VOLUME xViI ISSUE 1
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IRELAND’S AWARD-WINNING STUDENT NEWSPAPER
21st September 2010
FEATURES Are Celtic Tiger cubs too lazy to find employment?
COMMENT IS TWITTER RELEVENT IN ANALYSING THE MISTAKES OF POLITICIANS?
Students left confused by changes in residence administration AMY BRACKEN Students who were booked in accommodation in Roebuck Halls were informed upon arrival that their accommodation was unavailable and they would need to seek temporary accommodation. The University Observer understands that students who booked accommodation in phases one and two of Roebuck were not accommodated, as students who had booked rooms in the unfinished phase three were accommodated in phases one and two. Phase three is scheduled to be ready in the third week of term. A student living on campus told The University Observer that the students affected, many of them first years, were informed of the situation by email. “Their Licence to Reside says the 6th, so you can see why they were confused,” the student said. It has also come to the attention of The University Observer that students who rejected rooms, but then changed their minds, have been able to reclaim their rooms, despite the fact that it may have already been allocated to someone else. The student went on to say: “I think that there were really big issues with the SIS, that it was live the whole time. Someone was getting a room, and then someone else was picking the same room.” UCDSU Welfare Vice-President Scott Ahearn described the situation as “a massive mistake on Residences part,” and cited lack of communication as the reason. This year a former convent at Muckross, near Donnybrook, was added as a UCD residence. “There’s no photos online, it’s a convent,” Ahearn said, adding that the rooms at
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SCIENCE The truth behind the popular zombie myth Page 15
SU slam university’s decision to offer extra points for maths AMY BRACKEN
CD Students’ Union have slammed the university’s decision to start awarding extra points for Leaving Certificate higher level maths, starting in 2012 on a four-year trial basis. The university is to consult with other universities in the coming weeks before deciding upon the appropriate couse of action. The move has been welcomed by UCD Registrar, Dr Philip Nolan, who believes that this will boost the uptake of higher level maths. He stated that the university felt “that increasing mathematics attainment at second and third level is essential and that bonus points is likely to increase the uptake of higher mathematics”. He went on to say that the initiative “will only be successful if it is part of a suite of measures to interest students in mathematics, to ensure the best possible teaching and to support student learning,” and that the onus is on the government to “ensure that all students have equal access to higher mathematics and that it is available in all schools”. However, UCDSU have not given their support to the decision, stating that it is “merely putting a band aid over a gaping wound”. UCDSU President Paul Lynam acknowledged that there are issues with the current higher level mathematics curriculum, but says bonus points are not the answer: “The introduction of bonus points will give students an unfair advantage in accessing courses where Maths is irrelevant such as Law and Medicine.
Students queue for the SU bookshop on its opening day Photo: Bridget Fitzsimons Students will put an unbalanced amount of time trying to achieve high grades in honours Maths and in doing so, neglect other subjects.” The university has acknowledged that problems, such as a shift in the points race as well as a lack of higher level teaching facilities in some rural areas, may lead to more and more students being denied the chance to enter university, and thus the scheme is to be initially implemented on a trial basis. Minister for Education Mary Coughlan has welcomed the move and hopes that it
will encourage the other six universities in the country to follow suit. Lynam said that the initiative “is a shortsighted and temporary attempt at a solution, but not a realistic or viable option. The government needs a long-term maths strategy to put resources into second-level education and to cater for students struggling at both honours and ordinary level.” Higher level maths has been criticised on the basis of a low uptake rate and the fact that less than half of the country’s mathematics teachers are fully qualified to teach
the subject. Lynam expressed his belief that the initiative will have little impact on the uptake of science subjects at third level. “There is no evidence supporting the theory that awarding bonus points for maths will result in more students choosing to study science, engineering and similar subjects. A study by the Irish Universities Association in 2008 discovered that 61% of students with honours Maths chose a field of study other than science, engineering or technology.”
Britvic sign exclusivity deal with university KATIE HUGHES
CD has negotiated a deal with Britvic Ireland that entitles them to exclusively sell the products across campus in an effort to secure funding. The deal ensures that Coca-Cola company products including Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite will no longer be stocked in any shops, restaurants or vending machines on campus. The deal ensures that no outlet on campus will sell any non-Britvic product. Britvic products include Ballygowan, Club Orange and Pepsi. A university spokesperson stated that a decision was made to put the vending out to tender in an effort to “improve cost effectiveness and service”.
The deal is expected to go ahead despite 52% percent of UCD students voting to overturn the UCDSU Coca-Cola boycott last year. The ban was initiated in 2003 by UCDSU and put to the student body to vote on as a sign of opposition to the murder of several of its unionised employees in Columbia. In September 2006, the UCD Federal Court proclaimed that Coca-Cola was not found to be in violation of any human rights, a statement reaffirmed by the US Court of Appeals in 2009. The University Observer is not aware if the ban overturn was taken into consideration in the UCD-Britvic negotiations. UCDSU President Paul Lynam believes that “the college must take financial decisions in the best interests of the institution,’’ while acknowledging that students must be given the widest choice possible.
“In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to make such decisions, but we must be realistic and explore options that offer more
funding for UCD and its students.” Lynam has said that he feels that it is difficult for the SU to oppose such a deal when
they are lobbying against funding cuts, despite holding a referendum to overturn the Coca-Cola boycott. He stated that that they will “explore any initiative that allows UCD to continue to provide the highest standards of education for its students”. Exclusivity deals, such as the one entered into by UCD, are more common in American universities with Pennsylvania State University being the first to sign a $14 million contract with Pepsi-Cola to exclusively sell their products for ten years in 1992. Many American universities have since followed suit, including the University of Maryland, the University of Oregon and the University of Cincinnati. It is thought that UCD will be a test run for such business deals occurring in Europe and that other universities may also enter into deals with drinks companies.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
Under the PRTLI5 (Programme for
Student Centre set to open ahead of schedule
Research in Third Level Institu-
News in Brief UCD Awarded €62.7m under PRTLI 5 to Advance Innovation UCD has been awarded €62.7m as part of the single largest investment in third-level research in the history of the State.
tions), 15 key UCD projects are to receive funding, with the UCD Science Centre receiving the largest funding of €37.7m. It is now set to become the largest national resource harbouring 2,000 researchers and postgraduate students in a newly renovated 45,000 square metre building. The funding is intended to support new infrastructural developments, structured PhD programmes and development research. The PRTLI also awarded funding to Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Brian Cowen made the announcement in July, stating: “This announcement is another clear signal that we are confident about the future of our country.” UCD Student Comes Seventh in Miss Universe 20-year-old UCD student Rozanna Purcell came seventh in this year’s Miss Universe pageant. The contest was won by Miss Mexico, Ximena Navarrete, but Purcell was considered a favourite
CD’s new Student Centre is set to be completed and ready for use by next September, according to the project manager and Student Centre manager Dominic O’Keeffe. Excitement has surrounded the structure as its progress was evident before the summer break. Mr O’Keeffe believes he and the whole of UCD can be proud of and take heart in the progress that has been made, stating that it will add a “whole new dimension” to the campus. Students can look forward to access a wide range of new facilities. On completion, the centre shall include an Olympic-size (50m) swimming pool, a media studio, debating and drama theatres, as well a new student health centre. Another feature of the centre will be a cinema which will have reduced prices for students and will, according to Mr O’Keeffe, bring “UCD into the 21st century”. Filmsoc, Dramsoc and the debating societies such as the L & H and Lawsoc, will be given offices, as will the campus media outlets. The construction of the centre has been subject to some criticism. The current Student Centre was opened just nine years ago, and a large portion of the funding for the centre has come from the student registration fee. Mr O’Keeffe says all attempts have been made to ensure students are given what they want and he is adamant that they will not be found wanting. Furthermore, he promises this is not the end of the changes within UCD. Encour-
The new student centre will feature a gym and pool.
aged by the success of the new Student Centre and the fact that it is to open ahead of schedule, he is hopeful that a revamp of the Sports Centre can happen in the coming years. A foundation stone laying ceremony is being
Centre can be found in the information hut outside the sports centre. A comprehensive list of details on the facilities that will be available in the centre can be found at www.ucd. ie/studentcentre.
set for a date in October, with plans for an opening ceremony still in the works. Students can track the progress of the centre via a live webcam which is available online. Further information on UCD’s new Student
by Paddy Power Bookmakers, who gave her 9-2 odds to win the competition. Purcell will now be taking a year out of university to pursue an international modeling career with Trump Model Management. Donald Trump offered Purcell the modeling contract after her participation in this year’s Miss Universe Contest, which took place in the Mandalay Bay Resort and casino last month. Purcell said that it has always been her dream to model in New York: “As long as I’m doing that, whether it’s with Victoria’s Secret or whoever, I’ll be happy.” CAO Points Rise CAO Points for a number of courses on offer at UCD rose considerably this year. The most significant rise was seen in Science Omnibus, where the point requirements rose 50 points to 435 from 2009. Law and Architecture saw a small
BNAG UNI OBSERVER AD 2010_11_Layout 1 19/07/2010 16:52 Page 1
(Continued from page 1) Many students who arrived to check in on the first day of Orientation Week were unaware that they would require their student cards before collection. It is the understanding of the The University Observer that these students were not provided with a place in which to store their luggage when they were directed to the other side of campus to collect their student cards. This year saw a change to the system of allocating on-campus rooms. The former distance scheme of allocation was scrapped in favour of a “first come, first served” system. Ahearn explained how “first years used to have more priority. The waiting list was the 15th June, so many missed out on the opportunity altogether.” The change to the allocation system has also resulted in a number of students needing to move to Dublin for the academic year, missing out on on-campus accommodation as a result of Dublin and surrounding students being eligible for on-campus accommodation. Ahearn believes that the management of UCD Residences was aware some rooms were not going to be ready on time, yet still did not adjust the date on the License to Reside issued to those students affected. Ahearn also said: “They only gave them a list of B&Bs. That’s not the level of support they should have been given.” Ahearn stated that funding issues were behind the overhaul to admissions this year: “It’s about time that money is not the number one drive of this university.” A spokesperson for UCD stated that “UCD Residences have apologised for any delays and inconveniences experienced by students while checking in to their accommodation, and have thanked students for their understanding.”
Bord na Gaeilge UCD www.ucd.ie/bnag
to Want r ve you o r p m i tional a s r e v con Irish?
Courses for Student s & Staf f 2010-201 1
rise of ten points each, while the Health Sciences saw a steady increase in points across the board. The demand for Engineering dropped 20 points from last year’s requirements to 425. The current economic situation has been cited in drawing mature students back to education, which resulted in an increased demand for places in university courses. UCDSU Education Vice-President James Williamson told The University Observer that “there was an increase of slightly above 17 per cent in the numbers of mature students applying alone”. Mr. Williamson also added that the points rise is “great for UCD, as it means the quality of students we take in has improved”. - Sinéad O’Brien
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THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
Plans for UCD delegation trip to Rome put on hold AMY BRACKEN
he University Observer has learned that a delegation of students scheduled to represent UCD at an educational symposium in Rome will be replaced. Instead, university and Students’ Union officials were, at the time of printing, attempting to find a new delegation to represent UCD. Former UCDSU Education Vice-President, Donnacha Ó Súilleabháin, was asked to arrange a delegation for the conference in the absence of former UCDSU President and current President of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), Gary Redmond, last year. Ó Súilleabháin told The University Observer: “The delegation which I asked to attend the conference with me was composed of people who I felt might be interested in what are essentially quite ‘niche’ topics (including the Bologna process, student mobility and the Erasmus programmes). The students in question all have a background representing UCD in various ways, most of them have been elected representatives at some point and all of them have been heavily involved in student life for the past number of years.”
It is the understanding of The University Observer that the Vice-President for Students, Dr Martin Butler, requested the current UCDSU president Paul Lynam to nominate a new delegation for the trip. Lynam said of the matter: “I’ve been asked to put together a delegation to go to Rome for this conference, and time permitting, we hope to do that; it will be a new delegation and not the delegation that was assembled.” When questioned why the original delegation was not attending the Symposium, Lynam replied: “If I’m picking my team, it’s going to be my team.” Redmond, his predecessor, declined to comment on the matter. However, contrary to this, Ó Súilleabháín told The University Observer that the trip was not going ahead, citing the timing of the conference and the cost as reasons for this: “Unfortunately, by the time all of these factors became apparent, the deadline for registration of new attendees had passed, coupled with the fact that there is quite a lot of written work and research involved in attending the conference, I did not ask anyone else to replace us.” It is thought that Ó Súilleabháin’s delegation was not deemed fit to go to Rome due to the controversy surrounding Science Day 2009, in which funds raised for Crumlin
Children’s Hospital allegedly went missing. Ó Súilleabháin was the subject of further controversy during the summer when he chose to hide his identity from a national newspaper while participating in a USI protest. Ó Súilleabháin called himself Dennis O’Sullivan and claimed to be a recent graduate of Trinity College Dublin.
“The students in question all have a background representing UCD in various ways“ In addition, the former officer and Achill native told the newspaper he was from Ballina in Co. Mayo and had graduated from Trinity College Dublin, despite still being in second Neuroscience in UCD.
UCD agrees to subsidise health insurance scheme for students
Non-UCD students allegedly force early closure of Student Bar AMY BRACKEN
The UCD Student Bar was forced to close early on the first day of term, Black Monday, as a result of overcrowding and the collapse of the smoking area. The closure coincided with tensions, as a number of people were refused admission for not producing a UCD student card, despite students with valid student cards being permitted to bring a friend to the bar. It is understood that, as the day progressed, a number of non-UCD students were refused admission and that the bar was at maximum capacity at approximately 11pm. The manager of the bar, Declan Hyland, said that he decided to close the bar for health and safety issues, as a result of the bar reaching its maximum capacity. “Due to the fact that there was about 100 people in the queue, and also we had people that had been refused for being non-UCD students, and then those people that were in the smoking area – we had no way of differentiating between who had been in and who hadn’t been in and so forth. For health and safety issues, we had to close the bar.” Mr Hyland emphasised the fact that no one was permitted to the bar without presenting a
CD Students’ Union has negotiated with the VicePresident for Students, Dr Martin Butler, for the college to subsidise €5 of Quinn Healthcare’s new health insurance scheme for UCD students. Students will now pay €40 for the unique healthcare plan, which will cover two visits to a psychiatrist, two visits to a nurse and four visits to a GP in the Student Health Centre over a twelvemonth period. It is 13 months since the announcement that students were to be charged for use of the Student Health Centre, setting a visit to a nurse at €10 and a visit to a Doctor at €25, whereas prior to this there was no charge. A consultation with a psychiatrist now costs €40 per hour. Students who struggled to pay these charges previously had the option of applying to the Student Welfare Fund, which was set up by SU Welfare Officer Scott Ahearn, in an effort to assist students without the means to pay their medical fees. A university spokesperson said that the cost of the policy is “considerably less than the alternative options available in the wider marketplace”. UCDSU President Paul Lynam stated that he is “opposed to pay-peruse healthcare in UCD” and that he has always believed “that healthcare for students should be paid from the student services charge”. However, he concedes that this scheme is a step in the right direction, saying that it could lead to greater savings for students. “[The scheme] has the potential to save students hit by illness a considerable amount of money.”
Former Education Vice President Donnacha Ó Súilleabháin lent unwelcome controversy to the delegation.
valid UCD student card to the security person on duty. “We probably turned away up to 50 people, for basically not having their student card.” Pulse Security, the security firm employed by UCD, declined to comment, however Mr Hyland emphasised the fact that they were not to be held responsible for the closure and that he was satisfied with their response that night. “I have to commend the staff that we had last night for handling the situation.” SU President Paul Lynam said the closure was due to the length of the queue and also due to “capacity issues”. “We couldn’t monitor the way that they were coming in and out,” he later stated. When asked about the issue of non-UCD students being permitted entry, the President said: “We operate on a system of ‘You can bring a friend if you have a student card.’” However, Lynam was adamant that the admission of friends had nothing to do with the early closure, and that it was a combination of overcrowding and the collapse of the smoking area. Lynam echoed the words of Mr Hyland, despite reports from students stating differently. He said: “There was really no major incidents to report on – troubles were at a minimum. Security was quite pleased. The report from the day is positive.”
B&L society without auditor Students may now choose to avail of a student health insurance scheme
Lynam added: “UCDSU has worked hard to deliver this scheme for students and it’s a major step forward for student healthcare in UCD.” UCDSU Welfare Vice-President Scott Ahearn spoke of his view of the financial benefits of the scheme, stating that it will “relieve some of the pressure and allay students’ concerns regarding healthcare,” and that he expects the scheme to offer an “ex-
cellent alternative to pay-per-use”. Students who choose not to adopt specially tailored health plan face the same charges that were present last year. Students can sign up to the scheme or request more information at stands in Quinn School of Business, the Newman Building and the Science Building.
The Business and Law (B&L) society will not have a tangible presence at this year’s Fresher’s Week. According to Chairman of Societies Council, Stephen Whelan, the council did not feel that any suitable candidates had presented themselves for the role of auditor of the society. Whelan told The University Observer that “the only candidates for the position of B&L Auditor last year were not eligible to stand for the position, and as such there is no Auditor currently in place”. It is not known whether a suitable candidate will seek election for the position. Controversy surrounded the society last year after they were
fined €5,000 in partnership with Arts Society by the Societies Council for posters promoting their joint event “The Virgin Ball”. The posters in question urged attendees to “lose [their] Vplates”. In an official statement, the Societies Council called the poster “insidious and dangerous,” and stated that it “constituted a deliberate act of emotional manipulation designed to prey on the fears and worries of students at an especially vulnerable time in their University career.” Auditor of B&L society for the 2009/10 session, Aoife McGuinness, was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
Please Talk Launches National Conference Jennifer Fitzgerald
he student suicide prevention initiative Please Talk has been officially launched nationwide following a national conference held on August 5th. The campaign is now active in 33 education institutions in the Republic and Northern Ireland, and a national steering committee is being put in place to strategically direct the campaign. Please Talk reaches out to students in 3rd level education and offers information on counselling services in their specific college or university, with the simple slogan “talking is a sign of strength, not weakness”. UCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer Scott Ahearn believes this boost is necessary: “It’s great with the campaign being in so many colleges, but we need to look at them all together to re-energise the message, so everyone’s on the same page.” However, Please Talk has been involved in controversy. In 2008, questions were asked over the massive grants that the initiative received from the HSE. When questioned about this, Ahearn stated that all accounts have been verified: “You can look at what happened in the past, but I think what is much more important is that finally we look forward.” Please Talk was founded in UCD in 2007, in response to a number of student deaths on campus. The recently appointed Chairperson of the campaign, Aisling O’Grady, expressed her delight at the progress that the campaign has been making in UCD. O’Grady again emphasised the simple message: “What it is, is two messages, one, talking is really important, as well as sharing any issues and concerns you have. Secondly, this is how to get in touch with
Number 10 bus to be merged other routes Amy Bracken
Dublin Bus has announced that it is to merge the Number 10 bus route to UCD with the Number 39, however the city centre to UCD route will not be affected. As part of the Network Direct project, Route 10 will soon be merged with Route 46a and Route 39a. A spokesperson for Dublin Bus told The University Observer: “The routing and service that is currently offered by Route 10 is not changing and customers will now have an improved level of service. Route number 10 will no longer be in use, but the routing and bus stops it currently serves will be provided for by Route 46a and Route 39a.” Route 46a is to be extended to the Phoenix Park via Phibsboro and Please Talk has officially launched nationally, having started in UCD in 2007.
