in the space of a week. Indeed, when you are perusing through this very
paper, there is a chance that further changes will be occurring: perhaps the date for the already-infamous 2011 general election will even be set. The past fortnight has played host to a whirlwind of revelations, accusations and resignations as Brian Cowen and Seán Fitzpatrick’s now-infamous dinner at Druid’s Glen fuelled the flames of political unrest. The electorate balked at evidence of yet another clandestine meeting. The image of the politician and the banker, conspiring to fraud the Irish people once again reared
its head; Labour leader Eamon Gilmore’s allegations of economic treason suddenly seemed less inflammatory. Cowen’s decision to turn to his party instead of the people for validation in the aftermath of the scandal could arguably be described as nothing short of political suicide. The Irish people were disillusioned with the political elite who they felt had failed to act in the interest of the people; when those same elites were awarded the opportunity to remove their beleaguered leader from power yet chose to keep him,
the electorate felt betrayed by their elected officials once more. Less than 48 hours later the tables had turned yet again. Mary Harney’s resignation came as a surprise to many; even Green Party leader John Gormley was unaware of the event until his wife informed him after watching the news. Three more ministers, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey and Minister for Defence Tony Killeen announced their resignations shortly after Ms Harney. Gormley claimed to have heard about these resignations on an RTÉ’s news bulletin the following morning. It was hardly surprising then, when Gormley and the Green Party pulled out of Government. It is difficult to comprehend Cowen’s political strategy in this instance. Indeed it could be questioned as to whether he possessed any political wisdom at all. The failure to communicate with his coalition partner echoed Bertie Ahern’s criticism of his failure to communicate with the people. It seemed beyond all comprehension that the Taoiseach was still in power. The jubilation following his subsequent announcement of his resignation as leader of Fianna Fáil was short-lived, as Cowen bizarrely announced that he would not be stepping down as Taoiseach. Minister of State Conor Lenihan perhaps summarised the events of a turbulent week most succinctly when referring to the series of events as “car crash politics”. The process by which the Finance Bill was rushed through the Dáil in order to facilitate a general election also arguably proved ample cause for concern. Politicians who protested against the contents of the bill suddenly promised to support it, eager to pass the measures they had so grievously opposed: this was all done “in the national interest”. But of course they had previously proclaimed that it was “in the national interest” that this Bill should not pass. Surely such an important piece of legislation warranted pervasive discussion? Was the Bill pushed through in the national interest, or in self-interest? In the current political climate it is difficult to distinguish one from
the other. To the observer overseas these events and those of the past year have proven a political soap opera. Ireland, formerly seen as an inspirational model for small European states, has now became a model, which gave grounds for thinking twice before following the same political route. The country has suddenly become the subject of derisory laughter in political and intellectual circles: how could the land of saints and scholars get it so catastrophically wrong? Even in Europe, Ireland has become a sore subject, as the recent clash between Socialist MEP Joe Higgins and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso illustrated. As one Irish man abroad told American newspaper The Irish Voice, Ireland’s political decline is “a little bit embarrassing”. What now for Ireland? The long-awaited general election will be definitive. Micheál Martin will lead Fianna Fáil into the electoral battle. Can the man once deemed the ‘heir’ of Jack Lynch, the last Fianna Fáil leader to secure an overall majority in the Dáil in 1977, pull his party through this crucial election? Could a Fine Gael and Labour coalition lead the country in 2011? Only the results of the election will tell. Use your vote and use it wisely. That said, at the rate Irish politics is moving of late, you may already have done so.
Conor Lenihan perhaps summarised the events of a turbulent week most succinctly when referring to the series of events as “car crash politics”.
The winds of change As protests against poverty and corruption in Tunisia garner more and more media attention, Bríd Doherty examines the reasons behind the revolt
n December 17th 2010, an impoverished street vendor from a small Tunisian town set himself alight in protest against poverty and oppression. This man, Mohamed Bouazizi, ultimately set the cogs in motion as Tunisia moved towards revolution. His death sparked protests in his hometown that quickly spread throughout Tunisia. People took to the streets to protest against unemployment, food inflation, corruption and the absence of freedom of speech. The protests ultimately led to the ousting of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who had ruled the country with an iron fist since 1987. The protests have been characterised by violent clashes between Tunisian authorities and protesters. The authorities reacted to the protesters in a brutal manner by shooting at them and launching canisters of tear gas to quell the uprising. Tunisian police beat many
international journalists with batons and their cameras were confiscated. Ben Ali responded to the protests by criticising the perpetrators and blaming foreign media for fostering a negative image of Tunisia. He also warned of severe punishment for those partaking in the protests. His remarks fell on deaf ears and the rallies continued and intensified. In an attempt to silence the voices of opposition he ordered the arrests of known critics of the government. Many outspoken bloggers and opponents of the Ben Ali regime were arrested, along with a well-known rap musician who openly condemned the regime in his songs. Eventually, owing to the strength of the protests, Ben Ali was compelled to dissolve the government and declare a state of emergency. It was also announced that people could not congregate in groups of more than three people without risking arrest or shoot-
ing. On the same day, Ben Ali fled Tunisia for Malta under Libyan protection. He was refused entry into French territory and thus landed in Jeddah as the Saudi Arabian authorities agreed to grant him asylum. This decision has been heavily criticised worldwide. Ben Ali’s departure prompted the Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi to assume power and briefly take over as acting president. Ali then announced his resignation from the role of President and Ghannouchi handed over power to a parliamentary speaker who was given the task of organising elections.In the wake of Ali’s departure, violence and looting continued. Utter pandemonium reigned supreme across Tunisia. One such example of this is the events that took place in Mahdia, where a prison director freed about 1,000 inmates following a deadly prison rebellion that left five people dead. Many other prisons also had jailbreaks or raids from external groups to force prisoner releases, some suspected to be aided by prison guards. Conditions across Tunisia have worsened as residents who were running out of necessary food supplies had armed themselves and barricaded their homes, even going so far as forming armed neighbourhood watches. Currently, as the situation stands in Tunisia,
elections will be held within six months and these will determine the direction the country will take and whether democracy will be established. The most immediate result of the protests was seen in increased internet freedom. Previously, online censorship was heavily enforced across Tunisia. Now citizens are openly able to criticise the regime and inform the world of events in Tunisia. It is also significant that Members of Ben Ali’s party, the RCD (the Constitutional Democratic Rally) have also been ousted from parliament while others chose to resign. More protests prompted these resignations as civilians opposed the presence of any former allies or supporters of Ali in government. While the post-Ben Ali future remains unclear, what has happened over the past week was a rupture of decades of secular authoritarianism under successive pro-Western dictatorships that suited the US and many western European countries. Tunisia was marketed as an island of stability in a chaotic geo-political sea, flanked by Libya under Muammar Ghaddafi, and an Algeria locked into a bloody civil war between religious fundamentalists and former socialist revolutionaries.
Protests by Tunisian civilians have led to the dissolving of the country’s government.
The image portrayed of Tunisia was far from the truth, as there was in fact a deep rot growing under the surface. The recent protests have highlighted how misconstrued the Western perception of Tunisia really was.Ultimately, the Tunisian uprising has sown the seeds of revolution in the minds of civilians in other Arab nations. It may inspire citizens of other countries to take to the streets with the sole ambition of ousting their despotic leaders and bringing a new dawn of freedom and democracy. Already, protests have ignited in Algeria, Jordan and Egypt. Perhaps the winds of change finally blowing in a region synonymous with brutal regimes headed by cruel dictators? Only time will tell.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 1 February 2011
Education, education, education A vote to maintain free thirdlevel education is imperative as it functions as the cornerstone of a civilised developed nation, writes Annette Mooney
The United Left Alliance includes members of the Socialist Party, the People Before Profit organisation and the Workers and Unemployed Action Group.
Talleyrand Gutentag goonbags, Talleyrand has grown quite weary of late with the complete and utter lack of any sort of activity on campus. There hasn’t been a year quite this bad since 1986-1987, when the Goonion couldn’t even organise a game of tiddlywinks in a playschool. You might think this unassuming commentator would welcome such a demise in Hackland – is this its last, dying strait? Will this ignoble kingdom (and it’s always been a ‘king’dom, hasn’t it?) finally fall into ruin? – but for sooth, how would Talleyrand vent all of this pent-up cynicism were the hacks not around to bear its brunt? Well, there’s always the sports clubs chipping away right next door. It stands to reason that there’s plenty of calumny and transgressions taking place within the third pillar of the Silly Consultative Forum, because there’s certainly none happening here. Nada. Zilch. Well that’s not strictly true. LoserSoc have managed to get their first event of the year off the ground, that being the loathsome Law Bawl. But it’s not just any Law Bawl, no. This is the 100th incarnation of that most supercilious of affairs, so expect many a €50 note to be smoked and plenty of ‘spend-offs’ between all the TBL’s in the room. You can be sure that the suckciety’s founders would be spinning in their graves if they knew of the egregious job Krappy Kieran McCarthy was doing, how-
ever. Talleyrand’s still waiting for Zac Efron, Eva Green, Martin Sheen and Daniel Craig to materialise on campus at some point. There seems to be quite a few balls heading in Talleyrand’s direction these days though. OrtsSoc (remember them?) are also launching their first event of the year, with their ball, as usual, needing support from the Goonion to get going (and here Talleyrand thought there was intense animosity between suckscieties and the SPooh). The first ball dangling near this commentator is of course the very intimate affair organised by those dark and festering thespians, Dramsoc. It’s sure not to disappoint, seeing as all of 50 tickets went on sale and have been snapped up by the committee and assorted hangers-on already. It’ll be unusual to see them washed, and dressed like normal people, but it will be a welcome development nonetheless. So long as they scurry back to their underground hovel as soon as the ball ends; you can’t have them getting notions that they can mingle with ordinary folk, y’know. Speaking of mingling with ordinary folk, Talleyrand spotted the Sap-batical officers waffling on in the Student Centre one day while the plebs tried to eat lunch from Café Brava’s gourmet menu. After delivering their mid-term reports, Talleyrand couldn’t help but think that there was more activity in the Union Jacks last semester than there was with them trying to complete their five manifestos. Maybe the lads have gotten distracted from their jobs? Maybe they’ve lost interest? Or (heaven forbid!) maybe they’re just useless? Whatever the reason, they’ve an easy ride from here until April, all except for Patty Boy. His record is coming up for review, oh, around March time, and Talleyrand’s not sure he’ll get the Presidential promotion that
he’s been craving since he first heard the words ‘Class Rep elections’. The Horrodor’s resident pensioner, Old Man Ahearn, has decided he just about has the energy in him for one last spin of the election wheel, this time facing off against his USDie counterpart, Repulsive Rebecca. She seems to have her heels dug in over at Centra Crumlin, though, and Talleyrand thinks Sanguine Scott may have bitten off more than he can chew. He is a sucker for punishment, as everyone knows, and it looks like he’ll end his ‘sterling’ career in Welfare the way he started it – with resounding electoral defeat. That’s if he even makes it as far as Catty Congress, with his current mental health state. Announcing his intention to run to the Reprehensible Reps last week, Scottie2Hottie could barely keep it together, dangerously teetering over an emotional precipice. Talleyrand recommends professional help. And a scented candle. But for the remaining three, it seems as though their escape routes have been plotted and punched in, and now they just need to sit back and relax. Come July, Salacious SLynam is sure to pick up a bit of parliamentary work with the new government. Maybe his buddy Cónán can put a word in with the lefties in charge? James “Apple products make everything better” Williamson is destined for a life happily-ever-after (seeing as he’s kissed and made up with his predecessor, that is). And Jonny “Booty call” Cosgrove? Well, he’ll take whatever’s being offered. Even if he’s on the other side of the country, in, oh, say, Galway, he’ll come running, any time of the day or night. Just call the big man now on 1800-J-CHAT. He’s waiting for your call. Talleyho! Talleyrand
ost of you embarking on or nearing completion of your third-level course will be all too aware of the student levy. You will also know that such charges always increase. Worse than this again, you face the prospect of no prospects, at least in Ireland, and the challenge of finding employment abroad. At this stage you might be angry, worried, despondent or so focused and busy that you haven’t the energy to spare or the confidence that any politician is truly interested. Some years abroad might be just what you want. The point is that increasing levies make it difficult for all and impossible for some to access third level. A third-level student who is desirous of achieving an honours degree spends three-to-five years working hard and living on meagre earnings. At the end of your Degree, Masters or PHD who will no doubt be sick of being poor and chomping at the bit to earn some money. If you are fortunate enough to have parents who can support you further with that break year away, you will still need to find work when you get back. There was a time when a degree was the pathway to a decent career; we should have that time again. As a student who does not have financial worries, you need to ask yourself what you can do so those less fortunate than yourself can get the same opportunity. So there are two main issues facing students, the first is the levy, which basically equates to third-level fees, and the second is job prospects. The solution, to what is known euphemistically as the economic crisis, the depressing and difficult times we have found ourselves dumped in by an incompetent government who were paid more than their worth to destroy in the most disastrous and frankly criminally negligent ways a vibrant functioning country, is job creation. No amount of cut backs, stealth taxes, increase in university fees, and withdrawal of basic services or other so-called austerity measures will make this country work. The outgoing failed politicians claim that they can get this country working again through a reinjection of your money, and the money you will hope to earn for many more years, into a reckless banking system. They want you to trust them, even though they have continually got their figures wrong, even though their measures haven’t worked and cannot. As a recent graduate from UCD and currently engaged on a PGDE, I would hope to have gained some insight into both the importance of education and the difficulties one faces if one is to stay the course. At a time when the country has been forced into a recession by a criminally incompetent government, a government that have made sovereign what should not be and sold what is not theirs to sell, we are in desperate need of intelligent, committed and imaginative people. We are in dire need of leadership in the immediate term. We need a strong investment programme that puts job creation
first. We need to rely on the huge amount of expertise and imagination of our people. We need the money to carry out such a programme; we already have the will. The United Left Alliance rejects the bank bailouts. We, like all reasoned people, know that at its most basic level a society can only function if a country approaches full employment. It is with employment that we pay for services. You have a right to work and a responsibility to. We believe in putting people before profit. We want to create an equitable society and we believe that this can only be achieved if everyone works and is paid a sensible wage to do so. We want to create a society in which everyone has the right and the ability to access third-level education. We want to create a society in which public heath care is available to all; we see the provision of private health care as both entirely unnecessary and morally reprehensible. Everyone can now see private health care becoming so expensive as to be only available to the rich, and people are beginning to see that making profits on the misery of others is just wrong. When you train as a medic you enter a profession whose purpose it is to bring relief to the suffering and help others, and while you should be paid well, everyone who works hard should be, you should not be so perverted by greed as to stand by and see an honourable and highly regarded profession become all about the money. The United Left Alliance have made a pledge to take the minimum industrial wage, to totally overhaul the political system and to end the situation in which someone votes for the person who meets their selfish wants, rather than someone who genuinely acts in the interests of the country as a whole. If you want to live in a two-tier country of those who have, because they can afford it and will do anything necessary to maintain the status quo, and those who work to serve them, then vote for Fianna Fail. If you want to live in a country that sees everyone as equal and valuable, a country in which we each contribute in line with our ability to do so, in which we all have rights and responsibilities, then vote for the United Left Alliance. We do not promise to make you rich, to fulfil all your wants. We do not promise to fix your broken gutter. We do not promise to deliver change over night. What we will say is that we are committed to working with you in making this a secure, contented and equitable society for all. Be a part of this exciting and challenging opportunity. Do not listen to the voice that says it cannot work the voice that tells you all politicians are the same, or to anyone who says that democracy is a joke and your vote does not count. Come along to our launch and let us work together towards common goals and turn our differences of opinion into workable solutions. Annette Mooney is a recent UCD graduate and United Left Alliance candidate in the forthcoming general election.