Please Talk is funded by both the HSE and fundraising. Ms O’Grady, however, maintained that although funding was an important issue, Please Talk was not to be mistaken for a “lobbying group”: “I don’t see that as the Please Talk role. It is a group of people, of communities, of students and staff, who work with young people coming together to say, please talk to us.” The campaign is also working in conjunction with outside agencies such as reachout.
people who will help you, from your college.” The Please Talk website has been redesigned, and the amount of students that it is reaching is at an all time high. Ms O’ Grady said: “I don’t think any campaign is ever perfect, but we’re doing our best to reach out to as many students, and it’s about 330,000 students now, through this campaign, through something which started in UCD, from people who cared in UCD, that is now going out to those 330,000 students.”
North Circular Road along the cur-
com in organising national mental health weeks. Aside from Remembrance Day on November 1st this year, a candle-lit vigil is being organised to commemorate students who have passed away. With regards the future of the campaign, Ahearn stated: “It’s important that people realise, looking at the message that Please Talk sends, that idea of being aware of student supports, and that we’re there for them, that’s the most important thing.”
rent Route 10 alignment from St. Stephen’s Green. Dublin Bus says that the service will operate every ten minutes during the day. Route 39a will operate from UCD to Ongar via Waterloo Road along the current Route 10 alignment on the south of the city, with services expected every ten minutes in daytime hours. The Number 10 has provided a
Science Day to Seek Societal Recognition
regular and direct service from the city centre to UCD for many years and has been a vital means of transport for many students. It was originally announced that these changes would take place in July. However, there were fears of the service being removed altogether when Dublin Bus began making complaints of UCD students damaging much of their fleet due to anti-social behaviour. The news has been welcomed by the UCD Students’ Union. UCDSU
Science Day 2009/2010 present Crumlin Children’s Hospital with cheque for E 34,467.88.
CD Science Day must begin to fall under the jurisdiction of a recognised society in order for the annual even to continue, in spite of the marked success of Science Day 2010. The University Observer understands that due to a new fundraising policy in UCD, Science Day is applying to create a Science Society. The planning of the Science Day 2011 will begin as soon as the application is expected to be granted. A key date in the UCD calendar for over 20 years, Science Day is a long-standing tradi-
tion of the Science Faculty. The event made over €34,000 to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin from funds raised during Science Day 2010. The event proved an enormous success with UCD Science students cycling, ‘Jock Walking’ and dancing their way to €34,467.88 for the facility. The proceeds have been donated to the Crumlin Medical Research Foundation’s Cancer Fund, an organisation that supports the hospital’s medical research and the purchase of new equipment for the facility. Last year’s Science Day Committee proudly
presented the cheque during the summer break. UCD Students’ Union Education Officer James Williamson acted as Chair of the Committee for Science Day 2010, saying that it had been a “tough year” and that it was “great to see that all the hard work had paid off”. Williamson attributed the success of Science Day 2010 to hard work and student support. “If the students hadn’t gotten involved with us it would have completely flopped,” he said. According to Williamson, the majority of events organised in the 09/10 campaign raised “more than we expected, with
President Paul Lynam said: “The
the exception of the 90s party,” which occurred in the run-up to exams. An action packed February ensured that thousands of euro was added to the fund for the Research Foundation. In February alone students cycled to Galway, held a Graffiti Party, trekked through lectures in laboratory coats and underwear on the traditional Jock Walk, as well as attending the annual Science Ball. Williamson believes that the efforts of the Committee to ensure people felt involved in Science Day were central to the campaign’s success. - Sarah Doran
UCD says overhaul of car parks has not affected space numbers
ecent work on car parks has led to staff and student concerns over the amount of car parking spaces available to them. Car parks, such as the one behind the Agricultural Science building, now have a tarred driveway all around them. Any cars parked on the tarred portion are liable to be clamped, with clamp release fees starting at €80. These new regulations have led to concern over reduced parking spaces in these areas, in spite of a number of new car parks being added and extensions made to existing car parks on campus.
UCD’s Commuting Manager, John Free, is confident that the overall number of parking spaces has not been affected: “Over the summer, increased building work on campus and in particular, the enabling works for the UCD Sutherland School of Law, have resulted in some changes to car park locations and type, however the overall number of car park spaces has not been affected.” In the coming months, parking will be provided near Newstead as part of the wider campus development. This will offset the reduced car parking adjacent to the Student Centre. However, extra vehicles from building works have placed added pressure
on UCD’s already overcrowded parking system. There are a number of pay-and-display parking areas on campus, which have a fivehour parking limit. Students and staff are encouraged to check the signs where they park to avoid being clamped for not display a parking ticket. A spokesperson for the University said: “The pay-and-display car park beside Belfield House has been removed until November 2010 to allow for the realignment of internal roadways. Spaces from this area are now accommodated in the car park between the Quinn School and the engineering building.”
However, new pay and display areas have been implemented. The spokesperson said that the car park between the Quinn School and engineering building is now a pay-anddisplay car park to facilitate lost funds from the car park beside Belfield House. The new areas available for student and staff parking include the car park between the Quinn School and the engineering building; a temporary car park at the new Sutherland School of Law, and the car park beside Belfield House. The parking regulatory company, NCPS, was not available for comment at the time of going to press. - Amy Bracken and Alyson Gray
Students’ Union is delighted that UCD has managed to hold onto the only direct bus route from campus to the city. Students must be properly served by a safe and easily accessible bus service. We congratulate Dublin Bus on its decision following extensive lobbying from the Students Union.” UCD Students’ Union Campaigns & Communications Vice-President, Pat De Brún, said: “We campaigned to ensure UCD students did not lose out to the rationalisation process of Dublin Bus. The Number 10 is not only a vital service, but it is iconic in UCD history.” A spokesperson for Dublin Bus said “all number 10 services will operate as normal up until 11pm and we are currently in discussions with UCD over late night services”. An exact date for the merging of the routes has not been set, but a spokesperson for Dublin Bus told The University Observer that customers will be informed when the changes are due.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
UCD’s world ranking falls in separate surveys
duce less accurate results. UCD Students’ Union President Paul LyEOIN BRADY nam pointed out that the surveys failed to take into account important aspects of unireport has shown that UCD is versity life: “They don’t include sports facilno longer in the top 100 univerities, societies, graduate employment rate.” sities in the world, having falling Lynam was keen to emphasise that there is from 89th to 114th place globa “huge difference between being 99th and ally. Another report places UCD at 94th in 101st,” and said he presumed this would the world. have an effect on international students’ Both the QS World University Rankings choice of academic institution. report and the Times Higher Education/ Lynam blames government spending cuts Reuters (THE) report relegated Trinity for UCD’s decline: “You cannot maintain College Dublin, causing it to lose its topyourself as a top-100 university when your 50 position in both. UCC joined UCD and budget gets cut dramatically.” He pointed Trinity in the top 200 for the first time in to the example of University of Nottingthe QS ratings, by moving from 207th to ham, which was ranked similarly to UCD 184th globally. last year but this year improved further, to QS and Times Higher Education compiled 71st. The difference, he explained, was that university rankings together up until this Nottingham spends €1,400 more per stuyear. Last year was the first year that UCD dent than UCD. featured in the top 100, having steadily inLynam believes that increasing third-level creased its position from 2007 onwards. tuition fees here to follow the British model On a departmental level, some parts of would be inappropriate, as it would reduce UCD fared better than others. QS ranked the percentage of the population attending UCD Arts and Humanities 89th in the third-level institutions. world, a small drop from last year’s posi“The UK has less than 45% uptake at thirdtion. However, Natural Sciences (including level education, from when you do your aPhysics, Chemistry, Biology and Maths) levels to third-level. In Ireland, we are at dropped from 203rd to 261st. 60%, aiming to be at 72%. Our uptake is The remaining recorded departments – Enthe envy of the world.” gineering and IT, Biomedical, Health and A spokesperson for the university stated Life Sciences and Social Sciences – ranked that “the university retains its position in the top 150 of their respective fields. within the top 5% of world universiThe methodology used to devise the rankties. Retaining a top 100 position (94th) ings has been subject to criticism. It has within the more prestigious THE ranking been argued that the QS ratings are not as was a particularly strong achievement for Salsa Wrap 235mm x 157.5mm Final CO.pdf 17/09/2010 11:48:18 UCD.” thorough as the THE report, and thus pro-
de Brún defends lack of collaborative effort on SU diary AOIFE BROPHY
he publication of the first UCD Students’ Union diary has been published, without collaboration with the university diary. A similar diary was published by the university, as has been for several years. This raised questions about the necessity of publishing two almost identical diaries, and the financial burden caused by it. Around 8,000 copies of the Freshers’ Guide and Diary were published for the 5,000 Freshers that started in UCD last week. UCDSU Campaigns and Communications Vice-President Pat de Brún expressed hope that the Students’ Union would publish a guide for all 20,000 students: “I would like see this idea kept on and eventually the Freshers’ Guide will be known as the SU diary and guidebook.” The guide contains information about the SU’s various campaigns and support services, in addition to a diary for the academic year. Questions have been raised over the necessity of having two student guides and diaries, particularly as Trinity College Dublin join with their Students’ Union to publish a student diary as a collaborative effort. When questioned about publishing a second student diary, de Brún emphasised that the Students’ Union is separate from the university. The Students’ Union diary serves the purpose of making first-years aware of the SU’s
UCDSU produced a surplus of diaries for freshers.
existence and the work that it does. It contains information about social events and campaigns, whereas the university diary contains rules, guidelines and information on various services in the campus. Yet there is an overlap in areas such as support services and university life. De Brún declined to comment on the cost of the diaries, as the SU budget is not yet available, and defended the decision to publish a diary rather than a handbook. He claimed that such a move would make a profit in the long run: “In the long-term, the advertising revenue will be higher if the document is one that people will keep for the year.” However, it is understood that
the diary did not make a profit, unlike last year’s Freshers’ Guide, which was published with a profit of around €7,000. The diary also contains information on union campaign weeks, such as Women’s Week and LGBT week, which are highlighted in the guide to create awareness of the events. De Brún believes that the information will be more widely read now that it is in a ringbound format, rather than the fully bound and more compact diary which is issued by the university. De Brún told The University Observer that the university’s diary has “very little practical use”.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
Selling ourselves to the highest bidder Katie Hughes Chief News Writer
oca-Cola and its products such as Fanta and Sprite are once again to be removed from the shelves of Students’ Union shops, a move that has been deemed necessary for funding reasons rather than political. With demand for longer library opening hours, as well as increasing calls for a lower registration fee and the elimination of health care charges, it is hardly surprising that the university income sought a legitimate and fast means of obtaining it. This has led to UCD effectively selling the campus to Britvic Ireland. The recently negotiated deal will see that only Britvic products, with exception of Red Bull, will be sold in all shops, including Students’ Union outlets. This decision was made in spite of the SU referendum held last March, in which 52 per cent of students voted to bring CocaCola and its subsidiary products back to the shelves of the SU shops. This referendum had a formal ‘No’ campaign, which included 40 posters and 1,000 flyers, and no formal ‘Yes’ agent. This ‘No’ campaign, though significantly smaller than the campaigns of the sabbatical candidates that year, required much effort, time and money. All of this could now be deemed a complete waste of time.
While it is understandable for the university to have its own prerogative, especially given the severity of its debts. However, it has to asked if the efforts and opinions of students are being taken into account. A portion of the now semesterised registration fee goes to the SU. While the money is used for a variety of different causes, part of it is used for the various annual elections and referenda. Was this referendum just another waste of students’ money on behalf of our SU? No – it was necessary step taken to review a policy that had been put in place by students who are no longer in UCD. The outcome of the referendum was that students were no longer morally opposed to the selling of Coca-Cola in shops, which meant that it could be reintroduced. The ban had initially been put in place in 2003 by the SU following accusations against the Columbian branch of Coca-Cola in playing a role in the murders of several of its employees that were trade union members. For the past few years, despite it not being available in SU shops, Coca-Cola has still been available to students on campus – in vending machines, shops and restaurants. However, with the new ban in place, CocaCola is no longer for sale anywhere on campus. While the SU decided to boycott Coca-Cola and its products for the past seven years, the university chose to supply Coca-Cola in other outlets. However, now that the boycott has been lifted and the SU has decided
Coca-Cola will soon no longer be available from UCD outlets.
to actively re-introduce the products, the university, knowing this, put the “vending out to tender”, according to a university spokesperson. As innovative as the idea is, there remains that lingering fear that this is simply an attempt to commercialise our university. Is any deal that brings in money now to be deemed acceptable? Is our university’s name being sold to the highest bidder? Are we a commodity up for sale? These questions can
only be answered once we see the next major step our university is willing to take in its effort to secure funding, which is supposedly for our benefit. The exclusivity deal that is now in place is, undoubtedly, an effective method to secure a substantial amount of money. This type of contract is one that is more common in American universities, but it will probably become more widespread in Ireland as universities across the country look for new
methods to secure funding. While the removal of Coca-Cola products from campus narrows down choices for students, it would be an exaggeration to say that the lack of availability of the drink and its subsidiaries will have much negative impact on them. However, what UCD is going to do with the money procured from the deal and whether it will have been worth having to go off campus for our fix of Coca-Cola remains to be seen.
Living on a prayer Amy Bracken News Editor
or many students living away from home during the college year, oncampus accommodation is the first port of call as the race to find a home-away-from-home begins. This is particularly applicable to first year students, many of whom travel long distances with little or no knowledge of Dublin. This all adds to anticipation, and in many cases, fear and anxiety about “flying the nest”. The idea of living on campus should help subdue fears. For those lucky enough to book a room in the newly established third phase at Roebuck Halls, they were met with confusion upon arrival on a bleak and rainy Monday. Firstly, after trekking through the city after hours of travel, and thinking they were finally about to escape the pouring rain, these students were informed that they needed to trek further. They had go to the other side of campus, armed with their luggage, to collect their student cards in order to reach their rooms. After the trek, and the inevitable queues that followed for student card collection, some students were informed that until their fees were paid, they couldn’t receive their student cards, and therefore couldn’t enter their rooms. For a first-year student moving away
from home, this may have been the first instance of homesickness they are to experience as the realisation set in that they may be destined to homelessness for the time being. For those lucky enough to receive their student cards, the final straw was being told that their room was not fit to live in and would not be ready for another four weeks. This must have led to tears and hopelessness for these already anxious and homesick students. UCD Residences surely warrant criticism for their handling of the situation, as they barely provided help in finding temporary accommodation for these students. Experiences such as those witnessed on the first day of Orientation Week may well have damaging effects on incoming students. Living away from home can be an unnerving experience and to discover that you are not going to be able to settle into your new home until well into the college term halts the settling process which is so vital in those first few weeks. Living in a B&B some distance away from the university is hardly the kind of experience that is going to enable a lonely, anxious young person settle into their new life. Students who protested against the situation were told that an email had been circulated informing them that their room would not be available until the third week of term – a direct contradiction of the legally-binding Licence to Reside which had been attached with the email, which set the move-in date as Monday, 6th September. That aside, first year students can hardly be expected to be keeping watch on their UCD Connect accounts when the majority haven’t even set foot on the campus. UCDSU Welfare Vice-President Scott Ahearn echoes this, citing funding as a reason why the students were not directly con-
Thousands of students queue to get their student cards during orientation week.
tacted by telephone about the situation. It was an extreme situation that could have serious implications, and thus more measures should have been taken to communicate the situation to those affected, and also more help should have been provided in seeking temporary accommodation. Being handed a list of local B&Bs when you have no means of being transported there and when you probably have no means of paying for it can hardly be classed as adequate assistance. Additionally, the recently acquired accommodation at Muckross, which is a converted former convent is insufficient for two reasons. The first is that the bedrooms are reported to be extremely small. It is impossible
to settle into an inadequate room miles away from home and be expected to settle in. The second reason is the fact that the accommodation is situated a few miles away from campus and thus there will be transport issues to and from the university to consider. The same applies to the accommodation provided at the UCD Smurfit School of Business in Blackrock. A number of students there are applying to switch to rooms in campus-situated accommodation, but for this they must join the already long waiting list. As regards the change in the allocation scheme, while the former scheme of allotting rooms based on your home’s distance from the university was flawed, it seemed
better than what is in place now. First year students under this scheme were given priority. This year’s first-come, first-served system has denied many first year students the chance to live on campus, as well as many international students. This can be attributed to the mistake made by Residences of allowing students to book rooms from the middle of June onwards. Those first experiences of UCD can be detrimental to a student’s experience at this university, and the failure of Residences to provide adequate assistance is something that needs to be addressed and rectified, so that no more students are affected by the chaos that erupted at the start of this academic year at their hands.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
Accommodation Frustration “I never take students. I had them once. They were very bad tenants and they set fire to the place”
With confusion on campus and doors closing elsewhere, Features Editor Leanne Waters investigates why letting agents are saying no to students
very year, thousands of students flood to Belfield in the hope of getting on-campus accommodation or, alternatively, off-campus digs. After tremendous confusion this year over UCD accommodation at the beginning of the semester, many were left with no choice but the latter. With some students being able to access places that should have been reserved for final-year students and many left without any places whatsoever, the UCD Accommodation Office was greatly under pressure. Given that such miscarriages of administration were found within UCD itself, one would think that opting for lettings around the Dublin area would be the wiser choice. However, a pattern is appearing more and more of individuals being refused lettings based on the fact that they are students. The University Observer Spoke to Director of KMC Lettings, Ms. Karen Cummins, who was able to shed some light as to why students are facing difficulties in being taken on as tenants. “Well, to be honest with you, it’s not really the agents; it’s more to do with the landlords. And there are a number of issues.” “The most precedent one would be that, as much as students assure you that they’ll take the property for several months – which is generally what a lease is for – experience is that they don’t. They just leave before the lease expires and they usually don’t pay the last rent which means there’s no security deposit. Now I’m not generalising here, I’m just saying that that’s the experience that agents would have had, or landlords would have had.” Ms. Cummins goes on to explain how what is often seen as typical student behaviour can damage the general reputation and thus inhibit individuals’ chances of letting agents and landlords taking students on as regards properties. “I suppose the other thing is, especially first years away from home for the first time, [they] get a bit carried away at parties. [They’re] not as responsible as they might be. So I suppose they’re the primary two reasons. Students just,
Students have a bad reputation among letting agents and landlords for anti-social behaviour and ruining houses.