1 February 2011 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Letters to the Editor Sir, I write to you concerning a very pertinent matter, to which I am certain the vast majority of your readers can relate. The issue of book availability in the James Joyce Library has escalated to a dire point at present, and nobody seems concerned with tackling it. Admittedly, the recent improvement in opening hours is a most welcome development. It was simply laughable that a university the size of UCD, among the top 200 universities in the world, did not have an open library at the weekends for most of the semester. Thankfully, things have changed for this semester, and students now have more opportunities to concentrate on study and complete their continuous assessments. But one must ask, how long will this last? For this semester alone? What about next year? Will the opening hours be cut back again? Obviously these are separate issues that must be addressed when the time comes; students can rest easy for the time being. What must be addressed immediately, however, is book availability. Since September, I have encountered incredible difficulties in seeking to borrow books related to my course. Many of the titles published in recent years are simply not available, which
Sir, The situation for funding for postgraduate education in Ireland has reached a truly disastrous point. UCD is hardly immune from this epidemic of academic poverty – indeed as Ireland’s largest and second-highest-rated learning institution there is simply no excuse for the paltry size of grants available to masters, PhD and post-doc students. Across campus PhD candidates are struggling to complete their fourplus-year projects because they simply cannot find the money to get by – some have even had to withdraw completely from their programmes. With UCD already accused of illegally over-paying its staff, it is nightmarish to think that they would go out of their way to con extra pocket-money for their academic elite while leaving Sir, I read with interest in your last issue (dated January 18th) Leanne Waters’s article on depression and it struck a chord with me. When seeing the figure that 400,000 different people suffer from depression in this country alone struck me when in the middle of the page, I wasn’t surprised to read just under it how many of those wouldn’t seek help. While it was rightly pointed out that the treatment of mental health isn’t regarded
leads me to believe that they have not been bought. What are my classmates and I to do? Solely rely on books from the 90s, 80s or earlier? That hardly seems practical. Surely it is the aim of this university to produce graduates at the cutting edge of their field, complete with an understanding and appreciation of the latest knowledge available to them? Either it’s not, or either UCD is simply not providing adequate resources to those who study here. Perhaps this is just an issue pertaining to the area of arts and humanities. I hardly think it would be acceptable for the library not to purchase latest editions of medical and science books, for example – but then again, who really knows the extent of the book availability problem? Maybe the latest medical and science books are not in stock. In different times, it is conceivable a lack of books in the library wouldn’t be too much of an issue for students. They may have been in a position to purchase plenty of books themselves, but given the incredibly difficult financial circumstances in which the majority of us now find ourselves, I doubt that is a viable option anymore. In some extreme circumstances, students might not even be able to afford to photocopy relevant sections of
books. I am not suggesting that students should automatically have a right to borrow every single title on their reading lists from the library. There will always be a need for students to purchase their own copies of their most important required books. However, I do not feel it is acceptable to expect students to fork out for the majority of books on their reading lists, which I fear is what is happening at present. What the solution to this problem is, I do not know. Clearly more funding is required, but that is easier to state than it is to acquire. An inter-library loan facility exists at present, which could conceivably be developed and promoted to a greater extent, drawing on the resources of other libraries to compensate for shortcomings in our own library’s stock. Whatever the solution may be, I do know that it needs to be tackled urgently. A library is the heart of a university, and in the case of UCD, one that very much needs treatment.
the academic elite of the future to consider how they can survive another year in Belfield. Hiring-freezes aside, there will be a point when the economy returns to more profitable times and UCD can once again seek to employ new, fresher-faced lecturers and professors. But if the current situation is anything to go by, it seems very probable that they will have to look abroad to hire these positions as the number of PhD candidates in Ireland completing their doctorates dwindles. And speaking of looking abroad, UCD students considering postgraduate studies would be mad at this juncture not to consider taking their interests abroad. While universities in the US and Canada are considerably more difficult for Irish students to gain access to, the funding opportunities available can make as much sense
as applying to their own alma mater back home. The state of the university system in Ireland is simply shameful right now. And while the plight of undergraduates struggling with a doubling in their registration fee has been highlighted, and rightly so, the situation for post-graduates has been pushed too far off the radar. It is time for UCD to lead by example and find the necessary funding to allow a new generation of postgraduate students emerge in this country – students who are not crippled by debt but allowed the opportunity to complete their studies to the best of their abilities.
as highly as it should, especially when you consider that almost one out of ten suffer from depression when taking into account Ireland’s population. I can’t help but feel that another reason that most people don’t resort to help is not only because of admitting weakness or letting yourself down, but instead letting down those around you. The people who are too polite to ask for help for fear of being seen as a hindrance or liability are the ones who normally suffer quietly, be it for financial, social or academic reasons. It’s difficult to help those
if they leave no hints to their real condition. This is also an unfortunate side effect of our culture’s attitude towards mental health. I can only hope that by highlighting this problem through articles or other means regularly will convince those that are suffering to not hide it and confide in those closest to them or through services like Aware. Sincerely, James Connell, 3rd Medicine
Yours faithfully, Patrick Mahon, 2nd Commerce
Yours etc, Michael Lee, 3rd Arts
Letters should be sent by email to email@example.com or by mail to: The Editor, The University Observer, UCD Student Centre, Belfield, Dublin 4 All letters are subject to editorial approval. The Editor reserves the right to edit any letters.
Clarification and Corrections In Issue V of Volume XVII, dated 16th November 2010, in an article titled ‘UCD staff top survey for Ireland’s highest paid educators’, The University Observer stated that Professor Desmond Fitzgerald was Vice-President of the Conway Institute. The Institute’s current director is in fact Professor Walter Kolch. The University Observer is happy to clarify this. It is the policy of The University Observer to rectify any errors as soon as they arise. Queries and clarifications can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributors: Volume XVII, Issue 8 Acting Editor Paul Fennessy
Deputy News Editor Katie Hughes
Gilleece, Paul Gorman, Mathilde Guenegan, Michael Halton, Rachel Heavey, Imelda Hehir, Elaine Lavery, Alison Lee, Sophie Lioe, Colm MacEochagain, Mystic Mittens, Ryan Mackenzie, Fadora McSexypants, Joe Murphy, Kieran Murphy, Natasha Murtagh, Meabh Ní Cholieáin, Sinead O’Brien, Conor O’Nolan, Dermot O’Rourke, Talleyrand, Ekaterina Tikhoniouk, Daniel O’Toole, Shane Twomey, Claire Scott, Alison Sneyd, Ben Storey, Aoife Valentine.
Chief News Reporter Sarah Doran
Illustrator: Olwen Hogan
Features Editor Leanne Waters
Photographers: Janet Daly, Catherine Gundry-Beck, Aisling Twomey
Copy Editor Quinton O’Reilly Art and Design Director Jenn Compeau Senior Designer Shane McIntyre o-two Editors Emer Sugrue Killian Woods News Editor Amy Bracken
Chief Features Writer Natalie Voorheis Comment Editor Kate Rothwell Science, Health and Technology Editor Alan Coughlan Sports Editor Ryan Mackenzie Music Editor George Morahan Film Editor Jon Hozier-Byrne Fashion Editor Kieran Murphy Online Editor Killian Woods Contributors: Stephen Allen, The Badger, Stephen Balbirnie, Fachtna Basquille, Kevin Beirne, Aoife Brophy, Anna Burzlaff, Gordon O’Callaghan, Stephen Devine, Eoghan Dockrell, Bríd Doherty, Faye Docherty, Laurie Dool, Cormac Duffy, James Fagan, David Farrell, Fight Like Apes, Sean Finnan, Sam Geoghegan, Ciara
Special Thanks: Peter, Ian, Tim, Malcolm, Ade, Jonathan, Dave, Emma, Jed, Bob, Steve (and the robots) at Trafford Park Printing; Paul at Higgs; Eilis O’Brien and Dominic Martella; Colm, Sabrina and Rory at MCD Promotions; Bernie Divilly at PIAS; Mary Kate Murphy at EA; Giselle Jiang; Dave Carmody; Dominic, Grace, Charlie, Jason, Gary, Stephen, Mark, Sandra, Paul and all the Student Centre Staff; Very Special Thanks: Catriona Laverty, Rob Lowney, Danielle Moran, David Neary, Gavan Reilly, Emmet Ryan.
Tel: (01) 716 3119/3120 Email: email@example.com www.universityobserver.ie The University Observer is printed at The Guardian Print Centre, Longbridge Road, Manchester, M17 1SN.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 1 February 2011
SCIENCE & HEALTH
Old Wives Tales Debunked: A dog is a man’s best friend
Trials for life In light of the significantly increased number of volunteer participants in drug trials recently, Colm MacEochagain weighs up the pros and cons of risking one’s health for money
Participating in drugs trials may be tempting financially, but the risk of unknown side effects is always a factor.