by their nature, may have more in the house than there should be, which we all do our first time away from home. But that’s what landlords are afraid of.” Ms Cummins explained that landlords are often reluctant to let to students as they simply cannot be trusted to keep to their lease agreements. “The worst experience I’ve had with students was that there is a twelve-month lease and they say that ‘we’re going to stay and work up here for the summer’; but they don’t. They just leave. I think the solution to that is to factor it into the rent. It’s usually their first time out of home and they do tend to party.” She also told The University Observer that landlords are willing to wait for other tenents, who will stay in a property for the full lease term, saying that “the other reluctance that landlords have is that if I rent that property to anybody else but students, they’ll sign a twelve month lease whereas students tend either not to want to do that or even if they sign a twelve month lease that they leave before the twelve months.” In adding to this, it seems that students on occasion can exhibit more than your average run-ofthe-mill partying tendencies. An independent landlord in the Bray area, Ms Carmel Tude, explains her only experience with student tenants and why she states that she would never take students again. “I never take students. I had them once. They were very bad tenants and they set fire to the place. They left and had a big party, setting fire to the entire apartment. They broke everything
– cooker, chairs, tables, everything.” Ms Tude explains that professionals are simply easier tenents than students. She stated that “I would normally take people that are working because people that are working are out all day and they’re past the student stage”. She also noted that, despite taking a deposit, damages are not always covered: “You do get a deposit but if you get a lot of damage, it just doesn’t cover what they do. If you’re a landlord, you just have to be very careful who you take. I don’t think there’s any other answer.” Student opinions seem mixed. In response to somewhat harsh statements such as above, secondyear Commerce student Adam Benson states, “It’s just poor to be honest because students would probably need accommodation more than other people. And it’s the perfect time as well; it’s that
transition period into adulthood when you want to get independence and that sort of thing.” “Also, I think it’s a very general, sweeping view of students that we’re all destructive and would potentially wreck the place. It’s not true and it’s not right to be honest. Probably very few students would actually wreck a house if they got hold of it. I know personally, if I got my own place, I’d be so delighted with it that I wouldn’t wreck it at all and certainly wouldn’t let anyone else wreck it either.” It is certainly no lie that living away from home, aside from the everyday living demands, is a very costly business. And so, it seems strange that any student should want to risk accommodation for the sake of a bit of fun. It would definitely prove to be extraordinarily pricey banter. For example, the fees alone to live in on-campus residencies could
Roebuck residences can prove a far more costly alternative to private rentals
create a financial drought greater than that of Anglo Irish. For the 2010/2011 academic year, fees for the popular residencies ranked as follows: Belgrove, €4,288; Merville, €4,288; and Roebuck stood at an incredible €5,324.
fter investigating the price difference to be found, the temptation to seek lettings over campus accommodation became all too apparent. One example to be found was one four-bedroom letting succeeding at a rate of €1,300 monthly. Taking for granted that four people would inhabit said house and that they stayed there for an entire academic year, the total came to approximately €2,925. With a difference of over two thousand euro to be saved in comparison to the Roebuck price tag, it’s not surprising that students today are hopping on the property bandwagon. But forget about getting the rent in on time; the real question is now starting to emerge of whether or not students can even pull it together enough to prove their determination in making a home during their years of study. After all, we must take into light the root of such reluctance on the part of landlords and letting agents. Have students, in fact, dug this hole for themselves through misguided antics? Nursing student, Anna Loughlin, says she can see the argument from both sides. “Well I can understand where they’re coming from because I’m sure a lot of students don’t have respect for where they’re living or have trouble paying the rent. But at the
same time, I think it’s wrong to tar all students with the same brush when a lot of students are actually very responsible and would be able to pay their rent and look after their own accommodation.” “Speaking from my own experience, I found that I had no option to stay on campus because it was just too expensive for me to afford and I know that other people have had that experience as well.” Though the opinions found in UCD seem fair, the best opinion was naturally only to be found in a student living away from home and outside the UCD arena. Second-year Social Science student, Aveen Clarke talks through the process she underwent in finding student digs and the inevitable rejections she had to first face. “A few places that we called just literally said ‘no, sorry’. They didn’t ask if we were students but they asked if we had full-time jobs. We’d tell them no, but that we had part-time jobs with our parents paying the rent. And they’d simply say ‘well, if you’re students we won’t take you’. It took us about three weeks, but we were lucky I think. Although, the place we got is fairly far away from college. I mean, we have to get two buses so it’s not that convenient.” With such difficulties, it seems curious that anyone would go to so much trouble to live away from the campus itself. When asked about her choice not to live in UCD residencies such as Roebuck, Merville and Belgrove, Aveen states: “It was way more expensive to live in UCD. Our house is €1,300 a month and we got a tenmonth lease between four of us so for me, it’s only €350 a month. I didn’t even apply for on-campus because I knew it would be so expensive.” “Behaviour-wise, we’ve been okay; we had a party last week and our neighbours and everything came in. I think it is justified for [letting agents] to be nervous to have students in the house, especially if it’s a new house or a house that has been well-kept. We got this house and it is a nice house because it was so well kept.” Between the chaos to be seen of late with the UCD Accommodation Office and - for better judgement or worse - the rejection students are experiencing from letting agents, it appears that one more year with Mum and Dad may, in fact, be a blessing in disguise.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
An bhfuil cuisine duchais sa tír seo? N
uair a smaoiníonn daoine faoi bhia na tíre seo, tagann íomhánna de phrataí, stobhach Gaelach, arán sóide, im, bia mara, bagún agus cabáiste chun cinn. Is iad samplaí de na béilí traidisiúnta a ghabhann le hÉireann. Cé go bhfuil cuma simplí orthu, tá rud speisialta futhú: bíonn comhábhair na béilí seo den chéad scoth. Tá nasc laidir idir cócaireacht na hÉireann agus comhábhair d’ardchaighdeáin. Tugann an nasc seo creidiúnacht do chócaireacht na tíre seo. Tá blas iontach nádurtha gan rufaí a bhaineann lenár gcócaireacht. Gan amhras dá laghad, ar feadh dhá chéad bliain anuas, bhí tionchar suntasach ag an ngorta mór ar chócaireacht na hÉireann. De bharr na tréimhse uafásaigh sin, d’fhulaing cócaireacht na hÉireann. Níor smaoinigh daoine faoi bhia mar rud pleisiúrtha. Bhraith siad gur rud riachtannach é, rud a thabharfadh seans dóibh maireachtáil ar feadh lae eile. Ba thuairim seafóideach é gur mhair ‘cuisine’ dúchasach ar an oileán seo. Is léir gur athraigh stádus cócaireachta na hÉireann nuair a bhunaíodh an scoil cócaireachta ‘Ballymaloe’ i gContae Corcaigh. Tá an cóic Darina Allen i gceannas ar an scoil faoi láthair. Nuair a feictear trí na leabhair atá scríofa aici is léir go bhfuil béim suntasach ar chócaireacht na tíre seo agus ar an réimse leathan comhábhair atá ar fáil ar ár thairseacht. Is scoil den scoth é atá aitheanta ar fud an domhain. Is é aidhm na scoile seo ná
coiceareacht ghaelach a chosaint agus a chaomhnú. Úsáideann muintir na scoile comhábhair áitiúla agus comhábhair a fhásann i ngairdíní Ballymaloe. Bhí deis agam caint le hEibhlinn Ní Labhrada, mac léinn dlí ó UCD, a chaith tréimhse i mBallymaloe. “Taistlíonn Darina ar fud an domhain agus tógann sí go leor spíosraí ar ais leí. Cruthaíonn sé sin comhleá iontach idir chócaireacht na hÉireann agus píosa beag den andúchas”. Chomh maith le sin, deir Eibhlinn, “Ba rud aoibhinn é domsa aire a thabhairt do mo ghlasraí féin agus béilí a dhéanamh leo. Molann an tuairim seo traidisiún cócaireachta na tíre seo”. Rugadh agus tógadh Richard Corrigan ar fheirm bheag i gContae na Mí. Anois, is príomhchócaire é i mbialann le realtanna Michelin i Mayfair. Tógadh é ar bhia folláin, simplí le comhábhair a chuir a chlann ar a bhfeirm féin. Gan amhras, chabhair a óige talamhaíochta leis chun stíl cócaireachta a chothú agus chun bia chláir iontacha, spreagthacha a chruthú. Tá tionchar láidir cócaireachta na hÉireann le feiceáil ar an mbiachlár. Má tá muintir Mayfair i Londain sasta le sin ta sé soléir go bhfuil bua le bia Gaelach. Tá dornán réaltanna Michelin buaite aige, is léir mar sin go bhfuil fiúntas ag gabháil le cócaireacht na tíre seo. Leis an Tíogar Ceilteach, bunaíodh go leor bialann de gach náisiúntacht. Is féidir a rá go bhfuil bia eachtrannach ar fail i bhformhór na mbialann i mBaile Átha Cliath. Ach
seo agus go bhfuil cuid mhór daoine ag déanamh sár-iarracht chun é a fhorbairt thar lear. Tá go leor le hofráil ag cócaireacht na tíre seo. Fad is atá comhábhair den scoth á usáid, is féidir béili iontacha a chruthú le téama Gaelach. Táimid aithinte ar fud an domhain mar gheall ar ár nglasraí, ár mbia mara agus ár déirí. Le bonn mar sin, bonn d’ardchaighdeáin comhábhair, is féidir linn fás agus forbairt a dhéanamh ar sin agus cócaireacht na tíre seo a chur chun cinn. In aineoinn ár stair crua, d’éirigh linn athbhreith a thabhairt d’ár gcóiceaireacht agus muinín inár dtorthaí féin a thabhairt ar ais do phobail na tíre seo. - Bríd Doherty
Gluais ardchaighdeán – high standard comhábhair – ingredients stobhach Gaelach – Irish stew nasc – link creidiúnacht – credibility tionchar – influence Darina Allen, i bhfeighil ar an scoil cóicaireachta i mBallymaloe, Co. Corcaigh
seafóideach – ridiculous
an bhfuil an bia dúchasach ag fulaingt dá bharr sin? An iobartach é den Tíogar Ceilteach? B’fhéidir gur sin an scéal ach ní féidir a shéanadh ach go bhfuil cuid mhór bialann dílis don chóiceaireacht náisiúnta. Tógfaidh mé mar shámpla an bialann Avoca i gContae Chill Mhantáin atá dírithe ar
‘cuisine’ Gaelach den chéad scoth chomh maith le bia ó thíortha iasachta. B’fhéidir gur cóir dúinn tuairm Avoca a chur i bhfeidhm níos mó. Cosnáionn Avoca ár gcócaireacht dúchasach ach meascann siad é le chócaireacht ó thíortha eile, is meascadh spreagúil é. Is léir go bhfuil ‘cuisine’ Gaelach ann sa tír
thairseacht – doorstep soláthair – produce dornán – handful dúchasach – native íobartach – victim
Life After UCD: Journalism
With such turbulent prospects facing UCD graduates, Leanne Waters talks to Gavan Reilly about how he broke into the competitive world of professional journalism.
s yet another semester rolls around, the UCD campus is once again bubbling over with new-faced freshers. In coming here, said newbies had to go through the gruelling process of picking the right college courses. However, only at the beginning of their academic careers at third-level education, most pick their courses based on the direction they want to move towards in later post-graduation years. A big ask for such a young age, no? Thankfully, however, having now secured their next few years here on campus, welcomed students can enjoy building their academic homestead and, for now, put future careers slightly to the back of their mind. The same cannot be said for our final-year students, however. After years of study, extra-curricular activities and general university life, the time has nearly come for these campus-trotting veterans to complete their studies and face that daunting task of actually choosing a career. The drop-off point from university to the workforce is, doubtlessly, a tricky endeavour. While talking to Gavan Reilly, a UCD graduate rapidly establishing himself in the world of journalism, we explore how to make such a notorious transition. During his time here in UCD, Gavan studied commerce and German and was a prominent figure in The University Observer, rising to the post of Deputy Editor in 2009/2010. He is currently working for thejournal.ie - a website created by the
same publishers of daft.ie, which explores and adds new content to current news stories. A contemporary means of news analysis and with no political agendas, the site constantly works towards adding new angles to breaking stories and ongoing
“I firmly believe that writing is a muscle that once you build it up – the more and more you do it, if you just turn it into a habit – that it becomes something that you just inherently become quite good at or very fluid with”
headlines. We discuss with Gavan whether he thinks his time and study in UCD has helped him in career; “I don’t think my degree necessarily had an awful lot of a part to play in getting me where I am, but it’s actually come in more useful than I would have thought it did,” he explains. “It was more because of experience that helped me get into it...when I came to college I was really trying to squeeze every last bit of curricular life out of it...I ended up getting involved in The University Observer in second year. And that was where my journalistic experience really began.” In journalism, name is everything. After finishing up his time here in UCD, Gavan describes the benefits of being a member in the competitive world of student media and how it has stood to his profile. “I think you have to be realistic and I think people perceive student papers to be a lot less of the entity that they are. Everyone who I spoke to from the “real media world” were blown away with the amount of work and professionalism that does go into a student publication.” “They knew that The University Observer was the forefront of student media. But they didn’t quite realise how (well-evolved) that student media had become – that it was there with genuine comparison to a local paper.” On this often nerve-wrecking progression from the complacency of the campus environment to such an infamously difficult industry, Gavan offers his solid and expe-
Gavan Reilly received a President’s Award for his considerable contributions to UCD student life.
rienced advice: “I think the real key that you’re going to have to do is just to get yourself out there.” “So, absolutely get involved in the student newspapers. Start up a blog, get used to Twitter and start just getting used to making writing become a part of your life because I firmly believe that writing is a muscle that once you build it up – the more and more you do it, if you just turn it into a habit – that it becomes something that you just inherently become quite good at or very fluid with. The way to achieve a good quality of work is to do it regularly.” Moreover, Gavan maintains that a necessary part of breaking the journalism world
is continuously building a pyramid of contacts on which to fall back. He explains that “most people that you perceive as being kind of established journalists would actually be quite open to giving advice to newbies. Don’t have any hesitation of dropping anyone you’ve heard of a quick email asking them for their advice because all you need to do is to is get your name in their heads and from there it’s a row of dominoes.” In such a cut-throat business that is everchanging, Gavan’s ability in getting on the bandwagon and persisting in his journalistic efforts is nothing less than hard work at its best. It seems that it is always the determination and earnest work ethic in any career that makes all and any objectives a reality.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
Home and away: UCD volunteers overseas James O’Connor looks at the progression of UCD Volunteers Overseas, from its humble beginnings to the resounding success it has become today
n 2003, former chaplain of UCD, Fr. Tony Coote, was approached by a number of students keen to get involved in voluntary work overseas. Seven years on, UCD Volunteers Overseas (UCDVO) has blossomed into an organisation that, in 2010, sent one hundred volunteers to five different locations in the developing world. As a result of Fr. Coote’s efforts in the summer of 2003, twenty volunteers were sent on what was expected to be a one-off project to Delhi, India. However, due to an overwhelming response, the project was replicated in 2004. Since that time the annual work has expanded to Haiti, Nicaragua and Tanzania respectively. Most recently, the summer of 2010 brought with it a second India-based project taking place in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh. Today, the organisation is in the very capable hands of UCDVO Manager Caroline O’Connor. In 2004, O’Connor travelled with UCDVO to Delhi. Since then, she has graduated with a Masters in Development Studies and spent time interning with UNICEF before taking on this fulltime position. From construction work to sports camps, the projects vary with the needs of the local communities. Over the years, UCDVO have been
involved in the construction of classrooms and healthcare centres, the organisation and implementation of summer camps for local children and this year, in Tanzania, volunteers set up five computer labs in different schools using refurbished computers collected in UCD. A large amount of planning goes into deciding which projects are most deserving of the organisation’s time and money. According to Ms. O’Connor, “the volunteer leaders play a role in working with the local community on a planning trip
which takes place before the main project in the summer [where] they meet with the local organisations and the local communities and assess what are the greatest needs in their area”. Business and Law graduate and volunteer in Haiti in 2010, Barry Colfer, discussed two projects coordinated to combat the devastating effects of flooding during this year’s month-long expedition. Firstly, the construction of dry stone walls took place on the hillsides particularly susceptible to the effects of flooding. Additionally, Colfer was
directly involved in the planting of a “vetiver” – a plant he compared to “a thick elephant grass” ideal for erosion control. O’Connor stressed that each project and task held significance in the overall scheme. For example, UCDVO organised summer camps that were enjoyed by over 700 children in this year’s Haiti project. The exercise and activities enjoyed by the children is just one effect on the local community. According to O’Connor, enrolment in the schools in question has “shot up since [UCDVO] started the summer camps” as parents and children alike begin to see “the value of education”. It is this vision and desire to look beyond the obvious benefits that characterises UCDVO’s work in the developing world. First year medicine student and volunteer in Nicaragua this
year, Nick Power, was involved in a number of projects including the building of a classroom for an agricultural training centre – a high pressure job that ran right to the very last minute and involved days of back-to-back labour. He described himself as being “burned out” and having “knots in [his] back” by the end of the project. However, when possible, volunteers are afforded a chance to rest. Many volunteers use this opportunity to visit local towns, thereby contributing to the local economy. According to O’Connor, such “exposure to other ways of life [is] really important for the experience of the volunteer”. Fundraising is a huge part of the UCDVO agenda. Volunteers are each required to raise €2,250 before they can travel. €1,750 of this covers their costs and the additional €500 is injected directly
into the year’s projects. Over the years, the volunteers have been forced to dream up more and more innovative ways of fundraising. O’Connor cites the fact that “fundraising for charity is becoming quite commonplace in Ireland” as a reason for this. And despite the economic downturn, 2010 was one of their most successful years of fundraising to date. UCDVO Day and Rás UCD were both great successes in the past year. There is also an emphasis on corporate sponsorship. Corporate matching schemes, where employees raise an amount of money and their employer matches that amount, have been a very successful method of fundraising in recent times. Some are of the opinion that money raised should not be spent on the expenses of the volunteers and should be sent directly to those already working on the ground. According to O’Connor, such donations may not have been generated unless volunteers were travelling on these projects. Interestingly, in the eighteen month period leading up to September 2008, of the €631,450 raised by UCDVO over 90% was spent directly on overseas projects. This is further evidence that expenses are kept to a minimum. While demand continues to rise, UCDVO adopt a sensible, controlled approach to expansion. Last year, there were 310 applicants for 100 places. However, the focus is on the sustainability of current projects and at present, there are no plans to add further projects. Applications for projects in 2011 open on September 27th and will remain open until October 11th. UCDVO will have a stand at this week’s Fresher’s Tent and welcome visitors to their office next to Nine One One in the James Joyce Library Building. Further information can be found at www. ucdvo.org.
Postcards from Abroad T
In the first of our columns from students abroad, Matt Gregg discovers that from cuisine to accommodation, he has a lot more to learn in Lyon than just French
ypical French. On the day I arrive, the country’s on strike. Although technically within walking distance, it’s still necessary to get a taxi up the steep ascent to the Andre Allix residence. This is only the start of getting a room. What follows is an hour-long ordeal of paperwork, payment and passport photos. Pedantic precision and a fastidious attention to minute details give the French a well-earned reputation for bureaucracy. Apparently, this doesn’t leave much time for efficiency because no one behind the desk knows when the internet or the gym will be available. Like much of Lyon, Andre Allix is a wondrous mishmash of old and new. The aqueduct built in Roman times still runs through parts of the grounds while the residence is encircled by the skeleton of the old fort at Saint Irénée, with the old gatehouse
serving as the new reception. In stark contrast, the dormitories are high rise blocks of concrete that make UCD’s communist-esque concourse look vibrant. The room appears bigger than expected and, barring the waferthin mattress, it actually appears comfortable enough. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the communal facilities. The toilets are only sporadically equipped with seats and quite simply, there are no sinks. There is one kitchen shared between twenty-eight rooms. Said kitchen consists of two hot plates and one microwave. It’s not hard to see why French student accommodation has such a poor reputation. Honestly, a sleeping bag and the fresh air of a park bench are beginning to look attractive. A quick wander down the street shows that, despite a strike being called, some public transport seems to be running. After a pro-
longed abuse of a cafe’s free Wi-Fi, there is still no word from my coordinator, Mr Villemont. Maybe he’s striking too? No matter, it’s time for lunch. It’ll be my first experience of CROUS (a group that provides meals for students) and I’m kind of nervous. If the food is bearable, I may not need to move out after all. It’s not quite what I’d expected when I’d heard Lyon was the ‘Gourmet Capital of France’ but the student food was excellent. I slap down three euro and get a veritable feast. With a choice of meats and vegetables, I opt for the (mainly beef ) burger and comically oversized carrots. My gut tells me it’s too soon to take a risk on the fish and reddish purée that the woman assures me is “celery based”. With chips, salad and a yogurt thrown in, three euro goes a long way. If only I could say the same of UCD. With nothing open until the
With chips, salad and a yogurt thrown in, three euro goes a long way. If only I could say the same of UCD
next morning, it’s a night of wandering the corridors banging on rooms until a session is found. Four bottles of wine and (bizarrely) a loaf of homemade bread, provide the backdrop to a pleasant evening. On said evening, I learn that in Canada, chatting up a girl is apparently called “wheeling”. Surprisingly, dusty doesn’t mean dry. Dusty means messy. But messy still means out-of-control drunk. Silly Canadians. Amongst my new friends I can count nearly every nationality under the sun, bar the French. I’ve learnt that in the Czech Republic, jaywalking is illegal. In Holland, it’s considered rude to do the host’s washing up. An American with a pint in him is incredibly obnoxious. Although all very interesting, I can’t quite escape the feeling I’m missing the point of a year in Lyon. If I am here to learn French, finding a Frenchman might be a good start.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
J1 on the Emerald Isle As the new semester brings students back to Belfield, Sarah Doran investigates if a summer a little closer to the M1 can compete with a summer on a J1
inding an empty couch in UCD during the first week of the semester is impossible. Conversation flows as rapidly as the coffee; eager ears await snippets of summer scandal. Oisinn’s J1 jaunt to Boston remains blurry, but still he and the boys had the “bant”. Shona and the girls gush about their amazing time in San Francisco. Of course not everyone has a summer that reaches the standards of that now notorious “Gap Yah”. For those who stayed in Ireland there’s generally a half-hearted enquiry; “so you stayed at home this summer?” But do you need to go on a J1 to escape boredom? Can you not spend an equally enjoyable summer on the Emerald Isle? Commerce student Orla Mullins tested that theory, trading Belfield for Inisboffin this summer. It was there that she claims she experienced the “work hard, play hard mentality” at its purest. “Every other night there was something going on,” Mullins reminisces, “and it made no difference if you went to the pub after only finishing work at one in the morning.” Concerts in tiny laid back venues made every gig “a session with the musicians”. Her Inisboffin summer was far from bor-
Many students are now choosing to save money in Ireland over going on a J1.
ing: it was akin to “an extended chilled out festival”. “Besides,” she smiles, “where other than Ireland would I have sunburn and a cold in the same week?” Third year Arts student Ethan Kiernan did head stateside, but he doesn’t believe his J1 was as exciting as others may have found their’s. Having spent four months in New York, he describes his J1 as “short” but “definitely long enough to give you a real taste of what life is like”. A steady job and accommodation with family assured him a secure summer. However, his experience also had its downsides. Kiernan found it tough going anywhere at night, deeming the experience “nerve-wracking”, thanks to some menacing subway stations. Making new friends wasn’t that easy for him, as he found most New
Yorkers to be of two extremes: they were either “super friendly or super ignorant”. Kiernan stresses that his J1 summer was enjoyable, but for him “it just wasn’t the same” as a summer at home. For Arts student Emma Alken, “a summer spent in the place you call home will never be the most exciting experience”. However, she suspects that it also “depends on your mindset”. Alken maintains that “if you don’t make the effort to find things to do, then you should expect boredom”. The Taste of Dublin Food Festival and Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures were two of the distractions she enjoyed. Yet she still feels that her summer “doesn’t compare” to that of her friends who travelled Thailand. However, Alken says she can identify
one advantage to staying at home; a steady and admittedly unglamorous summer job selling fish has secured her savings for next year. Indeed those all-important summer savings can prove pivotal. Everyone wants to secure ample funds, and not just for an unforgettable Freshers’ Week. For many, it seems the choice between the J1 and Irish summer depends on balancing financial stability and life experience. Kiernan found a job instantly and had no problems with accommodation, but not everyone who heads abroad on a J1 is as fortunate. For many, it can become an expensive extended holiday. Final year student Conor Sharkey firmly believes that had he gone on a J1, he would “be broke going back to college”. That isn’t all that concerns him. “I
would have had to watch the World Cup with a bunch of Yanks,” he adds dryly. So can the Irish summer compete with the J1? For Alken it can’t. She believes that going abroad would have made for a more exciting summer “but it simply wasn’t feasible”. Mullins, on the other hand, seems to truly treasure her Irish summer. “If I’d done a J1,” she muses, “I wouldn’t have the savings I do now, wouldn’t have the same mates and wouldn’t have had the irreparable liver damage.” Kiernan relished his J1, but also believes that it was the time abroad that helped him realise how much he loves home. Though doubtless it will never be the same as an American adventure, it seems that for some an Irish summer isn’t so lacklustre.
Home-brewing up a storm
As the recession still manages to tickle our back pockets, Gavan Reilly takes it upon himself to find a cheap alternative for thirsty students
ello, Freshers (and everyone else). You’ve probably already heard that college is going to be amazing a few hundred times now, but it’s true. For the majority of you, for better or worse, alcohol is likely to play a significant part of your UCD experience. This can be a damn expensive habit. You may well already be sick of various societies offering you the Best Fresher’s Night Out Of Your Life This Week™, but overdoing it can leave your head pretty sore, and your wallet pretty empty. Sure, it’s all well and good going a bit wild after you get your latest grant instalment – what else would you be using the government’s money for? Bailing out some bank or other? – but realistically at some point you’re going to find yourself a little short on cash and you’ll have to skimp on a couple of meals. Which is, most distinctly, un-fun. This is why it’s worth investigating the alternatives to your traditional beers. And the alternatives, surprisingly enough, aren’t all that diabolical. It might not have crossed your mind, but it’s worth considering investing in a homebrewing kit. There are a few reasons why: it’s cheap, not at all complicated, a bit fun, and (best of all) because it’s all naturally manufactured, you don’t get hangovers. Let me repeat. You don’t. Get. Hangovers. The price of home-brewing kits might not make the first batch of drinks a whole lot cheaper than your average stack of pints – this writer’s preferred kit of choice, the quite popular and nicely-packaged iBrew, costs about €80 for the first forty pints, working out at about €4 per pint. That
said, once you own the kit – as in, the actual hardware – it’s cheap enough to buy the ingredients for the drinks again afterwards, so at the very least it’s an experiment that’ll pay for itself. Of course, there will always be a few things to be wary of when you’re trying to knock together your own beer: there’s every chance, if you don’t pay careful attention, that you’ll end up concocting massive vats of barely-potable putrid goo that you’d rather use to clean a farmer’s yard than put inside your not-quite-yet-ravaged-by-toomany-Pot-Noodles body. And there is, also, the outside shot that your beer simply won’t taste very nice. Both of these problems can be easily taken care of, however, if you just pay close attention to the instructions. To be complementary (and totally fair) to iBrew, the procedure is almost entirely foolproof as long as you are consistent with what you’re being asked to do. Firstly, the iBrew kit doesn’t require you to dedicate your bathtub or kitchen sink to your project (apologies to those of you seeking the genuine Homer Simpson experience). Rather, the container that the whole package comes in is the vat, which you’ll ultimately be allowing your brew to stew and ferment in. And, thankfully, that’s made an entirely safe procedure by iBrew’s lovely (and probably legally required) decision to include some steriliser in the kit, so that what could easily turn grubby is left all spick, span and fit to brew some goo. And goo is exactly what your beer (or ale, or indeed stout, depending on which kit you opt for) will start out as. The whole procedure works as follows:
once you have your tub cleaned out and sterilised, you’ll dilute the concentrated… well, beer goo, add some yeast - also supplied – and leave to stew for a fortnight. Then you just put the slop (sorry to use such unglamorous terminology, but it really is little more than a watery, aromatic slop by this point) into two 10-pint bottles, leave in the fridge to chill while it finishes fermenting, and a week later your brew is ready to tap. They say that vegetables taste better if you’ve grown them in your own patch rather than buying them in a regular old supermarket because they come infused with the satisfaction of having cultivated them by your own hand. There’s a similar feeling when you first taste your own beer: it isn’t, truth be told, going to be as clear or as naturally drinkable as your average bottled beer. But a few gulps in there is a nice flavour: not overwhelming, but not in the least bit stomach-turning either. Pure beery goodness, made by your very own hands. And the best part? Well, if you’ve ever tried German beers brewed under the country’s ancient purity laws, decreeing that only four natural ingredients (barley, hops, yeast and water) can be used in brewing, you’ll know that after a night on them, you’ll feel particularly fresh. Aside from the dehydration element, a hangover originates from the agents used to extend the shelf-life of your drink. A night on your own brew, though, and you’ll be right as rain the following morning – ready to spend the extra cash you’ve saved yourself by making your own. iBrew kits can be ordered online from www. iBrew.co.uk.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
Great Expectations While investigating graduate job opportunities Natalie Voorheis questions whether the Celtic Tiger’s kittens are victims or just lazy
and I subsequently arranged a number of meetings at target companies.” While services remain available, it is clear that an undergraduate degree is no longer an automatic pass to a job or a career. Most employers look for ever-increasing levels of education, extra-curricular skills and interview and application perfection from their prospective employees. Many students are therefore choosing to stay in education as long as possible rather than brave the job market. However, post-graduate study can be grueling work and a weighty financial strain on students. A generation of Celtic tiger cubs, now at university level having had their first degree largely subsidised by the state, are faltering at the first signs of difficulty in gaining employment. Having such top quality education handed to us has created a portion of graduates with no fire in their belly. Modern students never had to exercise complete determination - they are unable to muster it in the race to seek out employment in the hard economic times. Instead, they simply stretch out a hand to the state and sign on to the dole, declaring themselves unemployable before a fight for employment had ever really begun. There is no doubt that the Irish media has taken hold of the recent economic down-
R LFA WE
hat will my job prospects be after graduation? Where is my degree taking me? How do I begin preparing for interviews? How do I map a career plan? These are the kind of questions that cross every student’s mind at some point or another. However, during a period of economic uncertainty, it is imperative that students stop procrastinating on Facebook and prepare for the future in order to secure employment upon graduation. On the right hand side of the campus bookshop is an insignificant looking section of the building one might easily rush past and completely miss in the general bustle of daily student life. This building is home to the UCD’s Career Development Centre. The centre is little known among the general student body and is something of a hidden facet of on-campus life. The Careers Development Centre aims to give students an edge in the job-seeking world, to equip them with the skills and knowledge that will see them employed. In an economic climate of uncertainty, where unemployment rates nationwide are extremely high, our generation of graduates must have something more than a BA in this or a Masters degree in that. We must have clear goals and aspirations, instead of expecting to walk into work straight after college. We must be ambitious, organised and motivated and be job ready with skills of self-promotion and a shrewd knowledge of employment application and interview techniques - a tall order to say the least. The University Observer spoke to Director of the UCD Career Development Centre, Dr David Foster, who outlined the three areas that the centre focuses on in their work in helping graduates make the transition into employment. The first of these areas is to focus a student’s engagement while they’re still in college in order to make sure that they are attractive to potential employers. Dr Foster described employers in a competitive job market as “looking to recruit students who have made a difference,” i.e. been involved in societies, sports, volunteering and part-time work right from the start of first year. The second is facilitating the enhanced employability of graduates. Dr Foster told The University Observer that “employers recruit students with the right blend of education, skills and experience. Our programmes of careers education, skills workshops and advice sessions help students recognise skills already developed, plug any skill-gaps they may have and understand how their skills are applied in their target workplace.” Lastly, the centre aids the effective transition from student to employee through training and guidance on making effective applications, developing effective interview techniques and advice on assessment centre tasks and activities. Dr Foster identifies one area in particular as being a weakness in graduate job searching techniques. “I think many students are
not aware of the ‘hidden job market’ and the importance of making strong speculative approaches [to employers].” Dr Foster went on to explain how the UCD Career Development Centre can help students specifically target this: “We can help students identify potential employers and advise on producing a strong CV whenever a specific job has not been advertised.” We have all heard the horror stories involving college graduates unable to find employment in their chosen field and equally unable to gain even a non-contract job with McDonalds or Burger King, but how real is this concern? Dr Foster addressed this saying, “Some students seem to feel that there is no point in applying for jobs given the climate. But, students and graduates are getting graduate jobs and persistence pays dividends.” Dr Foster supported his argument with reference to the First Destinations Research survey (FDR), which is carried out on UCD graduates every year, nine months after they complete undergraduate study. The FDR for graduates of 2009 - which is based upon the known destinations for 75.6% of all UCD graduates - showed 56% to be in employment, 30% to be in further study and 5% to be not available for work e.g. travelling. Interestingly this leaves only 9% unemployed or seeking work. Furthermore, according to the FDR surveys, unemployment rates are down 2.6% in 2009 compared to 2008 where they were at 11.6%. Despite Dr. Foster’s positivity, the same cannot be said for the entire student body. The University Observer spoke to Seán Ó Bhróin, who, having just completed a BA in Philosophy and Film Studies, has decided to continue on to Masters level. “I stayed in college because I don’t really have any other option,” says Ó Bhróin. “There are very few jobs going in my sector, so my only option is to keep educating myself until either the recession ends or I become even remotely employable.” Similarly, Rosa Dempsey, currently in her 3rd year of a Psychology degree, spoke about her thoughts for the future. “I find the prospect of leaving college and looking for employment in a recession very daunting.” “I think for me emigration will be a definite consideration, probably to Canada. Although this wouldn’t have been my first choice in a better economic climate, emigration isn’t totally a negative thing in my view. The prospects of a fresh start and the life skills to be gained from living so far away are very appealing to me.” Many disillusioned students have grumbled about UCD’s commitment to their best interests regarding preparing them for the job world. One naturally turns to the body providing career support in UCD, the Career Development Centre, to assess the validity of this. The centre is however, a powerful tool for students to utilise. It provides countless different services, free of charge, for both undergraduates and graduates. The staff are friendly and informative, and their website is functional, up to date and easy to use. Furthermore, the centre has begun this academic year with a staff increase and is working to improve the layout of its premises. So why do student opinions, as regards the services provided by UCD in this regard and the services actually available, differ so drastically? It is clear that UCD’s downfall here is not in the quality of the service provided, which must be admitted to be of a very good standard, but in the advertisement of the availability of this service. UCD seem to have fallen short in their outreach attempts to the general student body, in simply letting them know that the centre exists. The Career Development Centre are proud of the level of service which they provide to the student body and have received regular positive feedback. One UCD Law graduate recently wrote on a feedback form: “The first interesting and helpful advice I got was to make contact with potential employers
Is it time for the spoiled Celtic Tiger cubs to be more proactive about finding work? UCD Careers Office is on hand to give students advice.
turn and turned the recession into a caricature of itself. The sensationalist writing regarding the economy and the brimstone and hellfire attitude adopted by numerous columnists regarding it have taken a toll on the student population, causing an air of disillusionment that isn’t entirely routed in fact. The mantra that there aren’t any jobs out there because of the recession has become somewhat of a safety net for students who too often use it as an excuse that validates a search of short duration and little con-
viction for employment. Those students willing to cater to a demanding and competitive job market in order to succeed, are gaining employment, as testified by last year’s FDR survey. It’s easy to sit over a cup of tea whilst bemoaning the state of the nation. But it pays to get up, get out and just go. A country will always need doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers etc. We’ve mourned the Celtic Tiger era, but employment is out there. So you have to fight for your job? Big deal! May the best graduate win!