Harry (left) and Sally (right) are two of the most famous examples of dogs’ willingness to eat their owners.
Are you a dog or a cat person? Alison Lee explains which creature is more likely to eat you
n 2009, in Papillion, Omaha, two pugs (Harry and Sally) ate parts of their dead owner’s body to stay alive. The grisly case received considerable media attention but the story ended happily, or as happily as it could under the circumstances when the two pooches found a loving home. So it is recognised that sometimes animals have no option but to eat their dead owners to survive. However there still exists a debate on this topic between cat people and dog people, with dog people asserting that dogs stand guard over their master’s bodies whereas cats are just itching for a chance to chow down, showing complete disregard for all the love and attention they received from their owners while they were alive. These arguments are still made despite real-life cases that prove otherwise. Is there any factual basis for this grisly old wives’ tale? North Carolina Chief Medical Examiner, John D. Butts, states “we see instances of pets feeding on their deceased owners (anthropophagy) from time to time, its rarity probably reflecting that the opportunity does not occur that often. In our experience, the animal is usually a dog.” Another expert in this slightly disturbing field is Steve Gilbert, professor of criminal investigations and forensic sci-
ence in New York-Canton State University. He says “there is no difference between dogs and cats when it comes to survival: both will eat what they must”. That being said, cats might be more likely to eat their dead owners because they are obligate carnivores, requiring almost twice as much protein as dogs per kilo of body weight. They can’t synthesize certain amino acids or vitamins, like taurine and Vitamin A, and can only obtain these from eating fresh meat. In contrast, dogs are technically omnivores, and can eat large amounts of carbohydrates, subsequently converting them to essential amino acids and vitamins. Thus a dog left alone in a house with a dead body would perhaps be more likely to eat leftover food lying around, whereas a cat would sooner naturally resort to the food that is nutritionally most beneficial – their dead owner. However, dogs are natural scavengers and have a higher tolerance than cats for bacteria found in decomposing flesh. Thus perhaps dogs might be happier than cats to eat their owners. Either way, it’s doubtful that this reflects the love a pet feels for their owner. After all, you’d probably eat your darling pet if you had no other option. So if under tragic circumstances your cat or dog did happen to feed on your body, you shouldn’t take it personally.
aybe you suffer with asthma. Migraines. Depression. Or maybe you just took a few paracetamol last Saturday morning as you watched re-runs of Gray’s Anatomy, trying desperately to keep your breakfast down and piece together the fragments of the night before. Whatever the reason, chances are you have taken some form of medication, be it pills, powders, or drops, over the last seven days. And you’re not alone: recently published OECD figures reveal that Ireland’s per capita spend on pharmaceuticals, both prescribed and over-the-counter, is the third highest in the world. This is surpassed only by the US and Canada, and has tripled in real terms over the last decade alone. The insidious normalisation of pharmaceutical (ab)use, so apparent in North America, appears now to have reached our shores. One consequence of the intensification in demand for new drugs is the growth of a peripheral industry involved with the sourcing and managing of the healthy participants of Phase one trials. These trials are initial investigations used to determine the safety of drugs, and to determine the prevalence and extent of potential side effects from their use. They are typically undertaken in a clinical setting, where healthy volunteers are given a small dose of a drug, one which already underwent successful testing both in lab animals and in in-vitro cell culture studies. Relative to its population, Ireland’s involvement in clinical trials is extensive with an average of 390 trials underway at any one time. Dr. Morris Dowling, Director of Clinical Studies at the Shandon Clinic, a Cork-based private institution involved with Phase one trials, recently disclosed to the Cork Examiner that speculative applications by volunteers to participate in these trials had risen dramatically during the past two years of economic stagnation. He stated that it had become “significantly easier to fill the quota of volunteers for trials” since the recession began. It is also understood that a substantial majority of applicants to clinical trials are students. Gary Redmond of the USI described the situation as “extremely worrying” and expressed concern that “students are turning to clinical trials to fund their education because of a short-sighted move by our government in slashing maintenance grants while increasing registration fees”. Strictly speaking, remuneration of test subjects is limited to reimbursing whatever expenses the volunteer has incurred in order to take part, as well as a minimal supplementary payment, which is given in lieu of the participant’s time. In reality, however,
most volunteers can expect to earn between €150-and-€200-a-day taking part in these trials. These payments are highly controversial as they are part of a scheme that has come under intense scrutiny in medical ethics circles in recent years by those who view such backdoor payments as an inappropriate incentive to volunteers participating in something that is inherently risky. They may have a point. Last summer, a Cork-based trial ended in controversy following the hospitalisation of three of its participants. Of twelve men participating in the trial, eleven suffered an adverse reaction to Rimcazole, a drug being tested for use in cancer patients. Speaking to The Irish Times, Philip Mulvihill, the only participant not to suffer a reaction to the drug, described how the other men began to suffer seizures shortly after receiving it. “I was in the bedroom and I heard a load of noise – one of the volunteers was after collapsing with a seizure while he was having his breakfast,” Mr Mulvihill said. “About five minutes after that the guy in the bed opposite me started having a seizure. I actually had to hold his legs down – it was pretty frightening.” This case followed the well-publicised 2006 trials in London of TGF1412, a drug developed by German pharmaceutical giant TeGenero to help boost the immune systems
of immunocompromised patients. Within minutes of undergoing infusion of the drug, however, the participants began to complain of a burning sensation, accompanied by severe pain and nausea. Within hours, all of the volunteers had been transferred to intensive care suffering the catastrophic symptoms of a ‘cytokine storm’ – the inappropriate activation of white ‘immune’ blood cells. Dr. Trevor Smart, head of Pharmacology at University College London, remarked that the men would likely “suffer long-term disruption to their immune systems,” and may face “a lifetime contracting cancers and all the various auto-immune diseases from lupus to MS, from rheumatoid arthritis to ME”. One of the participants has since developed “definite early signs of lymphoid malignancy,” according to Professor of Immunology at Nottingham University Hospital, Dr. Richard Powell. Although the majority of clinical trials proceed successfully and without incident, cases such as these highlight a need for more rigorous legislation in the area of clinical Phase one testing, particularly in regard to the timing between doses given to successive patients. It is also a worrying trend that many young people now appear so desperate for work, they would go as far as risking their health just to stay afloat.
The stages of drug trials The process of creating drugs in a laboratory to being able to purchase them over the counter is a long one. Sometimes it can take a period of over ten years to complete all the testing stages. Before a drug is tested in humans, it would have been through laboratory and animal testing. It is mainly rodents who these drugs are tested upon generally to check for any toxicity before they are tested in humans. After being cleared for human testing by the relevant ethical bodies, the drug undergoes three main stages of testing. Phase one is a safety test where a small number of people, sometimes healthy, and sometimes with a medical condition, are given a tiny dose of the drug under careful supervision, not to test if the drug works, but in order to check for any possible side effects. Phase two is where the drug is administered to people who have
the relevant condition to see if it helps them. The final stage, Phase three, is a large-scale study usually involving tens of thousands of people. Participants are often randomly allocated to either get the drug or a dummy version. In most cases, neither the scientists nor the patients know who has got the real drug so that the results cannot be skewed by expectations. Before any trials commence, participants are told what risks are involved and what the known side effects might be. They would also be told what compensation would be in place if something unexpected went wrong. Such research can require people to spend two or three weeks in the research unit, so many of those taking part are students. However women of reproductive age would not be involved if there was any chance they were pregnant, in case there were effects on a foetus.
1 February 2011 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
SCIENCE & HEALTH
The history of medicine
How did we come from drilling holes in our skulls to complex procedures such as organ transplants and keyhole surgery? Ekaterina Tikhoniouk explains
dvancements in nutrition and technology as well as a rise in living standards have greatly increased our overall life expectancy. During the Middle Ages, an average adult had a life expectancy of only about 30 years, while in ancient Rome the average person was only expected to make it to 20. In 1901 an average male born in the UK was expected to live to 45, while now, a century later, he is expected to live to 77. But the main factor that is allowing people to live longer and better lives are the dramatic advancements in medicine that happened the world over and continue improving to this day. Human beings have been practising medicine for a very long time. Medicine is termed as the science of diagnosing, treating or preventing disease and other damage to the body and mind. It has been around for millennia, as ancient and even prehistoric civilisations had their own beliefs about what caused death and illness. Throughout history, illness has been attributed to witchcraft, demons, adverse astral influences or the will of the gods. It is believed that the earliest forms of medicine were practised as early as the Stone Age, but these were often misguided attempts to alleviate symptoms of illnesses, often through superstitious practises. A lot of this early medicine consisted of wild guesses at what caused the various diseases that afflicted the population. Ancient medicine was a crude system of trial and error, predominantly based on appeasing the gods or spirits through ritual or sacrifice, or expelling the evil spirit troubling the sick person. Throughout the long process of discovering which plants were edible, the Stone Age man did occasionally stumble upon plants with natural properties that alleviated certain symptoms or reduced pain when ingested. Herbal medicine was the earliest medical practise with a scientific basis. Some of their discoveries have been disproven, while others play an integral part in our modern medicinal practises. Curare, made from poisonous bark by South American tribes in the Amazonian jungle, was smeared on the tips of their arrows to paralyse their prey. Nowadays a modern variant of curare is used as an important muscle relaxant during surgery. It is hard to tell how long mankind has known about the medicinal properties of certain herbs, but the oldest medical procedure known to man is the trepanation of skulls, which, according to archaeological evidence, dates back to roughly 2,000BC. Trepanation is an age-old medical intervention in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull. Stone Age societies believed that this relieved migraines by releasing the evil spirits trapped within the sufferer’s head, as well as curing epilepsy and mental disorders. It is only by fluke that this sometimes worked by relieving inter-cranial pressure. Well-preserved mummies survive in Peru with this hole in their skull, many of which show signs of healing in the bone around the wound, suggesting that as many as half of these so-called patients survived the crude and most likely gruesome operation. Gradually, a growing base of medical knowledge began to build up, mainly through chance observation. The ancient Egyptians developed the beginnings of a primitive medical tradition, with their earliest known surgery carried out almost 5,000 years ago. The earliest physician is also accredited to ancient Egypt. In countries such as Greece, India and China, early attempts began at the same time to treat medicine as a science instead of a superstitious ritual. The world’s first plastic surgeon is accredited to India. Susruta, who lived during the
sixth century BC, was the founder of Indian medicine and creator of rhinoplasty, a plastic surgery technique that alters the shape of the patient’s nose. This was a very important operation in ancient India as cutting off the nose was a common punishment for adultery during the time, and is the second most common plastic surgery procedure nowadays. The roots of modern medicine lie in ancient Greece, with the famous Greek doctor Hippocrates who is often termed the father of modern medicine. As well as being the first documented chest surgeon, Hippocrates was the first to document several diseases and medical conditions and many of his findings are still valid to this day. Most famously he is said to have created the Hippocratic Oath for physicians, which is still in use today. This golden age of medicine was torn apart by the fall of the Roman Empire and during the Dark Ages, a shadow of superstition settled back over Europe. While at the same time the new medicine continued to flourish in the east during the Middle Ages. During the Middle Ages, western medicine was based on the theory of the four humours of the body, that the human body contains four fluids or ‘humours’- blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. Most doctors believed that illnesses were caused by an imbalance of these humours in the body, which had to be restored in order to cure the patient. Medieval doctors were great advocates of bloodletting, believing that regular bleeding would keep the body healthy. Ideas about the origins and cures of diseases were often based on the widespread beliefs of the time, and fear and superstition played a large part in medieval medicine. In a largely uneducated society rife with ignorance and superstition, many thought that illnesses were a punishment from God and caused directly by the sins of the person. Instead of consulting a doctor, many turned to prayer or gruelling pilgrimages in the hope of being cured of their illnesses or conditions. Medieval medicine was set back even further by the Black Death that swept through Europe in the middle of the 14th century, killing approximately 25 million people in just under five years. This pandemic was widely blamed on the sins of the people of Europe. But later centuries saw a turnabout in medical practises. During the 18th century medicine saw very slow progress, but the start of the 19th century saw the development of the world’s first vaccine, the first successful human blood transfusion and the first uses of general anaesthetics and in 1884, cocaine (which was discovered in the 1960s) was used as a general anaesthetic before being replaced with Novocaine. Louis Pasteur identified germs as the cause of disease in the 1850s, while William Roentgen discovered x-rays in 1895. Another golden age of medicine had begun. Before the 1930s there weren’t many effective treatments in existence: we had insulin, x-rays, anaesthesia, vaccines against a number of illnesses, aspirin and the electrocardiograph. Then suddenly, in the space of 40 years or so, science poured out a constant stream of miracles. Many things that we associate with modern medicine were discovered in that time: treatments like antibiotics in the 1940s, dialysis in 1943, kidney transplants in 1963 and heart transplants in 1967, intensive care, heart surgery, almost every drug you’ve ever heard of, and more. These miracle treatments form the cornerstones of our modern medical practises. But alongside these great medical advances, some of the more ancient and bizarre treatments of the past have survived. Mercury was used since ancient times to treat just about anything and has even been found in Egyptian tombs dating as far back as 1,500BC. It was believed to heal wounds,
Heroin was once deemed an adequate form of medicine and was mixed into children’s cough syrup.
cure illnesses and prolong life. In second century China, the study of mercury was centred on a search for an elixir of life. It was also used to treat syphilis starting from the 16th century. The 19th century saw the production of a cough syrup containing heroin, as well as a demand for children’s soothing syrups, each ounce of which could contain up to 65mg of pure heroin, as well as other narcotics such as cannabis and powdered opium. One of the more gruesome and unethical practises was lobotomy, a surgical procedure in which an ice pick is inserted through the eye socket and into the brain, severing cer-
tain neurological connections particularly in the frontal lobe. Thought to treat depression, violent behaviour and mental illnesses, this procedure was brought into many psychiatric hospitals during the 1950s. It became so popular that its inventor, Antonio Egaz Moniz, was given a Nobel Prize in 1949. By the 1960s, parents were getting them for their moody teenagers, and over 18,000 people were lobotomised before this practise was deemed barbaric. Medicine is on the brink of several important advancements. Scientists are still fighting to find a cure for cancer, stem cell research is giving us more and more possibil-
ities and some predict that in the not-so-distant future, we will be able to grow artificial organs. Scientists talk excitedly about one day alleviating ageing and death altogether. The medical beliefs of ancient civilizations, of the Middle Ages and even of the past century or two seem alien and bizarre to us. It is impossible to comprehend how people thought drilling a hole in your skull could relieve headaches. But medicine and its related technology is advancing at such an increasingly fast rate so that in the years to come, future generations may look back on our medical practises and wonder how we managed at all.
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1 February 2011 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Debating destiny In the build up to this weekend’s Six Nations opening fixtures, Gordon O’ Callaghan, Sam Geoghegan and Kevin Beirne sat down to discuss the upcoming event
The Irish rugby team will be hoping to repeat their Triple Crown-winning success of 2009.
This year’s Six Nations tournament has been tipped by many to be the most open in years. England, Wales and Ireland are going into their first fixtures with injury problems in the back row, front row and back three respectively. Scotland and Italy are improving and are no longer viewed as the whipping boys. The French seem to be in a state of continuous change under coach Marc Livermont. But with this being a World Cup year, all of the national coaches will be keeping one eye on September, and hoping to build on a potential grand slam with World Cup success. Gordon: Should we sacrifice not winning a grand slam to breed some of the squad players for the World Cup? Sam: I don’t think we are going to win a grand slam if we wanted to. I don’t think we are talented enough. Kevin: I think that we have a chance of winning a slam, but I don’t think that we will. Gordon: Are France the favourites then? Kevin: Yeah. Sam: It depends on what French team shows up. Gordon: On paper are they the favourites? Sam: Yeah, but I don’t think that you can discount England either. Kevin: England? I see them coming third or fourth. Gordon: I think that we could win a slam if we get some of our injured players back after the Italian game. Kevin: Yeah that’s my worry that there are so many people out. Gordon: With all the injuries, is there a possibility they could lose against Italy? Sam: Yeah, of course there is, and especially in Rome. Kevin: We haven’t lost to them yet, but we have come close a few times. Gordon: If we are not going to win a slam, where are we going to lose it? Kevin: At home to France. Gordon: Badly?