LOOKING FOR DISCOUNTS ???
1) Emergency Dentists Discount is now available. Great Student Discount on fillings, extractions and wisdom teeth assessments. Phone 01-2692932 and you have to present a UCD Student card.
2) 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 email@example.com or ring 087-6657126 Don't forget to watch out for the Drink Sensible Vinyls in the bathrooms in the Student Bar and look after yourself this Freshers' week. Drink plenty of Water!
TT SCO r in O T ffice P IN
r eO elfar centre o W r t u n o at tude the s ntact him u.ie, co cds re@u 112 a f l e w 63 0171
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
Enforcing a fairer playing field Sinéad O’Brien argues that gender quotas are a necessary means towards altering inequality in a male-dominated society
he proposals set out in Labour Senator Ivana Bacik’s report for a sub-committee of the Joint Oireachtas Justice Committee on women’s participation in politics came as a shock to many people; especially when reading the words “gender quotas” as part of her recommendations for improving the current situation in Ireland. There are many ideological arguments to be made against the implementation of such gender quotas; these arguments may be based on grounds of democracy, discrimination and of course, feminism. Yet however those opposed base their argument, the fact remains that women’s participation in politics remains pathetically low in Ireland. Only 23 out of the 166 TDs in the Oireachtas are female, and that number will be further reduced by the decision made by Liz McManus and Olwyn Enright to not seek re-election. Women play a vital role in society and they should be represented accordingly. They account for half of the population of Ireland, and yet the proportion of female TDs has never exceeded 14%. There is an argument to be made as to how democratic Ireland truly is when half of its population is so scarcely represented. Ireland has been criticised on numerous occasions by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women regarding this imbalance. In the words of Former Fine Gael TD Gemma Hussey: “Women bring different life experiences, priorities, knowledge and a different style of decisionmaking.” This statement begs the hypothetical question; had there been a higher proportion of women in politics,
Olwyn Enright TD recently announced she would not seek re-election due to family commitments.
would so much of our country’s finances have been exhausted on as sickly and corrupt a financial institution as Anglo Irish Bank? While women can make a hugely positive contribution to modern day politics, there remain many obstacles blocking their entry into the political arena. International research on the challenges women face on entering politics can, as they were in Senator Bacik’s report, be summed up in the ‘five Cs’; Childcare, Cash, Confidence, Culture and Candidate Selection Procedures. The report offers proposals to tackle each of these five issues, however the gender quotas are a direct response to the problems faced in ‘Candidate Selection Procedures’. The greatest and most obvious impediment that women face upon entering politics is the candidate selection procedure within their own political party. Due to conservative and traditional ste-
reotypes and a patriarchal political culture, many suitably competent female candidates are overlooked by their predominantly male counterparts in favour of other men within the party. Many women also lack the funding to be able to embark on a political campaign, and are therefore deterred from putting themselves forward for nomination. By enforcing gender quotas on political parties, the financial obstacles that some women face when it comes to funding a campaign would be substantially diminished. In facing a penalty for not having nominated the requisite number of women, the political parties would have to make it their business to help out a woman who is unable to afford a campaign. Inevitably, critics of gender quotas will argue that women should be able to compete against other men in their party for nominations based upon personal merit and professional competence.
However, nine out of the 23 women who currently sit as TDs in the Oireachtas hail from political dynasties or have some familial link to politics. The women in question are Mary Hanafin, Mary Coughlan, Áine Brady, Mary O’Rourke, Olwyn Enright, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Beverly Flynn and Deirdre Clune, whose connections can only have helped them when vying for a nomination in the candidate selection process. This means that 39% of female representatives in the Oireachtas are “piggy-backing”, to some extent, on the reputations of their forefathers. By introducing gender quotas, women of a higher grade of intellect and merit would be encouraged to put themselves forward for candidacy. They would not have to worry about having any particular connections, and the overall quality of female candidate would thus be improved. The idea of enforcing gender quotas in politics is not innova-
tive, nor is it exclusive to Ireland. It has been tried and tested throughout European countries, with Spain, France, Belgium and Portugal implementing mandatory measures with satisfying results. Beverly Flynn surmised that “in an ideal world [I] wouldn’t agree” to the idea of gender quotas in politics. But alas, we do not live in an ideal world, and there do come times when it is necessary to intervene in order to correct imbalances. Irish women were granted suffrage in 1918. Ninety-two years on, women are still not proportionately represented in politics. Gender quotas can be used to break down the male-dominated political culture that is alive in Ireland and establish a more representative democracy that accommodates us all. And once such a gender balanced democracy is finally established, the people of Ireland will reap the rewards.
A Sexist Measure Matthew Jones feels that gender quotas would ultimately serve to undermine the sexual equality movement
he issue of gender quotas is not a new one. Quotas for ethnic minorities and for females in the workplace already exist in many companies, most notably in the
BBC. Recently however, there has been a surge in demand for gender quotas to be introduced in politics, regardless of the effect that this would have on Irish democracy. Olwyn Enright TD, who represents Fine Gael in the Dáil, recently announced that she would be retiring from politics at the next general election. With her second child on the way, she cited family commitments as her primary reason for retiring. Ms Enright’s announcement has heightened a sense of outrage felt by many about the disparate numbers of men and women making up the elected representatives in the Dáil. Numerous claims have been made that the Dáil is unfair in its treatment of female representatives with families, despite the inclusion of a crèche in Leinster House. In addition, it has provisions for late sittings, not to mention the €90,000 annual salary, plus expenses, received by sitting members of the Dáil. A survey conducted in August 2010 showed that Ireland is ranked 84th in the world for gender balance in politics. The same survey showed that eight out of the top ten democracies had gender quotas in place to ensure that this balance was maintained. Many proponents of the introduction of such quotas cite these figures as an example that we should be following, but they are missing the massive problems associated with having quotas in place. Gender quotas ensure that specific percent-
“The role of an elected official is to represent, to the best of their abilities, the needs of all their constituents and not just those of a certain gender” ages are met in terms of personnel, but these “percentage women” may not necessarily be the best candidates for the job. At the same time, the government may have to remove a particularly talented local representative just for the sake of making up numbers. Politicians in Ireland are elected based on their proposals, character, and most importantly, their merit. Having people stroll into a position, regardless of their merit, would only be to the detriment of equality movements everywhere. If women were given positions based solely on their gender, then public confidence in our system of govern-
ment would be shaken, and these tokenistic women would receive much of the blame. Fine Gael councillor Tony O’ Donnell remarked in his blog that “we hold free and fair elections in Ireland, where men and women can put their names forward, and men and women get to make their selections”. “My mandate is no less valuable because I am a man, and no legislation should seek to frustrate my ability to represent my constituents on grounds as arbitrary as gender.” Councillor O’ Donnell makes a heartfelt argument that stands out as a voice of reason, pointing out that the option of running for political office is available to everybody. The Labour Party’s Liz McManus is of a firmly opposing opinion. The 63-yearold Wicklow TD recently announced her forthcoming retirement from politics and is “absolutely convinced” that gender quotas should be introduced. She even goes so far as to advocate financial penalties against political parties that do not fall in line with her views. On the night when she announced her retirement, she remarked: “There are eight of them for every one of us.” This backward way of thinking, maintaining that men and women are competing with one another, does not serve Ms McManus’ cause but further alienates it. She is not the only person to hold this view; it has become a popular statement that half the population is under-represented. However,
the role of an elected official is to represent, to the best of their abilities, the needs of all their constituents and not just those of a certain gender. The view that gender quotas are not a viable long term solution is upheld in the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality Defence and Women’s Rights second report on Women’s Participation in Politics. In the report, it is stated that: “The advantage of the mandatory or legislated ‘electoral gender quota’ is that it can be more effective in a shorter timeframe, by ensuring that all parties must comply with the same principles. Whether candidate quotas are adopted on a voluntary or mandatory basis, they are generally only on a temporary basis, with a built-in ‘sunset clause’ providing that they will lapse once certain targets are met.” This shows that the real solution to the imbalance lies in the education of the population, not the elimination of qualified men from politics based on positive discrimination. We need pioneering women to act as role models, who show that the government is not just an ‘old boys club’, but a place for people of all genders, races and creeds to represent their constituencies. The point is that going into politics is, was, and always will be a personal choice. It is up to the individual to make that choice instead of relying on, or being limited by, the imposition of an unfair, undemocratic quota system.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
As it ends, Matthew Judge studies the phenomenon of Big Brother
n the 10th of September 2010, Big Brother closed its watchful eyes and toasted a final chapter in reality television. The remaining fans mourned, realising the prospect of no longer witnessing its diary room dialogues, dramatics or downfalls. Since its initial broadcast in the Netherlands in 1999, Big Brother has had a huge impact on the world we live in and how we interact with reality and celebrity. It has facilitated our curiosity about human relationships, contributed to our obsession with celebrity life and encouraged the deterioration of privacy. On second glance, it seems that the anguish of Big Brother fans is the primary phase of withdrawal for reality television addicts. Originally a social experiment, Big Brother soon transformed into a corporate machine notorious for manufacturing celebrities overnight. From Jade Goody to Chantelle Houghton, television audiences have come to recognise average working-class citizens as national superstars. For ten years, the Big Brother franchise has showcased its contestants, enjoying their fifteen minutes of fame. In modern society, the concept of celebrity is nonsensical. Not so long ago, we adored inspirational figures who contributed to society. Today, we shiver at the thought of another informative speech delivered by Bono or Bob Geldof and instead favour the latest YouTube sensation waiting in the wings of fame. It’s important to note that even though Big Brother was a pedestal for transforming normal people into ‘celebrities’, its failure to protect contestants from excessive exposure to the media was obvious. Take Bart Spring in’t Veld, the first ever winner of the Big Brother franchise. Since being crowned the winner in 1999, Bart had suffered five breakdowns due to his private life being exposed to the media. This brings into question the validity of the rigorous psychological evaluation which contentests are routinely treated to before appearing on the show. In an intimate interview with the Guardian, Bart revealed how he was unprepared for his newfound fame and how he had gambled recklessly with his privacy. In the
Big Brother has changed our concepts of celebrity and destroyed respect for privacy.
interview, he comments on his own participation in promoting the Big Brother franchise. “If I helped to create the mindless monster, I’m not too proud of it; Big Brother took away the need to make inspiring programmes and replaced them with mindless chatter.” Every day we are introduced to potential ‘celebrities’ promoting their latest antics on YouTube, Facebook and MySpace. Two billion videos are viewed each day by YouTube users and five hundred million Facebook users are actively roaming the site. In theory, it is marketing genius. Yet it’s frightening to see the lengths that people will go to in order to be accepted and recognised by their peers. Oftentimes, these celebrity wannabes will allow their fellow YouTube and Facebook colleagues
in-depth access to their private lives. The ideology and cult status of Big Brother has made way for revolutionary social and entertainment networks through which we can communicate with others or just reveal our own personal thoughts to the world. Essentially, it has helped spawn a society in which privacy and achievement is being increasingly devalued. We have come to rely on the efficiency and convenience of sharing information through these social networks. Lost in this necessity to communicate, social network users often forget the benefits of anonymity and get trapped into releasing details about their personal lives, friends and social activities without prior contemplation. If Big Brother was a corporate machine that
created celebrities overnight and laid the foundations for privacy-endangered social networks, then we must ask ourselves who drove this machine? The answer is we did. It is in our human nature to be curious and attracted to the drama of human relationships. Voyeurism is a part of our genetic make-up and Big Brother has facilitated this curious nature for over ten years. It’s hard to let go. Similarly, what does this say of the value we put upon geniune talent? Our celebrities are now talentless reality stars, whose private lives and problems we scan fervently. What has happened to the talented film, television and music stars of the past? We have replaced recognition of true talent with the celebration of attention for attention’s sake. However as one door closes, another one
opens. Hit shows like Jersey Shore and The Hills have also captured our attention and promoted the creation of the overnight celebrity. Even through Facebook and YouTube, we are playing out our lives on our very own online reality show to five hundred million viewers. Big Brother has been a key cultural icon for the new millennium. Some mourn its absence and some revel in its departure. It has introduced a level of voyeurism and celebrity obsession in society that has become the norm. It has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows, from a revolutionary beginning to a weary end. However, due to this cultural monster, you can be assured that there is always someone watching.
Making a Twitter of Yourself Hungover leader or overexcited media? Eoin Brady examines the reasoning behind the intense scrutiny of Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s recent interview.
istening back to the now-infamous Morning Ireland interview, from the moment Cathal Mac Coille greets Brian Cowen with “thank you for coming over before your breakfast”, it is obvious that Mr Cowen should not have gone on air. “Irish premier denies being drunk, hungover on air” – as reported by The Associated Press – is a story that has been covered in over 450 articles worldwide, including in influential media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Guardian. The indirect phrasing used in that title – Mr Cowen’s denial of being under the influence, rather than his actually being under the influence – demonstrates how the story emerged and developed. This is a story not about what Mr Cowen actually said or did in his interview – the interview itself is by no means outrageous. Rather, it is about the way the events of the morning (and the preceding night) were handled by Mr Cowen, commentators and other politicians afterwards. The responses Mr Cowen gave during the Morning Ireland interview were vague,
equivocal and somewhat incoherent. He did not give straight answers to pertinent questions, including one about the suggestion that next year’s budget cuts could be €4bn, instead of the previously mooted €3bn. While this is an integral issue for the recovery of the Irish economy, and Mr Cowen’s answer will have further perturbed already jittery bond markets, he would have not given a straight answer after eight hours’ sleep, a brisk walk and a bowl of porridge. The content of his interview was conventional and unremarkable. There would have been no story here, were it not for two things: firstly, that it is known that Mr Cowen had been drinking and socialising (or becoming a socialist, if Noel Dempsey is to be believed) at 3.30am in the bar of the Ardilaun Hotel in Galway the night before. Secondly, that Fine Gael Transport Spokesperson Simon Coveney tweeted “God, what an uninspiring interview by Taoiseach this morning. He sounded halfway between drunk and hungover and totally disinterested.” Mr Coveney probably did not intend
to accuse Mr Cowen of being inebriated, but other than that, what he said was clear. Although Mr Coveney was just one of a number of people making the point on Twitter, his position on the opposition front bench lent the story an air of legitimacy. From there, the story exploded, or blossomed, depending on one’s perspective on the matter. This is not the first time that Twitter has influenced Irish politics: this event was preceded by Green Party Leader Senator Dan Boyle’s 140-character statement of no confidence in coalition partner and then Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea. The kind of unfiltered, spontaneous commentary that Twitter seems to trigger in Irish politicians should be welcomed. Without it, we could have seen Mr O’Dea’s alleged perjury and Mr Cowen’s poor preparation be subject to less analysis and discussion than they merited. This unconventional outlet gives politicians a means to act with their hearts, against the status quo. This is also not the first time that an unpopular prime minister has become embroiled in a public relations disaster that was triggered by modern technology. Gordon Brown’s labelling of Gillian Duffy – an elderly lifelong Labour voter – as a “bigot”, after the two shared an apparently pleasant discussion, would not have gone any further than the back seat of his Jaguar, were it not for a misplaced radio microphone. Arguably, Mr Brown’s gaffe was more seri-
Brian Cowen failed to issue a direct apology for his allegedly drunken state during an interview.
ous because it appeared to betray a genuine dislike for one of his party’s core voter demographics, while Mr Cowen’s slip was as a consequence of his gregarious and sociable nature. On the other hand, Mr Cowen perhaps demonstrated an even greater contempt for his public by going ahead with an interview that he must have known would make him appear indifferent to, and lacking in respect for, the 464,000 listeners of Morning Ireland. The similarity between the two men’s responses to their respective furores is notable: Mr Brown’s forlorn head-holding (while unknowingly being filmed by a webcam during a radio interview) added to the negative publicity he received, as did Mr
Cowen’s flippant comment hours after the interview advocating “everything in moderation – including moderation”. While Mr Brown went on to apologise to Ms Duffy in a straightforward manner, Mr Cowen has failed to give a coherent apology: he promised that it “won’t happen again”, admitting to having given what “wasn’t [his] best performance”. However, he has attributed this to the “hoarseness in his voice”. Mr Cowen’s reasoning, a sore throat, will hardly do enough to instil confidence in voters who, already disillusioned with Fianna Fáil, are adding up the reasons that they are unlikely to bring Mr Cowen back as their leader in the next general election.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
Divided We Fall In light of the furore caused by Pastor Terry Jones, Dearbhail O’Crowley examines the increasing chasm which exists between American and Islamic values
stereotyped image of intolerance is familiar to us as. It the racism and hate we saw in Hitler’s SS or the Ku Klux Klan. However, this new brand of intolerance is not so obvious. It is a suit-wearing Christian preacher who believes that constitutional freedoms should not be entitlements for all. He and his ilk hide behind the “My God told me to” banner of incitement of hatred, and demand protection of their own faith, but denounce that of others in a heartbeat. The commemoration of the ninth anniversary of September 11th was unlike those in previous years. For the first time, the day was not just about remembrance, it was politicised too. It would have been natural for this
to occur straight after the tragedy, but to give Bush and his cohorts credit, the Republicans pushed back their conservative norms and repeatedly highlighted the difference between Al Qaeda and Islam to the average American. Leader of the Dove World Outreach Centre, Pastor Terry Jones, received much media attention in the days coming up to the anniversary. He had unveiled plans to burn copies of the Qur’an in a response to plans to build a mosque and Muslim community centre on the site of Ground Zero. While his plans were extremist and ridiculous, the media attention to his cause meant that his message of hate was able to reach all corners of the globe. The United States, or more accurately, the western world, needs strong, steady voices to push back against hatred and irrational fears. The fact that these attacks lie contrary to the values of citizens of a democratic country, particularly a country that was built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance, must be highlighted. The 9/11 anniversary should be an occasion that unites the American people. Now, it seems to be dividing the melting pot of American culture like never before. Five billion people, over eighty percent of the world’s population, claim to subscribe to some tenet of religion, a code of beliefs by which they live their lives. What they call their God, the dogmas of their faith and the history of their beliefs differ worldwide, but every subset ascribes to one basic tenet: the idea of loving thy neighbour. Treat others
as you wish to be treated. Yet this principle seems to have become twisted, warped over time. A necessity only if your neighbour is a reflection of yourself. Westerners have always lauded itself for freedom and equality, particularly in relation to religious tolerance. It’s a concept we strive towards on a daily basis, to protect constitutionally and legislatively. However, it has become acceptable to question who deserves the pro-
“The 9/11 anniversary should be an occasion that unites the American people. Now, it seems to be dividing the melting pot of American culture like never before.” tections we put in place. We now seem to believe that concepts such as equality, religious tolerance and free speech should be reserved for those who epitomise our cultural view and societal norms.