Kevin: I can see it being within a try, being painstakingly close again and failing. Gordon: Are we a worse team or better team than when we won the slam two years ago? Kevin: I think we have better players in some positions, but I am not sure if we have a better team. Sam: I would say we have a worse starting 15, but we are a better squad. Gordon: Who is going to be the stand out player for Ireland? Sam: Johnny Sexton. Kevin: Jamie Heaslip, and potentially Sean O’Brien to make a mark. Sam: It’s going to be a Leinster player. I think that Cian Healy could make huge strides. Gordon: Is there a dark horse this year? Kevin: Wales are a weird team, you never know what you are going to get. Gordon: Can Scotland or Wales win the six nations? Kevin: I don’t think Scotland can, Wales might be able to, just because they have been there and done it before. Gordon: Who is going to be the player of the tournament, outside of Ireland? Kevin: Whoever plays scrum half for France? Sam: Johnny Wilkinson. Gordon: I’m saying Kelly. Under Eddie O’Sullivan, it seemed as though it was harder to lose your place in the Ireland team than it was for a Fianna Fáil TD to lose their seat. Oh how times have changed. Declan Kidney has shown he is not afraid to blood young talent, something he must continue to do in this Six Nations with the World Cup waiting at the end of the year. His team selection for the next five tests will tell us a lot about his vision for Ireland in the autumn, but don’t expect him to stray too much from the old-guard. Gordon: So looking towards the first game, we’ve got Heaslip out and Flannery too.
Sam: We’re missing Hayes as well. Gordon: Would Hayes have started anyway? For now, is it Mike Ross or Tom Court in the front row? Kevin: I’d have Ross. Court is a handy player to have on the bench because he can play either side, but he’s not a starter. Sam: And Court just turned 30 the other day. On the other side, Healy is developing but his scrummaging needs to improve. Sam: Is Best going to be fit? Kevin: Cronin might have to come in, and I wouldn’t have a problem with that. Gordon: Even with the question marks over his throwing? Kevin: Well he just offers so much in every other aspect of his game - ball-carrying, hitting rucks and he’s so fast! Gordon: How about Leo Cullen or Donnacha O’Callaghan? Kevin: On form it has to be Cullen. I’d like to see Toner in there, even just against Italy and Scotland. Gordon: Well Toner’s been at Leinster since 2005, is he really the future for Ireland, or do we just lack depth at that position? Kevin: Well recently I’ve seen a lot more in him. I just think O’Callaghan is dipping. Sam: I’d keep Donnacha in there, just because he’s tried and tested. Gordon: Half-backs? Sam: Reddan has played with Sexton for longer than any of them. I also think Reddan’s more experienced and can speed up the tempo. Kevin: Yeah, with Boss on the bench. Gordon: Will we see Sexton for the whole tournament? Sam: Well he’s such a confidence player. Kevin: At centre, it’s D’Arcy and O’Driscoll. Gordon: Does that partnership still have the quality at the highest level? Is there an argument for including McFadden? Kevin: I can’t see that happening. One of
them would have to be missing an arm and a leg to be taken out. Gordon: Well, most of our injuries are in the back three. Sam: Tommy Bowe, Trimble, Horgan, Murphy and Kearney are out, so no full back. Gordon: But we’ve still got Earls as a good try-scorer on the left wing. Kevin: I don’t think much of Earls. I feel he’s taken a few steps backwards in the past season or two. Gordon: I’d agree that he gets exposed in the centre because of his size, but on the left wing he’s got pace. With the World Cup kicking off in New Zealand next September, this year’s Six Nations tournament is once again a major factor in Ireland’s ambitions and a rich insight into the team’s readiness for the challenge. The question, therefore, is whether Ireland should use the Six Nations as preparation for the biggest tournament in world rugby, or should Declan Kidney’s men look to the short term and aim for Grand Slam glory. The longterm plans and preparations of countries such as France and Australia, which have been in place since 2007, suggest that both may not go hand-in-hand. Gordon: Should we potentially sacrifice a Grand Slam to breed some of the squad players in for the World Cup? Sam: This time next year, Kidney has to take away most of that squad as the World Cup will be over and we’ll hopefully be building for 2015. Kevin: We’ve picked a bad time for it, every team seems to build for a World Cup but our progression is two years off. Gordon: Are these guys coming up, excluding O’Brien, like Ryan, O’Malley, McFadden, Johnnie Murphy, Sean Cronin, as good as we think they are or are they being carried a little by the players around them? Will McFadden be as good as D’Arcy was at his peak? Will Fitzgerald be as good as
Hickie was when he was in his prime? Kevin: I think it’s very hard to compare because there are so many intangibles that go into it. D’Arcy was a flop at wing until they moved him to centre and suddenly he’s the golden boy. Heaslip came into an established Irish team and now he’s considered world class. Gordon: O’Driscoll came in so soon after professionalism, so too did Stringer and O’Gara. They knew what it was like to struggle in an underperforming Irish team. Do the younger guys need to have that experience to give them that hunger and drive? Kevin: Maybe, but you could say winning is a mentality. Gordon: Would you swap a semi-final for a Grand Slam? Sam: I’d take a Grand Slam because what good is a semi-final? What good is losing to one of the powerhouses in the semis? It would be great for the team to have another Grand Slam and/or trophy. It’s the last chance for the Golden Generation to win a World Cup. They’ve got the Heineken Cups and the Grand Slam; why not try to complete the set? Gordon: Are we in a better position to win the World Cup if we win the Six Nations? Kevin: There’ll be a lot more pressure and expectations. Gordon: We’ve never dealt with that before. Kevin: We’d be targeted a lot more. Gordon: Is it better to come in under the radar into the World Cup rather than winning a Grand Slam? Sam: I’d rather us not win the Grand Slam but only if that made us more prepared and equipped to cope with the pressure of a World Cup. Kevin: I’d love to win the Grand Slam and use that as a platform for the World Cup, but it’ll be difficult.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 1 February 2011
UCD Marian seal historic National Cup final victory Sunday evening saw UCD Marian complete one of the biggest upsets ever seen in Irish basketball by beating 11890 Killester in the National Cup final. Ryan Mackenzie reports UCD MARIAN 60 KILLESTER 57
CD Marian entered the National Cup final as underdogs. In fact, their opponents, 11890 Killester, were Sports Editor hot favourites to ease to victory against a side that had exceeded all expectation in making it to the final. The North Dubliners completed a clean sweep of national titles last season and currently lead the North Conference comfortably with a game in hand and boast far greater experience of the big occasion (this being their fourth successive final) than the Students who were making their debut. Little was expected from UCD Marian, but a lot was delivered. The game began brightly for the Students. A three-pointer from American import James Crowder gave his side a lead they maintained for the first quarter. The Students excelled on offence, while executed an affective zone defence, which kept Killester at bay. Frustrated, the league champions and National Cup holders went into a full court press in an attempt to startle and smother their opponents. However, UCD held on for a two-point lead at the break as the scoreline stood at 17-15. The second quarter was not as positive from UCD. Their lead of two fell to a deficit of seven points as Killester hit their stride. Indeed, the favorites began to demonstrate why they were so heavily preferred before the game. They upped the tempo on offence as the Students struggled to keep up with their opponent’s pace. The ball was swung around the arch with ease, while clever and incisive passes carved through Marian’s once solid zone defence. On the other side of the ball Killester battened down the hatches and gave
the Students very little to work with on offence – which was evident in Crowder’s modest six-point tally at the break. A late surge by UCD left the half-time score at 28-35. The second half began with much of the same from both sides. Killester continued to dominate the UCD defence and the Students struggled on offence. In fact, aside from two back-to-back three-pointers from Crowder late in the third quarter, the Students produced very little in the way of points. Marian appeared stagnated by the impressive prowess of the Killester attack and were often met by random bouts of full-court press from the holders. Killester looked intent on killing off the UCD threat and effectively winning the game in the third quarter. They entered the final period of the game leading by ten points at 42-52, but the Students were buoyed by their success in the closing minutes of the quarter. The fourth quarter was something special to behold from the Students. UCD, encouraged by the words of their coach Fran Ryan, shut out the champions and chipped away at their lead. It took Killester six-and-a-half minutes to get on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, by which time the Students had miraculously pulled level. The champions were nervous and mistakes began to creep into their game. Crowder combined with Conor Meany and Daniel James to lead the team through a period of intense pressure and unbearable tension. Killester, now two points adrift were handed possession with 32 seconds remaining. However, despite a timeout filled with inspiring words and tactical guidance from their coach, the defending champions were unable to score. The game finished rather fittingly with Conor Meany, the teams ever-present point guard and leader this season, slotting away a free throw and ushering in the club’s first-ever National Cup, making UCD Marian the
Point guard Conor Meany (centre) has delivered a number of stellar performances for UCD this season.
eleventh club to win the competition. The final score was 60-57 and arguably marks the greatest upset the cup’s history. With this victory, UCD Marian became the unlikeliest of champions. The game was meant to be a procession of Killester dominance, as the Students themselves claimed
to be content pre-game with merely keeping the scores close. It must also be understood that UCD were not lucky to beat Killester, nor were the elite club in Irish basketball caught on an uncharacteristic off day, the Students were just meticulous in their execution of
Fran Ryan’s gameplan and brave enough to outplay a supposedly superior side. They brought the champions to their knees and laid claim to not only silverware, but also the respect of the rest of the league. Next stop is the league title and who would bet against them now?
The Badger: Empire Strikes Back In the Badger’s second Star Wars-themed column, the Rupert Murdoch empire strikes back and sacks Andy Gray and Richard Keys
A short time ago, in a country not so far away...It is a good time for female activists everywhere. The powerful “dark forces” at work in the Rupert Murdoch empire have sacked Andy Gray and his life partner Richard Keys has gracefully followed him out the door. It is a true shame for football that this dynamic duo have had their relationship with Ford Super Sunday football fans cut short just as the Premier League title race became a one-horse race. Manchester United have only started to build a points gap between themselves and the
other top-20 sides in the league, and football fans are now expected to cope without analysis from Keys and Gray on this pulsating title race. These two noble steeds have guided us through football since the sport was invented by Sky in 1992. Imagine, without Andy Gray we wouldn’t have the classic lines such as: “Take a bow son”, “oh you beauty”, “if you stand off this fella, he’ll kill you” and “there are a lot of tired legs wearing Tottenham shirts”. Keys’ parting comments should resonate with all us football fans to get a grip. “The World has gone mad,” according to the former Sky Sports womaniser, and that it has. It is a mad world where these two pioneers of football are forced out of the sport, and the Badger is ashamed to be associated with football at this time. That’s not to say he hasn’t faxed his CV to BSkyB.
It appears to be the case that no one can put a foot wrong in this ball game anymore without being maligned, reprimanded or sacked. What has caught the Badger’s eye lately has been the flurry
of ridiculous fines that have been dished out by authoritative bodies looking to oppress the man. Recently it seems to be those that embody what the Badger loves about the game that have gotten the shitty end of the stick. Blackpool have been fined £25,000 for fielding a team of eleven Premier League-registered footballers against Aston Villa in November, while Lionel Messi received a yellow card and was ordered to pay €3,000 for saying happy birthday to his mother after he scored for Barcelona against Racing Santander.
By the time you’ve scanning the Badger’s column, football will be just be over the hype of the frenzy that is the Winter transfer window. All of the procrastination from football clubs over the past month had accumulated into hysteria as everyone tried to force through that deadline day deal. This madness that surrounds football is a pet favourite of the Badger. He loves to gossip and speculate, more so about his friends or enemies, but the careers of footballers will do.
As is the status quo, Sky Sports jumped on this bandwagon and milked it dry (yes, milked a bandwagon dry). They pulled out all the stops this year to make sure they have every aspect of it covered. No stone was left unturned and no Harry Redknapp phone call untapped. Sky Sports’ biggest feat this year was actually finding the winter transfer window in its physical form. Bryan Swanson was entrusted to manage the transfer
window for the last month and has done an outstanding job. Watching him touch the transfer window and drag Luis Suarez’s mug shot across the screen with flashing speculation bars was the insight we all needed into the turmoil that goes on behind the glass. After seeing the madness associated with the transfer window personified, the Badger has suddenly realised what he wants for Christmas 2011.
Andy Gray and Richard Keys Gluais: Banter together – Explaining the offside rule to a woman Oh you beauty – I don’t respect you as a work colleague because you’re female Dark Forces – Fem-Net Ireland Take a bow son – You’d give Karen Brady a go Can you tuck this down here for me? – Let’s have office sex
1 February 2011 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
Football fever comes to fruition Super Bowl XLV, which takes place this Sunday, could come down to a battle of the quarterbacks, writes Sam Geoghegan
he National Football League, with all of its glitz and glamour, could not have hoped for a better Superbowl. The Superbowl, now in its 45th year, will be played in the impressive new Cowboys Stadium of Arlington, Texas, this Sunday between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. These two teams are the most storied franchises in the NFL and arguably in US sports. Pittsburgh have won a record six Super Bowls, while the men from Wisconsin have three ti-
tles to their name, with the Superbowl trophy named after their most successful coach – Vince Lombardi. This is a game of the ultimate champions. Pittsburgh’s quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, is a man who has been there and done that. “Big Ben” was drafted in 2004 and since then he has established himself into one of the top quarterbacks in the league as he has led the Steelers to two Superbowl titles in the last five years. However, his off-field activities are not befitting of a franchise quarterback and a $102 million contract. Following his second season where Pittsburgh became World champions for the first time since their “Steel Curtain” team of the 1970s, Roethlisberger was involved in a serious
motorcycle accident which threatened his career, just when he was trying to emerge as a toptier NFL quarterback. The accident hampered Pittsburgh’s 2006 season as they failed to make the playoffs. Pittsburgh won their second title in four years in 2008 under new coach Mike Tomlin and Roethlisberger’s play was noticeably better than in previous seasons. Following this success, Big Ben was accused of rape in the summer of 2009. The charges were eventually dropped but these allegations were still very much fresh in the minds of many when Roethlisberger was accused a second time in March 2010. This time the story was more believable and people began to wonder how an NFL superstar could be so stupid. Roethlisberger was
MAGNERS LEAGUE STUDENT NIGHT
LEINSTER v AIRONI
not charged on either count and that has to be clear, but there are many unanswered questions especially about the second allegation. It was demonstrated that many had doubts when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Roethlisberger for the first six games of this season. In a land where a person is “innocent until proven guilty”, this shocked many as Roethlisberger hasn’t been legally charged with anything. The suspension was later reduced to four games. In Roethlisberger’s absence, Pittsburgh were 3-1. Upon his return, Pittsburgh finished 12-4 and secured the number two seed in the playoffs. They’ve defeated the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets en route to Dallas and a battle with the ‘cheeseheads’. Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay quarterback, is a completely different style of triggerman to Roethlisberger, both on and off the field. While Roethlisberger tends to make plays with his feet by running out of the pocket, Rodgers is your typical pocket quarterback who can make all the throws – though also demonstrating pace when necessary. Rodgers entered the NFL in 2005 after a very impressive college career at California. He was a potential top five pick in the draft but he slid all the way down to 24th and into the hands of Green Bay. The 2005 draft will forever be remembered, as Rodgers had to wait alone in the green room for hours until he finally heard his name called. His first three years as a pro didn’t make up for that embarrassment either. Green Bay already had an all-star quarterback in Brett Favre. After the confusion about Favre’s retirement persisted in 2008, a bitter divorce ensued culminating in Favre being traded to the Jets and Rodgers became the starter. Rodgers finally had his chance at Lambeau Field to make the Packers his team. Although it is almost impossible to forget Favre who was at the helm since 1992, Rodgers handled the pressure considerably well. He has led Green Bay to the Superbowl as the first NFC number six seed after impressive wins on the road against the Eagles, Falcons and Bears. Favre, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have dominated American football over the last decade. It’s now Rodger’s time to stake his claim as the NFL’s best quarterback, and he has the potential to hold that title for years to come. However, Rodgers and Green Bay must win this Sunday in Dallas if he ever wants to be mentioned as the Packers’ third great quarterback behind Favre and Bart Starr and not just as number four’s replacement. When former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Steve Young, won the Superbowl in 1994, he said the monkey was off his back as he had replaced possibly the greatest quarterback of all time in Joe Montanna. Rodgers needs to get the monkey off his back too and Superbowl XLV is the perfect opportunity for him to do just that.