Pastor Terry Jones’ Islamophobic views encourage religious intolerance and hatred toward non-extremist Muslims.
The people using banner of new wave discrimination use religion as their propagandist tool of hatred. They expect religious tolerance and protection of their own faith, yet demand exclusion of others on the same grounds. Why is it acceptable to use the framework of belief in a higher order to undermine someone else’s? Why is it that unity and acceptance have to come from the exclusion of others? The answer is quite simple: they don’t. Yet many prominent American commentators question whether Muslims should be afforded the same constitutional freedoms as everyone else. What is the root of all this? The Christian right. Faith is turning the legislature
against itself, and in the process losing what it means to have faith to begin with. Muslims have become a target for the religious right and are stigmatised, generalised and presented as a threat to society. Is it possible to imagine the same type of casual racism being aimed at African Americans or Jews? How do America’s almost seven million Muslims feel when their faith is denounced as barbaric? The source of the problem lies in the war waged by the fundamentalist Christian right against the Islamic movement. It is clear that it is time for our acceptance of this movement to stop. This is one of those moments that tests our moral cores. We must not react in an overtly prejudiced man-
ner as was seen when JapaneseAmericans were interned during World War II, or when countries around the world refused to accept Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe. Our actions will define how we, as a generation, are remembered. To quote the eternal wisdom of The West Wing: “Radical Islamic fundamentalists are to Islam as the KKK are to Christianity”. This comparison makes an important differentiation. For now the question remains: is the new wave of religious intolerance accepted simply because the actions of its leaders vocalise our inner fears? We’re worth more than that. So are our ideals.
The Troubles Revisited? N
Kate Rothwell looks at the increasing threat posed by the recent outbreaks of violence in the North
orthern Ireland’s past has been coloured by troubled years and triumphant occasions, and while the latter had been the mainstay of recent times, the ugly head of violent incidents is yet again raising its head. The last month alone has seen paramilitary-style shooting, pipe-bomb attacks and the discovery of explosive devices planted next to primary schools hit the headlines. Eight-year-old Brendan Shannon, a pupil at Comgall’s Catholic Primary School in Antrim, found a viable pipe bomb in the school playground and brought it to a teacher. The school was evacuated and the bomb was defused without any injuries, but the potential consequences of this incident are something that no parent, teacher or even child involved will be able to forget. The Northern Irish tourist industry has had to deal with the country’s war-torn image for many years. Even in the years after the Troubles, many Irish people who have travelled abroad will be familiar with being asked about ‘the war in Ireland’. While there is no official date for the end of the Troubles, many consider the 1998 Good Friday Agreement to be the period’s conclusion. A violent reputation is hard to shake, and just when Northern Ireland’s touristic attractions had started to be appreciated in their own right, their recognition has been
marching season. Just last week it came to light that 15 people were injured in a hit-and-run accident on the night of the 11th July, when a man accelerated his car after it had been surrounded by a group of men shouting sectarian abuse. The driver of this car was 29, but photos and video footage of the rioting on and after the 12th July clearly showed that a number of those involved were teenagers. The
Sectarian violence may once again ruin Northern Ireland’s reputation in the international community.
marred by a travel warning issued by the Australian government. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs warned that “incidents of sectarian violence and dissident activity have escalated during 2009 and 2010”, and advised visitors to avoid the annual parades that take place from April to August, as they “may turn violent with little warning”. The United States and New Zealand governments also warn against the danger of attending these parades, with the U.S. cautioning against “sporadic incidents of street violence and/or sectarian confrontation” even outside of the marching season. Tourist industries worldwide have felt the effect of the economic downturn, and the Northern Irish tourist industry is no different; suffering a 22% decrease in overseas
tourist receipts and a 16% decrease in overseas visitors in 2009. Regardless of the amount of ‘staycations’ there may have been, it has not compensated for the decrease in capital usually brought in by foreign tourists. With this difficult economic setting in mind, the Australian government’s decision has fallen at a cruel and crucial time. The move was described as “somewhat of an overreaction” by Social, Democratic and Labour Party assembly member Margaret Ritchie, but the question still stands as to whether or not this is true. After all, these marches can hardly be described as family-friendly events when the 12th July march this year was followed by three nights of violence. Numerous police officers were injured and over 70 people have been arrested in relation to disturbances during the
“Should such attacks continue to increase, then the country’s reputation as a war-torn state will return” involvement of children in violent activity was brought to a shocking new level a few weeks ago when an 11-year-old boy was charged with riotous assembly and possession of an offensive weapon in Belfast. Northern Secretary Owen Paterson has warned that if politicians in Northern Ireland do not come up with a new system for making decisions regarding the yearly parades soon, i.e. replace the current
Parades Commission, then the British government will appoint a new commission. The Independent Monitoring Commission reported in November 2009 that dissident republican activity was at its highest in over five years, and now nine months later, the Police Federation has called for an extra 1,000 police in order to combat such violence, and MI5 have warned that the threat posed by dissident republican groups may stretch to Great Britain. The hopeful news that a number of parades at the end of the marching season took place without any violent incidents has been severely tainted by these recent announcements. Northern Ireland’s progressive historic events are to be lauded; the Peace Process has led to groundbreaking historic events such as the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 and the Provisional IRA’s announcement in 2005 that it was decommissioning all of its weapons. Be this as it may, it cannot be denied that the number of violent dissident incidents has risen over the last couple of months. Although this may be to the disgust of the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland, the fact is that should such attacks continue to increase, then the country’s reputation as a war-torn state will return.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
SCIENCE & HEALTH
The Science of Sleep Caitríona Farrell delves into the theory behind sleep, exploring slumber patterns ranging from bats to giraffes
s Homer once put it, “there is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep”. This Ancient Greek poet was evidently capable of striking a healthy balance between constructing his fine literary masterpieces and availing of sufficient time for sleep, or at least he preached this notion. For many it is not as easy as timetabling the perfect eight hours of sleep into a busy day. We live in a hectic society. Our sleeping patterns over the course of a week, for example, could be a concoction of early nights and early mornings. With most animals’ average sleeping hours ranging from under 2 hours to 20 hours, it is evident that it is not only humans who can have strange sleeping habits. It is clear that different biological and behavioural make-ups, as well as environmental factors, determine how many hours an organism will sleep on a regular day. Our average sleeping hours range from five and a half to sixteen hours on a daily basis. An infant requires approximately sixteen hours sleep and an elderly person should spend roughly a quarter of their day in bed. On average, an adult human is recommended to get eight hours sleep a night. While humans are lucky enough to be able to get eight hours in a comfortable bed every night, spare a thought for the poor giraffe. Giraffes sleep in or around two hours a day. Your typical giraffe engages in about five three-to-five minute intervals of deep sleep a day. A struggle for this rather awkward, lanky animal is positioning itself in such a way that it is comfortable to sleep. Furthermore, it is not unusual to stumble across a giraffe asleep while standing on
all fours. The lowering of its neck and tail along with its weary eyelids drooping, signals the beginning of the giraffe’s heavy yet short-lived nap. On other occasions, the giraffe will bend its legs and lie down before falling asleep. It maintains holding its neck up straight, or rests it upon the branch of a tree or on its hip. In addition, while in a herd, one member of the group stays awake to be on the lookout and misses out on that crucial five minute sleeping slot in the day. While a giraffe savours every minute of its average two hours sleep a day, the other extreme is the brown bat which sleeps roughly 19.9 hours a day. Where pets are concerned, there is a stark difference between having a hamster as a domestic animal and having a dog. Guinea pigs and hamsters will sleep more than
“while a giraffe savours every minute of its average two hours sleep a day, the other extreme is the brown bat which sleeps roughly 19.9 hours a day”
According to statistics, the average can sleep for up to twelve hours a day.
half a day, along with cats and mice, while a dog will sleep roughly ten hours on average. Sleep really is one of the nuts and bolts parts of the mechanism that is the biological clock. When your body clock winds down, it most certainly is time for sleep. Sleep is a natural thing. We cannot escape it, no matter how busy our schedules are. Our bodies are drastically affected when we don’t sleep, with side effects including lack of focus, mood swings and hallucinations. Scientists are not sure why we need sleep, but research into a condition called Fatal Familial Insomnia is ongoing. The disease,
which is genetic and affects around 40 families worldwide. Between the ages of 30 and 50, sufferers find themselves suddenly unable to sleep. They die around a year later, having suffered hallucinations, dementia and rapid weight loss. Pretty gruesome, but proof that sleep is essential to a healthy body and mind. However, if you want to be contrary, you could adhere to the opinion of Benjamin Franklin, who said “there will be enough sleeping in the grave”, and be totally consumed by all that life has got to offer, accomplish as much as you are physically able to, and soak up every experience coming your way.
Animal Behaviour Compared to a human’s need for eight hours a night, other mammals need varying amounts of sleep. • Pigs roughly spend the same amount of hours as the typical human, namely eight hours sleep per day. • Horses and donkeys sleep about three hours a day. • Cows and sheep sleep 4 hours a day approximately. • Goats follow that with 5 hours sleep daily.
Zombie Science – The Gory Truth Ekaterina Tikhoniouk
lmost everyone, young or old, is familiar with the myth of zombies. According to legend, zombies are the living dead, soulless bodies that come from beyond the grave to walk the earth again, devoid of will or emotion and seeking to consume the coagulating flesh of live humans. The origins of these brain-hungry monsters lie in seventeenth-century African folklore. Voodooo curses, bokors and zombification are especially common in Haitian stories and tradition. The word “zombie” comes from the Haitian word “zombi” meaning “spirit of the dead”. In western society, zombie culture has also enjoyed great popularity. Our cinemas are flooded with the undead. Ever since the release of the first true cult zombie film in 1968, George A. Romero’s influential Night of the Living Dead, zombies captured the imagination of generations. Now we watch as Romero’s legacy has led us to a remake of Dawn of the Dead, as well as zom-
The myth of zombies originates from Haiti and not London as Shaun of the Dead may have you believe.
bie inspired films such as 28 Days Later, REC and the Resident Evil series. Zombies have even been made comedic by Shaun of the Dead and we’ve seen them invade the Big Brother house in Charlie Brooker’s hit series Dead Set. But is there an iota of science behind this popular myth? Are we fools to eat up the zombie entertainment on show to us without seriously considering the grains of truth behind the myth? Some researchers say yes. Of course, in the real world, the idea of a virus with the ability of bringing about a zombie apocalypse is ludicrous, but some details of the common myths ring true. While mutant strains of an evil corporation’s super-virus are unlikely to cause an apocalypse, the myths be-
hind zombies are actually very interesting. To take an example – the scene we all know well, and which is included in almost every zombie film ever made – the reanimation. The likes of Resident Evil, Dellamorte Dellamore, and even Michael Jackson’s music video “Thriller” all contain the fictional image of a rotting hand shooting out of the earth, as a moaning corpse drags itself out of its own grave, coming back to life. But for a small number of people, the experience of rising from the dead is horrifyingly real. Severe narcoleptic-cataplexy is a condition that can paralyse the body, giving the appearance of death. And there is shocking documentation of sufferers “coming back to life” in the morgue or funeral home, after being officially
pronounced dead. But this effect of reanimation is not solely reliant on an inherent medical condition, but can also be induced artificially. Haiti’s culture has a long history of zombification. Its Voodoo sorcerers, or bokors, claim to have been creating “zombies” for generations; docile slaves risen from the grave that act on the sorcerer’s every whim. But can a person really return from the dead as a zombie? Haitian landowner Clarvius Narcisse claims he did. Nearly twenty years after his funeral, he reappeared in his village, very much alive. He believed that a bokor had resurrected him and turned him into a zombie. Since the regional hospital had documented Narcisse’s illness and subsequent death, scientists viewed him as potential proof for Haitian zombies. Narcissse answered questions about his family and childhood that not even a close friend could have known. Eventually, family and observers alike agreed that he was a zombie returned from the dead. Yet this is not concrete proof of successful zombification, as this could have been a case of fraud or mistaken identity. Researchers had no way of proving that this was the same man as the one that had been pronounced dead on 2nd May 1962. Dr Wade Davis, an ethnobiologist from Harvard, went to Haiti to research this story. During his research, he discovered that almost all of the bokors’ proclaimed zombie-creating powders contained puff-
erfish poison – a deadly neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin. The toxin drops the victim’s temperature and blood pressure and puts them in a death-like coma – symptoms consistent with his theory of zombification. According to Dr Davis, a bokor would make a potion with enough tetradetoxin to immobilise a victim who would appear dead even to a doctor. After being buried by family and friends, the victim is dug up by the bokor and force-fed a paste that includes datura stramonium, locally known as “zombie’s cucumber”. This shockingly potent hallucinogenic makes them lose track of reality, as well as destroying all recent memories. Dr Davis’ conclusions sound plausible, yet there are gaping holes in this theory. As a result of the potency of the poison, bokors would have found it impossibly hard to judge the exact measure of the toxin that would cause proper paralysis, but not death. Dr Davis was also accused of tampering with test results in order to create a favourable outcome for his theories. Whether it is conclusive or not, Dr Wade Davis’ research has certainly unraveled some of the mystery surrounding zombies. But the question is, will more so-called “zombies” like Narcisse come forward? Dr Davis research does much to debunk these myths, but until conclusive proof is reached that they do not exist, it’s probably best to prepare for the inevitable zombie apocalypse anyway.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
SCIENCE & HEALTH
Pseudo-scientific Proof Language is far more than simply words, writes Alan Coughlan, it is a powerful tool than can be used to lull us into a false sense of security when it comes to alternative therapies.
anguage can be a deceptive tool. It can be used to create images and belief in people’s minds. Without proof or solid evidence, proud and confident practitioners of alternative medicine have duped millions of people into investing both their money and faith in quackery. “Calling yourself a nutritionist is the same as claiming to be a toothiologist” according to Dara O’Briain. Until I heard this sketch, I had always assumed that nutritionists were highly trained scientists, alas the word itself is not a protected term. Any person can call themselves a nutritionist. Even though there are well-taught and structured training courses in existence, caution is advised as there are no legal professional requirements in the field. Dieticians are the disenfrachised scientists in this case. Another profession which I had always assumed was comprised of medical doctors was chiropractic. It may surprise many people that the practitioners of chiropractic have not graduated from medical school. Buried within the practice is the belief in some kind of a life force which affects how we feel. It is through these back twisting exercises that one can be cured of all ills. This is the reason that the practice can appear effective and people feel that they can place all faith in their chiropractors. As with a lot of alternative medicine, people use chiropractors to help with very non-specific symptoms which are difficult to treat due to the fact that they often medicate themselves. Neck and back pain, along with migraines, are ailments which can’t be measured effectively in their severity. It all comes down to a loss of a general feeling of well-being. They are ailments that
usually recede by themselves with time, but if, when a sufferer is at their worst and they go to a chiropractor, they will see it as a significant choice. These ailments will get better by themselves, but the memory of the chiropractic treatment will elevate the status of the chiropractor in the patient’s mind to that of a healer. Perhaps no word can cause more confusion to the public than that of ‘doctor’. The respect the title immediately demands of a person is palpable. When one is in the presence of a ‘doctor’, they will immediately take greater heed of any advice given by this shaman-like figure. The problem is that the word doctor is another title that has been greatly subverted within the realm of pseudoscience. There are ‘doctors’ of practices such as homeopathy, acupuncture, magnetic therapy and even aromatherapy. All these practices have never been shown in rigorous trials to have any effect greater than that of placebo. Once the layman is presented with a confident, authoritative figure masquerading as a scientist, it can be difficult to see through the disguise. It is fascinating to realise that the simple presence of a white lab coat and an introduction to a supposed doctor can make people subservient to shocking degrees. The degree to which language influences human behaviour has long been a topic of debate. In 1961, Stanley Milgram set out to investigate whether or not Nazi war criminals could be telling the truth in their excuses for slaughtering Jews, by saying they were just following orders. The ruse was as follows. A test subject a was introduced to another b (actor) subject and told that they would have to ask them questions through radio contact between separate rooms. For each wrong answer, Subject a would administer an elec-
The Milgram experiment involved a series of highly controversial language-related tests on Nazi War criminals in the 1960s.
tric shock to subject b. The shocks would increase in severity as the test went on and more wrong answers were given. Subject a believed that the shocks were real, but in reality, no shocks were given. Pre-recorded screams would play out and subject b would shout that they wanted no more. Every time Subject a voiced concern or asked to stop the test, the experimenter in the lab coat would say one of four phrases in the same order: “please continue”, “the experiment must continue”, “it is absolutely essential that you continue” and “you must go on”. Only after a fifth protest from subject a would the test be stopped.
The predicted results by practicing psychologists and students alike, were that very few people would administer lethal shocks when ordered. The figure given was between one and two percent of people. Shockingly, in the Milgram experiment, it was shown that over sixty-five percent of people will administer what they think are lethal electric shocks to someone. They adhere to these orders simply because they are told to do so by an authority figure in a white coat. Such results may say more about the sinister nature of the average human being than it does about certain aspects of science vo-
cabulary, but it is in how we interpret both the words and people involved in science that is significant. No amount of blind faith in science should be entered into by anyone. This is best exemplified in the fact that scientists themselves are constantly asking questions of what they know and what they don’t know. There can be no absolutes but only more questions. As frustrating as that may seem it has always led to progress. Questioning everything – even seemingly authoritative figures – is necessary both for charlatans to be exposed and for the individual to gain personal wisdom.
Simon Singh – When Criticism In the first of a series of columns, Alison Lee investigates whether Goes Wrong drinking alcohol actually cures hangovers
Old Wives’ Tales Debunked: Hair Of The Dog
hat could old wives possibly know about hangovers? How many grey-haired, bespectacled dames do you see on your average night out, downing JaegerBombs and spilling pints on the dance floor? None. However, they still seem to think they know how to banish the feeling that someone’s removed your brain, thrown it into a food processor, then funneled it back into your head through your ear.
Call me a wuss, but I’d prefer a pint of water, two Panadol and a shower to the warm dregs at the bottom of someone’s sticky beer can.