SPORTS DIGEST CRICKET The University’s cricket team exceeded expectations at the Indoor Intervarsity Championship in NUI Galway in midJanuary. The club made it to the semi-final stage, where former champions, the University of Ulster, beat them. However, the team were hampered by the absence of various important players due to rescheduled exams and injuries. Among the injured was club captain Brendan Cummings, who had to be content with a sideline view due to a broken wrist. Despite the disappointment of this loss, the side is very young and will no doubt improve as the season progresses. LADIES HOCKEY UCD’s ladies hockey team have progressed to the quarter-finals of the Irish Senior Cup after a 2-1 victory over the Belfast Harlequins in the second round. Two goals from Rachel Burke gave the side a comeback victory and a February 19th encounter with Cork Harlequins in Belfield. GAELIC FOOTBALL Louth delivered a crushing defeat to UCD in the semi-final of the O’Byrne Cup two weeks ago. The Students travelled to Louth with their dreams of a cup final appearance still very much alive. They were set back by a strong start by the home side, which saw Louth take a nine-point lead. However, UCD were not to be outdone that early and they clawed their way back to within a point with eight unanswered scores. With only five minutes remaining in the contest, the Students drew level. However, Louth kept their composure to win the match by a single point, with a final scoreline of 2-11 to 0-16. - Ryan Mackenzie
Ben Roethlisberger is one of the best quarterbacks in The National Football League based on current form.
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1 February 2011 THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER
VOLUME xViI ISSUE 8
1st February 2011
WE DEBATE IRELAND’S CHANCES IN THE UPCOMING SIX NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP
THE BADGER GIVES HIS TAKE ON THE RECENT FURORE SURROUNDING ANDY GRAY
RYAN MACKENZIE REPORTS ON UCD MARIAN’S ALLIMPORTANT GAME AGAINST KILLESTER
UCD’s promotion procession continues The University’s rugby team faced off against their Dublin rivals Terenure in a second division encounter in the Belfield Bowl last Saturday. Stephen Devine reports UCD 27 Terenure 13
CD went in to Saturday’s game at the Belfield Bowl lying second in Division 2 of the Ulster Bank League. The Students came into the game on the back of a disappointing loss to Bruff the previous week in the Bateman All-Ireland Cup semi-final. With their sole focus now being promotion, UCD were seeking to ensure a victory over their Dublin rivals, Terenure, to cement their prominent position in Division 2. It was Terenure that got the best of the early exchanges and indeed the visitors spent most of the first 15 minutes camped in the UCD half. It was the visitors scrum half Kevin O’Neill who was the catalyst for the quick ball they enjoyed. A great break from Terenure hooker Gavin Tully followed by some slick hands gave Brian Mooney a clear run to the line. However, a great last ditch challenge resulted in Mooney being held up, the Students, against the head, won the ensuing scrum and allowed them to alleviate the pressure momentarily. Terenure’s pressure finally paid off however, after some UCD indiscipline at ruck time gave Terenure’s winger Harry Moore the chance to open the scoring, which he duly did converting a penalty from in front of the posts to give the visitors a 3-0 lead. Collidge then sustained some more Teren-
ure pressure before a fantastic break and offload by flanker Danny Kenny allowed fullback Michael Twomey to stroll over for his first try of the game which Thornton converted to give UCD a somewhat undeserved 7-3 lead. Shortly after, referee Richard Kerr attempted to stamp his authority on proceedings by showing Terenure tight-head prop Garry Haminton the first yellow card of the game after warning both teams about indiscipline at ruck time. UCD then extended their lead when out half Thornton landed a penalty from just inside the visitors half. However, the home side failed to make the most of their numerical advantage and after some great play by Terenure’s pack, a huge skip pass from out half Conor Gildea allowed second row Kevin O’Dwyer to cross the line. Moore added the extras to leave the scores all square at the break. A first half, which was characterised by poor handling and infringements at the ruck, ended with another Terenure forward been shown a yellow card for continued penalties at the breakdown. The second half started just as the first had ended with another sin binning, this time it was Collidge’s second row Brian Cawley who was shown yellow, as punishment for yet more perceived infringements at ruck time. Immediately after, some over eagerness by Terenure’s Kevin O’Neill lead to a
penalty for offside. Thornton was once again on target with a long-range effort to reinstate Collidge’s slender three-point advantage. The next 25 minutes were almost solely played in the Student’s half. However, despite the best efforts of Terenure, a combination of poor handling and great UCD defence meant that all they had to show for their territorial dominance was three points from the boot of Moore. Thornton was handed an opportunity to restore Collidge’s lead, however the out half saw his effort sail wide of the posts and the scores remained level approaching the final 15 minutes of the game. Two pieces of individual magic in the final ten minutes sealed the win for the Students. First fullback Michael Twomey beat two would-be Terenure defenders and then sprinted clear to go over for his second try of the game. Shortly after winger John Conroy cleverly sidestepped his way through the opposition 22 to stroll over for his teams third try of the afternoon. Thornton converted both efforts to leave the score at 27-13. The Students went in search of the fourth try bonus point, but time was not on their side and they had to settle for a four-point win. The students will be happy to have got out of the game with a win and if the truth
be told, the final score flattered the home side. If Terenure had been more clinical in their execution, in particular their handling, the result could have been very different. UCD will take solace, however, from
their defensive performance and move on to next week’s highly anticipated clash with Bective Rangers. Bective find themselves in third place behind the Students, a good performance will be required if UCD are to continue their so far undefeated season.
UCD have been in fine form this season and look set for promotion.
More misery for Murray An Australian Open title once again eluded Andy Murray on Sunday and the Scot must improve his mental strength if he is to ever attain a Grand Slam, writes Michael Halton
ovak Djokovic claimed his second Grand Slam title when he crushed an out of sorts Andy Murray in straight sets. Fresh from leading Serbia to its first ever Davis Cup title in December, Djokovic played outstanding tennis, dropping just one set on his way to a second Australian Open title. Murray battled hard, but uncharacteristically sloppy errors, as he tried to fight his way back into the match, handed Djokovic crucial points. The pressure of trying to emulate Fred Perry, the last British man to win a Grand Slam, proved to be too much for Murray as he could not find a way past Djokovic who returned everything thrown at
him. Djokovic entered the final as slight favourite after his semi-final crushing of World No 2 Roger Federer in straight sets. In the first Grand slam final without either Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer since 2008, Djokovic began brightest winning the first six points of the match. Murray managed to hold his serve in that game but Djokovic had set out his stall and he never looked back from that terrific opening. Djokovic’s ability to return everything that Murray threw at him destroyed Murray’s morale and the unforced errors that Murray committed, 47 in all, as well as his low percentage of first serves in (just 51 per
cent) completely undermined the challenge of the Dunblane man. Djokovic broke Murrays’ serve in the tenth game of the first set to win 6-4. Murray seemed completely demoralised by the setback and committed a series of sloppy errors to hand complete control of the match to Djokovic, who wasn’t going to refuse the invitation. Djokovic raced into a five-game-to-love lead as Murray’s concentration slipped. The Scot stirred from his slumber and staged a mini-revival, managing to break Djokovic’s serve for the first time, but he could not sustain his momentum and Djokovic claimed the second set 6-2.
Murray opened the third set brightly by breaking Djokovic’s serve again, but he threw his good work away by losing the second game to love. Djokovic moved 3-1 up with Murray saving six break points to no avail. Murray managed to bring it back to 3-3, but the relentless Serb continued to press and he took the next three games to claim the second Grand Slam title of his career. Djokovic’s victory here and his performances in the US Open last year signal that he may finally be ready to claim his place alongside multiple Grand Slam winners Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Murray will look back on this match as
an opportunity wasted, as in the absence of Nadal and Federer, he would have fancied his chances of becoming the first Scot to claim a Grand Slam title. However, his dismal record in Grand Slam finals, where he has yet to win a set, is an unfortunate indictment of his game. The manner of this defeat will force him to consider if a more aggressive style would be more suited to the big occasions. Murray will be back but if he wants to be a Grand Slam champion he needs to cut out the silly errors that seem to assail him in the big matches, or he will be in danger of becoming the next Tim Henman.