One of these hangover cures involves a mysterious phrase – “hair of the dog”. No, that doesn’t mean you sneak up on your labrador with a pounding headache and a tweezers the morning after. It originates from an old cure for rabies. One would place the “hair of the dog that bit you” on
the bite wound. In this context however, it means curing a hangover with, well, more alcohol. There are two theories as to why this unlikely-sounding remedy might work. The first is based on the assumption that during a hangover, your body is in alcohol with-
drawal. Thus topping up your blood alcohol levels stops the withdrawal symptoms. Voila, no more hangover. The other theory is that hangovers are caused when your body breaks down methanol, which is present in alcoholic drinks along with ethanol (alcohol). The breakdown of methanol forms toxic products (including formaldehyde) that induce the state of post-party purgatory commonly known as a hangover. The liver enzyme that breaks down methanol also degrades ethanol, but without the formation of these nauseating chemicals. This enzyme preferentially breaks down ethanol over methanol. So the theory is that by drinking more during a hangover you’re giving the enzyme more ethanol to degrade, thus reducing the amount of methanol’s nasty breakdown products – and hey presto, goodbye hangover. But once the ethanol is broken down, its methanol’s turn again and we’re back to square one. Maybe not such a great cure after all. Both of these theories are interesting, but even the most hardened partygoers must find it difficult to contemplate downing another few the morning after without spewing. Call me a wuss, but I’d prefer a pint of water, two Panadol and a shower to the warm dregs at the bottom of someone’s sticky beer can. I guess I’m just not as rock n’ roll as those crazy old wives.
The British Chiropractic Association’s (BCA) libel case against Simon Singh, a renowned mathematical and scientific journalist and author, brought outrage from scientists and journalists alike. The case stemmed from an article that Singh wrote in the Guardian, which questioned the practice of chiropractic and its place beside recognised science and medicine. Singh’s case was funded by the Guardian and drew criticisms from many people, most who spoke against the BCA’s inability to recognise Singh’s right to free speech and opinion. The case was withdrawn by the BCA after media and internet support for Singh grew stronger and stronger. This case seemed to be both a landmark for journalists and scientists and resulted in the promotion of the “Keep Libel Laws out of Science” campaign by British charity Sense About Science. - Bridget Fitzsimons
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
SCIENCE & HEALTH
Technological Tips Buying computers and other assorted materials is a frustrating process, but there are bargains out there if you look hard enough, writes Conor Murphy.
oming back to college, or arriving for the first time, involves a huge expenditure on computers, software and various other items that most of us neither know or care about. This is perfectly acceptable. After all, we we can’t all be computer science experts. It’s easy to know what to do as long as you follow our handy guide to hardware, software and all the other ware in between.
Laptops are probably the most expensive purchase a lot of us will make in our student life, so take a little time to figure out your needs. Most students’ needs are the internet, porn, films, music, Blackboard and Googling celebrities. In that order. If you fall into this category, processors and RAM don’t really matter. If you spend spend over €480, you’re probably getting something that will do. There are, however, a few things to remember. Buy at the very least two gigabytes (GB) of RAM and don’t buy a computer with a Celeron processor. They’re old relics that couldn’t power a hamster wheel and leave the general feeling needless frustration when your once reliably speedy programme now takes ages to open. If you’re doing any 3D work (games or programmes), prepare to spend easily €600 to get anything worth using. A graphics card and a modern processor for this is a must and ask around and tell the shop assistants what you need. Laptops are a lot faster than they used to be, but still can be quite poorly built. The price differential between higher end brands and the cheaper ones lies almost exclusively with the build quality. There’s a reason Dell is cheaper. They break
more than most. If you can accept that, fine, but know what you’re buying into. Hewlett Packard laptops have traditionally been the worst for build quality. However, they have just released a new range that boasts a vastly better build quality than previous generations, so if you see one for a good price, you should definitely consider it. Sonys are good quality machines, but you do get what you pay for. Expect to pay slightly more, but it is well worth it. Acer are in the middle of the pack with build quality, but the real winners are Asus and Toshiba who have scored better than Apple in least laptop returns last year. Toshiba have some especially top notch laptops for Dell-esque prices. You should also keep an ear out for a high quality pair of speakers. You may not notice a bad pair until you get home and the terrible sound quality begins to slowly drive you insane. A quick word on Apple. It’s about taste. That’s it really. They are well-built, but not vastly better than PCs. People think so because they compare a €600 PC to a €1,000 Apple. You can get pretty similar quality in Windows machines and probably better specs by spending the same amount of money. The software however is more stable, secure and much much easier to use so just try it out and decide for yourself. Similarly, there are far less viruses and worms online for Macs, so they’re far easier to protect against threats. As for netbooks, spend the extra €40 or €50 to get a better quality one. They’re all really the same speed so three things matter; battery life, quality and extras. Extras are the keyboard, screen and speakers. Use them before you buy or check reviews online. Quality is simply how well-built they seem, pick them up and see how sturdy they are.
Buying a new computer for college needn’t be the most frustrating experience of your life.
CNet and Engadget are sites that review a lot of mainstream computers pretty thoroughly, but just Google your model number and find out. Historically, good netbook makers are HP, Samsung, Asus and Acer, but models do vary. Except for one. Don’t buy E-Machines. They’re frisbees with a screen and don’t even make good ash trays when the keyboard falls out.
Do not buy Office or Norton Antivirus. The student on a budget should investigate OpenOffice. It’s a free replacement that can save into Microsoft Word format per-
fectly 99% of the time. Sometimes it goes a little wonky, but really it’s perfectly fine and saves you the money you would have otherwise spent on Office. A quick note to all employees of the college who demand students use Microsoft Office: this is not cost-efficient. Forcing students to spend €100 each on software that has had a free replacement for the last decade is ridiculous and unfair, especially in these recessionary times. There is a temptation to not buy Office and simply demand that your professors change to the free version. They can’t mark you down for writing in a different
programme that they can get for free. It works on all computers and is actually better on certain points. Similarly, Microsoft Antivirus software can be downloaded free online and is a very effective way of protecting your computer from viral threats. Technology is not the terrifyingly expensive beast that it may seem to be. As long as you shop around, educate yourself and spend your pennies wisely, there’s no reason why your laptop and software can’t be an intelligent investment that lasts you the duration of your degree and further.
New Communications Facebook has changed the internet as we know it and altered our means of communications, but skeptics remain unimpressed, writes Alan Brogan.
ark Zuckerberg is a classical kind of guy. The founding father of Facebook, now a billionaire at 26, has a liking for Greek. “In college,” claims the Wall Street Journal he was “known for reciting lines from epic poems like the Iliad”. This seems appropriate for a man who has opened the Pandora’s Box of Facebook. Zuckerberg’s fame will skyrocket this autumn with the release of a film based on the early years of Facebook. The Social Network, directed by David Fincher and produced by Kevin Spacey, will cast the founder in an unfavourable light, as confirmed by the script which was leaked onto the internet last July. The movie will portray Zuckerberg as a sex-crazed megalomaniac with the tagline: “You don’t get 500 million friends without making a few enemies”. This caps a dramatic year for the company which saw them spend the first six months
“Greenfield quotes the journalist Caitlin Moran, who says ‘it’s no exaggeration to say that World of Warcraft is as addictive as methadone’” of 2010 trying to weather controversies over the privacy of users. In July, Facebook mandarins heralded reaching half a billion users as a clear vote of confidence by the people. Not everyone is convinced by the service. Among the skeptics is Labour’s Nessa Childers MEP, daughter of former president Erskine, and a practicing psychotherapist. “We can present on Facebook an unreal and flawless version of ourselves,” said Childers. “Many people access their Facebook page once or twice a week, however for others it has become a compulsion – and it is a compulsion to dissociate
oneself from the real world in exchange for the apparently non-threatening world of Facebook.” Childers is not alone in expressing caution. She claims that EU health experts should push for some legislation on the issue, though it’s hard to imagine what the legislation would involve or how it would be implemented. Baroness Susan Greenfield is a British neurologist and a peer of the realm and the author of ID: The Quest for Identity in the 21st Century. She is concerned that long periods of exposure to certain online activities are bad news for brain development, particularly in young children whose brains are still forming. The brain is malleable. In other words, it can be changed by external factors, particularly during the brain’s growth spurts in early childhood and adolescence. The brain’s plasticity means it can also be re-configured by over-exposure to life online. Constant scrolling and menu bars provide the viewer with lots of process but no content as we might find in a book. Baroness Greenfield has also expressed concern about the “avataric” nature of roleplaying games like Second Life and World of Warcraft. Avatars are a Hindu concept regarding gods who send themselves into the world in a human body. In Entropia Universe, a person can acquire a different appearance, different age and can buy virtual clothes with virtual currency.
This gives people a god-like perspective that they wouldn’t have in the real world. Baroness Greenfield quotes the journalist Caitlin Moran, who says “it’s no exaggeration to say that World of Warcraft is as addictive as methadone”. Is Facebook any more or less real? There are, of course, no accurate projections of where social networking will take us in the next few years. This also says nothing of the questions surrounding privacy and advertising. “Target your exact audience with demographic and psychographic filters about real people” is Mark Zuckerberg’s advice to those hoping to influence one twelfth of the world’s population with product placement. Through the medium of store cards supplied to customers by major retail outlets like Tesco, Super Valu etc, the spending habits of thousands of customers are already monitored based on the dubious promise of getting a five per cent discount on something the seventeenth time you buy it. The global, borderless nature of Facebook gives advertisers an opportunity to conduct a planet-wide programme of market research. Baroness Greenfield reports in her book that the search engine Google admitted that it aspired to one day be able to advise users on everything from career moves to how to spend their leisure time. She later quotes the physicist Carl Sagan; “It is
Mark Zuckerberg has courted controversy due to his dubious views on online privacy.
suicide to live in a society dependent on science and technology where virtually no-one knows anything about science and technology.” It is clear that the contents of Pandora’s Box have yet to settle. “More than 175 million people use Facebook; if it were a country it would be the sixth largest country in the world,” said Zuckerberg just a few a years ago. Now it might be the third largest. From it’s world headquarters in Palo Alto, California, Zuckerberg ponders the next move for this somewhat intangible new world. The Wall Street Journal was told by a Facebook employee; “In the company’s early days, Mr. Zuckerberg had an artist paint a mural evoking children taking over the world with laptops. He ended meetings by pumping his fist in the air and leading employees in a chant of domination”. Perhaps the future of social networking is not as bright as we thought.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
A True Rating for Universities The QS and Times Higher Education rankings are not necessarily a reliable indicator of university’s quality, writes Professor Danielle Clarke
new academic year is inevitably heralded by a splurge of commentary about university rankings: Shanghai Index (now ARWU), the QS Top Universities and the Times Higher Education rankings. Each, on the surface, tells the same story for Irish universities – a dip in performance – UCD out of the top 100, Trinity out of the top 50, according to QS. The ARWU, with its heavy emphasis on science and Nobel Laureates, takes an unsurprisingly dim view of the Irish sector – no university makes it into the top 200. The press and university presidents have seized on these as evidence that Irish universities are starved of cash and are unable to meet global standards without additional financial support – and tuition fees are usually seen as the only realistic solution. But it’s important to take a closer look – rightly or wrongly, these rankings now have a place in the public consciousness. The crude overall score in each case masks a good deal of complexity. In the QS rankings overall positions for Trinity and UCD were respectively 52 and 114. Broken down by area, the picture looks very different – 52 (TCD) and 89 (UCD) for Arts and Humanities, placing UCD in the company of some rather fine universities – 4 positions above Northwestern, a couple of spots behind Rutgers. In Natural Sciences, however, Trinity comes in at 81 and UCD at 261, making a nonsense of the composite figure as a meaningful measure of quality. On the QS employer index UCD comes in at a creditable 69, only 6 places behind Trinity. One might conclude that inadequate funding for research in science and technology makes it difficult for a university like UCD to compete globally, despite its expertise, whilst the humanities, which are low-cost, still continue to make a large impact on the world stage. The continuing high reputation of Irish universities in the humanities is the untold story of these rankings, and the arts the unsung hero of the university system. There is no country of comparable size to Ireland that registers in the top 100 at all
– the University of Helsinki scores consistently well at around 50 – Finland has a population of 5.25 million. Portugal, with a population of 10.7 million, has no university in the top 200. Ireland continues to punch above its weight, despite all the negative commentary about the thirdlevel sector: two universities in or near the top 100, the remaining ones figuring in the ranking alongside highly respected institutions globally. This is a good news story – we are on a par with universities that are funded in ways similar to our own, we struggle to compete with universities whose per capita income outstrips ours. UCD’s annual income in 2008 was €357 million – less than a third of that of Cambridge University (ranked top in QS, 6th by THES) at £1140 million. UCD has a slightly larger student population than Cambridge. Go figure. But how are the rankings compiled, and what do they actually mean? Like most rankings, the findings are only a reflection of the metrics applied. And quality isn’t just about money, as the performance of the Irish universities suggests. There is a good degree of consensus about the universities at the top. Further down, the lists get volatile, reflecting the vicissitudes of state support, research funding, hiring freezes and local conditions, even though most institutions will still be doing the same things in the same ways whether they are number 89 on the list or number 114. Neither are the rankings exactly “objective”. The QS rankings are based on a “Reputation Index”, namely what other academics think of each institution (this counts for 40%). It stands to reason that this is a self-fulfilling prophecy: high profile, famous universities will be judged to be successful. Less famous ones will fall beneath the radar – or their specific strengths will not register because they fall outside of these measures. Irish universities, for historical, cultural and linguistic reasons, tend to identify themselves with US and UK institutions, whilst also looking to Europe – most colleagues in UK universities have never heard of the Bologna Agreement, even though
they are signatories to it. In Europe, we’re doing well – Trinity is number 14, whilst UCD comes in at a creditable 26. This perhaps reflects the fact that many, if not most, European universities are primarily teaching institutions, and rankings are largely about research – the THES allots 30% of its assessment to teaching, 65% to research activity and 5% to international factors. European universities tend to have relatively poor staff-student ratios but also to prioritise teaching over research. And this is really the most important thing about university rankings – that they give insufficient weight to what many would still see as the key function of a university, namely teaching a core curriculum to undergraduates who will go on to use, develop and expand those skills in ways that benefit the society that contributed through taxation to third level education. The story of the rankings is really of the abandonment of this goal by governments and universities themselves in favour of more instant (and quantifiable) returns. These things are vitally important, but there is a risk that without a solid core of high quality undergraduate teaching, innovation and research will become a law of diminishing returns, increasingly reliant on imported expertise. When, rather than if, we move into a new era of tuition fees, the universities’ government-driven focus on research will come under renewed pressure. As a recent opinion piece in the Economist pointed out, the hours that American students spend engaged in study have fallen as inexorably as their tuition fees have risen, a factor partly attributed to the commitment of faculty to research at the expense of teaching. In a gobsmacking statistic, this year, 20 of Harvard’s 48 history professors are on leave. Students have every reason to ask their universities to spend less time worrying about rankings, and more time on educating them for the future. Professor Danielle Clarke is a Professor of Renaissance Language and Literature in the School of English, Drama and Film, UCD.
Greetings gofers, Talleyrand welcomes those of you who have ventured from far and wide to join the crestfallen community of Universal Cretins Dublin, an institution whose freefall out of the world rankings is only matched by its spiraling deficit and everexpanding dodgy art collection. Now that you’re just a number in Hugh “Why doesn’t Philip like me anymore?” Brady’s degree factory, Talleyrand implores you to stick to your plebeian ideals, and leave this hellhole as fast as you can. And whatever you do, avoid the west end of the campus – the area where that stench of self-importance and egotism clings to a Walls crane – for in the shadow of the water tower lies a cesspit of idiots, miscreants, and unscrupulous rogues – better known as Hackland. At the head of this nation of degenerates sits Paul “Old fossil” Lynam, a man that’s been around the block more than his fair share of times, and whose bedpost is more notched than an Ogham stone. Balding Paul is bent on “professionalising” the Students’ Goonion this year, and one the surface, appears to have made some slight improvements on last year’s unholy mess – pity though that the staff are still so incompetent and the Goonion still refuses to pay its bills. In the spirit of professionalism, there’s no food or drink allowed on the Union Horrordor this year, but the rules regarding carnal relations are still in place, and who better to uphold them than our sex-addicted President? Lynam ducked out of the bar early on Black Monday to escort a comely maiden to this office, where, well… you get the photograph picture. Talleyrand is thinking of getting Slynam a dictionary for Christmas so he can actually look up the meaning of the word ‘professional’. Next door to him sits James “What’s that smell from the corner of my office?” Williamson, the Edumacation Officer. All eyes are on Jamie Boy this year, given how he usurped his mentor and ended his ‘career’ in disgrace. One of his top priorities of the year was to improve intervarsity relations with his counterpart in the Queen’s University of Dublin, which crashed and
burned before Union of Stupids in Ireland National Council even met. He says things fizzled out, she said he never called. Talleyrand knows which one to believe. Down one door again, Chief Welfairy Scott “Bullied in the workplace” Ahearn ain’t going anywhere yet. After running in approximately 1,000,000,000,000 elections to reach the dizzying bottoms of Welfare, he’s not even thinking of leaving until every single last pleb has a condom, has some form of financial assistance, and has Please Talked. Sweet-tempered Scott is so full of love, he can’t possibly share it all between the hours of 9am and 5pm, and has been known to dispense re-assuring hugs and shoulders to cry on into the small hours of the morning. Talleyrand’s heard he even gives out hickeys when people are asleep. He says it’s merely a night-time present, but Talleyrand’s pretty sure it’s sexual assault. Up the other end of the Horrordor, the dastardly duo of Jonny “Bottle of Jager” Cosgrove and Pat “Running for President 2011” de Brún have been wreaking havoc amongst the Sap-bats – kicking people off Governing Authority, monopolising the graphic design resources, partying till the break of dawn – there’s no stopping Belfield’s answer to Ant and Dec. Pee and Jay have a ‘scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ arrangement going on. Out of this arrangement, Pat-a-cakes will obviously receive Jonny’s support when he runs for the ‘coveted’ position of President next Spring, but what will Jonny receive? Talleyrand has suspicions, mainly involving an ounce of lube, a line of penetration, and a bag of love. Now that you know you they are, you know to avoid the hacks at all costs. This time o’ year is particularly dangerous as they seek to recruit eager Revolting Reps to join their army of uselessness. You have been warned. Talleyrand’s off to a secure hiding place, far, far away from the shushing smile of Pauly D and his cronies. Ladies, Talleyrand suggests you do the same. Talleyho! Talleyrand
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
Editorial 21st September 2010
reshers’ Week means different things, depending on who you ask. Ask a bright-eyed young fresher, and they’ll tell you it is the most exciting thing that they have encountered in UCD. Ask someone who has been around for a few years, and they will tell you the two societies to join and the best table to steal pizza from. Aside from the one or two new events, Freshers’ Week has remained a steady constant for as long as I have been in UCD. We see the same events, the same people and the same freebies. The Students’ Union will always give out free condoms and FilmSoc will always be doling out the popcorn. It is doubtless an exciting week for all involved, but one cannot help but feel that things need to be shaken up. For those both new and not so new to UCD, it is time to look around you and ask what is actually happening. Look at the people who are representing
you in all facets of your university life and question whether or not they are capable of this job. The Students’ Union is in its third consecutive year of being a largely exclusionary face of students. Five young, white, straight males represent the entire student body to the university authorities, to the media and to the public in general. Given that UCD has only become more diverse over the last few years, where is the diversity in our union? While certain individuals are doing their jobs to the best of their ability, this imbalance needs to be addressed. Campaigns and Communications Vice-President, Pat de Brún, has yet to announce any formal plans to encourage diversity in the SU, but something must be done. The only thing that differs these men from each other is the counties which they come from, and even then, four out
Letters to the Editor
of five are from counties that are relatively close to Dublin. Women, members of the LGBT community, mature students and other minorities have made progress in the SU, but it seems as if the higher echelons are closed off to those who differ from a very narrow standard that UCDSU have set down for themselves. Even in the people who work around the SU, only two women, the Editor of this publication included, work in the SU corridor. What message does this send to new students coming in, following the mantra that de Brún has been forcing on them in lecture addresses? The lack of visible diversity in UCDSU hardly encourages anyone even slightly different to “get involved”. The best thing to do is listen to what they are asking you to do, only try something different. Do not become a part of the tired old clique, shouting and making in-jokes at SU council.
Editor Bridget Fitzsimons
The Editor, The University Observer, UCD Student Centre, Belfield, Dublin 4
Deputy Editor Paul Fennessy
Madam, I was disappointed by the extent to which UCD students ran amok on campus this Black Monday, September 12. No one is going to say students can’t ring in the new college year with a night of partying, indeed I was amongst them, but the level to which some students took it was even beyond the worst of what you see might in the city centre on a Saturday night. I was in the (dangerously overcrowded) Student Bar when a vicious fight broke out that resulted in the bar closing early. Walking back to res afterwards, disappointed with the night, I witnessed so many cases of students
vomiting and endangering one another that I realised enjoying drinks on campus is no longer a safe idea for me in future. It seems no surprise to me that it was this same night that the Taoiseach was supposedly drinking too much at a party function that has resulted in a major political embarrassment for the entire country. The students of Ireland need to take a cold hard look at themselves and ask if they are drinking too much. Yours, etc Joseph Stewart 2nd Arts
Clarification 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
Want to attend a debate on feminism? Make sure the women’s officer makes it happen. Feeling alienated and alone as a member of the LGBT community in UCD? Go to the LGBT rights officer and make sure you are taking advantage of all the services offered to you. Just as Students’ Union sabbatical positions are tudent politics must stop not there to send people straight being a tired old boys to the Dáil, executive positions club, churning out the are not there to feed more mempoliticians of the future. bers of the tired clique into sabIts structures are there to protect batical positions, thus fuelling students. While you may notice the incestuous cycle of student the efforts the SU sabbatical of- politics. ficers are going to in order to Students’ unions can and have make sure you know their fac- done excellent work for the es, make sure that they actually rights of past, current and fudo what you are paying them ture students. for. It is no good having a stu- It is now up to you to demand dents’ union you recognise, but the best service that you can who are doing absolutely noth- and make sure that your voice ing to help you on your journey is heard among the rabble, because if you don’t speak up and through college. Do not be afraid to use your demand better where you think executive officers if you want you deserve it, no one will hear something to be talked about. you.
Contributors: Volume XVII, Issue 1
Letters should be sent by email to email@example.com or by mail to:
All letters are subject to editorial approval. The Editor reserves the right to edit any letters.
Get elected for class rep or SU executive and try to affect real change. Do not go along with the sheep-like mentality that has infected SU council for the past few years. Go in there with thoughts and ideas of your own on how to affect real change and try your best.
Art & Design Directors Jenn Compeau Shane Mc Intyre otwo Editors Emer Sugrue Killian Woods News Editor Amy Bracken
Chief News Reporter Katie Hughes
Sports Editor Ryan Mackenzie
Features Editor Leanne Waters
Music Editor Grace Murphy
Chief Features Writer Natalie Voorheis
Film Editor Jon Hozier-Byrne
Comment Editor Kate Rothwell
Fashion Editor Kieran Murphy
Science, Health & Technology Editor Alan Coughlan
Online Editor Chris Duffin
Contributors The Badger, Eoin Brady, Kevin Beirne, Aoife Brophy, Alan Brogan, Professor Danielle Clarke, Andrew Collins, Stephen Devine, Bríd Doherty, Sarah Doran, Ciara Doyle, Cormac Duffy, Luke Duggan, Caitríona Farrell, Fight Like Apes, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Eithne Fitzsimons, Aiden Forde, Sam Geogeghan, Matt Gregg, Alyson Grey, Michael Halton, Hannah Higgins, Matthew Jones, Matthew Judge, Adam Kearney, Alison Lee, Catherine Maguire, George Morahan, Conor Murphy, Mystic Mittens, Jake O’Brien, Sinéad O’Brien, Gordon O’Callaghan, James O’Connor, Dearbhail O’Crowley, Conor O’Nolan, Michael Phoenix, Gavan Reilly, Emily Reynolds, Alison Sneyd, Talleyrand, Ekaterina Tikhoniouk, Aoife Valentine, Rebecca Windsor. Photographers Aengus Boyle, Bridget Fitzsimons, Emer Igbokwe, Kieran Murphy.
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; Giselle Jiang; Dave Carmody; Dominic, Grace, Charlie, Jason, Gary, Stephen, Mark, Sandra, Paul and all the Student Centre staff; Catriona Laverty and her football cake; Michelle McCormick; Stephen Carroll; Danielle Moran; Catriona Blake and the muffins; David Neary; Mac Format Magazine; Tommy Wiseau and the creators of The Room game; Bombay Pantry; Four Star Pizza; Simon Cowell, Roman Pavlyuchenko. Very Special Thanks Rob Lowney, Gavan Reilly, Diarmuid McDermott, Eoghan Casey and Mary Kate Murphy at EA.
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THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
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THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
Like Father, Like Son Nicholas Roche needs to curb his temperamental tendencies if he is to have any hope of matching his father’s achievements, writes Stephen Devine
SPORTS DIGEST Gaelic Games: UCD defeated St. Peregrine’s in the Dublin SFC at O’Toole Park with a score of 2-13 to 0-6 to advance to a quarter-final meeting with St. Brigid’s this weekend. John Heslin and Ciaran Kelly lead the scoring with 2-3 and 0-6 respectively. Under 21 Westmeath native, Heslin, was particularly impressive for UCD with a storming
t can be difficult to live up to parental expectations at the best of times. However, when you’re the son of a Tour de France champion and you strive to make your way in the competitive world of professional cycling, the bar is set almost unreachably high. This is the situation Nicholas Roche finds himself in. Rather than being over-awed by the anticipation surrounding his career, he is channeling his energy into challenging his father Stephen’s achievements in the world of cycling. Winning the Tour de France is regarded as the pinnacle of any cyclist’s career and in order to emulate his father, this young Irishman has to do just that.
Rowing: UCD’s team of Tom Doyle, Finbar Manning, Colum Pierce, Jennie Lynch and Dave Neale claimed a historic Prince Albert Challenge Cup at the Henley Regatta. UCD defeated Cambridge and Harvard University on course to the final, where they capped off their success with an emphatic two lengths victory over Yale. Athletics: UCD student Steven Colvert was a late qualifier in the 200m for the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona. Colvert qualified with a lifetime best of 20.90s in the
Roche’s comments afterwards showed the level of unrest in the camp, ‘I wanted to smash his head in. I couldn’t stand to be near him’ In 1987, Stephen Roche reached the Elysium of cycling by winning the Triple Crown – which consists of the Giro de Italia, the Tour de France and the World Road Race Championships. He became a national hero and rose to the summit of the cycling world. Nicholas’ rise, in contrast to his father’s, has been steady rather than rapid. Having turned professional in 2004, it wasn’t until last year that he won his first Irish National Road Race Championship. He made his major breakthrough in that year’s Tour de France, finishing 23rd, including five top ten finishes. This result, combined with
Belgian Championships. Nineteenyear-old Colvert finished seventh in his heat in a time of 21.14s. Sailing: UCD Sailing Club member, Annalise Murphy, recently won the Laser Radial National Championships in Belfast. Murphy dominated the event winning four of her eight races. Murphy is a prominent figure in Irish sailing and will have genuine chances of success in the 2012 Olympics in the United Kingdom Roche’s father Stephen is the only Irishman ever to win the Tour de France
other good finishes that year, led to the Dungarvan man being named leader of his team – French outfit ‘Ag2r-La Mondiale’ – for this year’s tour. Although he eventually finished an impressive 15th, internal fighting amongst himself and his teammates marred the tour. On one particularly grueling stage, a teammate, John Gadret, refused to give Roche his wheel when his own became punctured, as would be usual practice between teammates. Roche’s comments afterwards showed the level of unrest in the camp, “I wanted to smash his head in. I couldn’t stand to be
near him”. Incorrectly considered by many to be an individual sport, teamwork is in fact a vital component in cycling competitions. A sour relationship with his teammates could spell disaster for the twentysix-year-old’s title aspirations. Hopefully the problems will subside, as the two are contracted to be teammates for at least another two years. The immediate future for Roche is the World Road Championships, which are set to take place in Melbourne this October. He is once again the team leader supported by teammate’s David McCann and Matt Brammeier. Roche will no doubt set
his sights high and target a top 15 finish, yet one wonders if, after a season that has included two grand tours, fatigue will start to take its toll. So just how bright a future does Roche have? He himself will no doubt be targeting a first place finish in a major tour next season. Many commentators believe that a Grand Tour win is not beyond him, while some even believe that he has the potential to go on and match at least some of his father’s famous achievements. Ultimately, Roche has yet to scale the career heights of his father, but it would be foolish to write him off.
UCD Marian’s men’s side start their season at home to UL Eagles on 2nd October. The most exciting addition to the squad is American collegian James Crowder, who joined the club from Pfeiffer University in North Carolina, USA, during the summer break. Crowder averaged fifteen points and eight rebounds a game during his time at Pfeiffer. Frank Ryan’s side will be looking to improve on a disappointing season last year. Michael Halton
The Badger In his long-awaited return from summer obscurity, the Badger takes on footballing divas Henry Winter and Aiden McGeady
Ever since the Badger was a young cub, he has dreamed of playing for Spartak Moscow. Krasno-belye, like 4-2-3-1, have been a lifelong passion of the Badger, and with their red and white shirts, depict the pinnacle of fashion in the Badger’s beady little eyes. This has been an infatuation that has proved difficult to share with people from the Western block, until now. After years of living in isolation as a hermit, the Badger has finally found a person who shares his adoration for Spartak Moscow. A person who doesn’t love the club for the
billions of oil sourced Roubles and someone the Badger never thought he’d be able to relate to. Aiden McGeady, with his deep Irish heritage, has become somewhat of an idol for the Badger. Since his 368,490,025.33 Rouble move, McGeady has been thoroughly embracing the culture and has been spotted out and about Moscow being driven from training sessions to his house by his personal chauffeur. McGeady has also been rumoured to be sampling Russian cuisine prepared by his two personal chefs from Nandos and Greggs in Glasgow. Some criticised his move, but the Badger would like to say “good luck” to his new BFF Mr. McGeady.
@HenryWinter was in the news last week in light of his first-ever reply to anyone on Twitter, and the Badger is not happy. The Badger has had one encounter with @HenryWinter in the past. That fateful night in the Stade de France when Ireland rolled over to let France progress to
the World Cup finals in South Africa was hardly the best venue to make first contact, but you could argue queuing for urinals wasn’t either. So even while standing in line beside @ HenryWinter, waiting to relieve all that free champagne scoffed before the game, the Badger failed to get a reply out of football’s equivalent of the Queen. Starting with general conversation, the Badger went for an opening line of, “@ HenryWinter What did you think of that ludicrous display?” No response, so the Badger attempted a light-hearted joke to break the dead air, “@HenryWinter It’s surprising the #French need to #use the toilet since their heads are located in their rear end”. Still, no response. Craving his attention, the Badger went all out to claim a reply. “@HenryWinter, this is nonsense. The male toilets in #the press box should be larger. Let’s be honest, this is a profession for men. #Women can’t be sport journalists. They don’t need toilets.” By this time, @HenryWinter was already making use of the urinal and a chance of a lifetime was missed. In light of this, you can understand how annoyed the Badger was last week when he was informed that a pathetic and futile tweet directed at @HenryWinter referring to the new national football centre in Burton got his attention.
Over the long summer, people seem to have forgotten one of the golden clichés of our beautiful game. “Football isn’t played on paper”, never has, and with the exception of the Badger playing out the 1978 European Cup final for kicks and giggles on an A3 sheet, never will be. Everyone now seems to fancy themselves as
a mini tactician and scoff when Sky Sports place Daniel Agger at right centre back instead of left. To these people, the Badger would like to say, “Get over yourselves”. The progression of football from a chaotic positional mess to W-M formations, and then onto 4-4-2 is interesting. However, analysing a change from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-21 by means of pass charts, heat positional sensors and a 1,500-word blog, is not.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
In a league of their own
Fenno on Sport Returning columnist Paul Fennessy looks at the recent Sam Allardyce/Arsene Wenger spat amongst other sporting issues.
A Inter Milan succeeded in taking the Champions League cup in 2010.
could not find a more apt quote after the first round of Champions League fixtures that of Shakespeare’s Henry V – “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more”. Every football fan knows that there is nothing better than witnessing their team playing on the biggest European stage with all the lights, music and ever-present drama we have come to expect from the Champions League. As a whole, the first round of games fulfilled even the most optimistic of fans expectations. With Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona and Valencia all recording comfortable wins. Although they may be disappointed at having to settle for a point, Tottenham Hotspur can be proud of their opening display of the tournament with a fine first-half display, particularly from Rafael van der Vaart. Manchester United fans, on the other hand, will be disappointed that their side were only able to come away from a relatively easy opening fixture against Rangers with a point. Alex Ferguson may well be concerned by their inept performance. The prize for the best display of round one has to go to Arsenal. Their fine demonstration of free-flowing football was far too much for Portuguese outfit S.C. Braga, and saw them running out as 6-0 winners. Some may turn their nose up and question why Braga are even allowed participate in Europe’s premier competition. Let’s not forget, though, that this small club from northern Portugal held former European champions Porto to third place in the league last year, before navigating the qualifying rounds – overcoming Celtic and Sevilla – to earn their spot in the Champions League. At this time of year, there are always plenty of people praising the performances of Arsenal, and every year people begin to speculate that it may be their time. From this display, however, it just might be. Arsenal’s weakness always lay in the physical dimen-
sions of the game. However, having added some much needed muscle in the form of Laurent Koncienly and Sebastian Squillaci, Arsene Wenger finally seems to have addressed the issue. Barcelona recorded an impressive 5-1 win against Greek side Panathinaikos. Argentine superstar Lionel Messi continued his great form with two goals, once again demonstrating why he is considered to be the best in the world. The route was completed when new signing David Villa found the net, along with goals from wunderkind Pedro and Brazilian right-back Daniel Alves. What Pep Guardiola brings to Barcelona is the consistent development of his side. With the arrival of David Villa, they have added a good old-fashioned poacher and Mascherano’s introduction gives the squad some much-needed strength in the center of the park. On top of this, Barcelona have true quality coming through their ranks in Pedro and Sergio Busquets – both of whom are already World Cup winners. What Villa brings to the side is what his predecessor, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, could not – the ability to sneak a vital goal in a close contest. Los Culés were missing such a factor when they crashed out of the competition in last year’s semi-final – losing to eventual winners Inter Milan. Last years finalists, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich, had contrasting starts to this years campaign. Inter where poor against Dutch champions FC Twente drawing 2-2, whilst Bayern recorded a strong 2-0 victory at home over Italian side AS Roma. Under Rafael Benítez, Inter looked nowhere near the team that won the competition last year. They have had a poor start to their domestic league, and have failed to add any new dimensions to their play. Bayern Munich players, such as Thomas Muller and Bastian Schweinsteiger, have grown and developed into World Class performers after their strong showing in the World Cup for Germany. Bayern have
“What Pep Guardiola brings to Barcelona is the consistent development of his side” a great chance of continuing late into the competition. Chelsea ran out comfortable 4-1 winners away to Slovakian side MŠK Žilina on the same ground where the Roman Abramovich‘s Chelsea experiment began seven years ago under Claudio Ranieri. Carlo Ancelotti’s side will be very pleased with their opening fixture, in which Nicolas Anelka (twice), Daniel Sturridge and Michael Essien found the net. The competition began in predictable fashion. The top clubs exhibited just why they are considered such, while the minnows failed to rally any shocking upsets. That said, the time of easy predictions may soon come to an end as the weaker sides crash out, leaving the big-hitters to battle for the top prize in Europe. - Gordon O’Callaghan
rsene Wenger is indisputably one of the greatest managers to ever grace the Premier League in the competition’s brief history. Yet for all his team’s persistently masterful exhibitions of vim and vigour, his tendency to display unreasonable dogmatism in post-match interviews infuriates all but the most ardent Arsenal supporters. Wenger’s latest outburst makes him sound akin to a stuck record. The Frenchman bemoaned the supposed leniency dealt towards goalkeeper Adam Bogdan after the goalkeeper injured Abou Diaby in Arsenal’s recent 4-1 defeat of Bolton. The Arsenal manger went on to bemoan the perceived tolerance for overly aggressive behaviour in the Premier League. He concluded by remarking that the “English game becomes dangerous when the players go to hurt each other”. Allardyce, in response to Wenger’s complaints, justifiably accused the Arsenal manager of hypocrisy. “I have to remind Arsene about his team, which used to win the league, that was the dirtiest team in the league.” Indeed Wenger’s early Arsenal sides were equally breathtaking to watch, but far less disciplined than their modern counterparts. In addition to the elegance exhibited by players such as Nicolas Anelka and Emanuel Petit, the side also incorporated an abundance of staunch physicality – Patrick Viera and Martin Keown being amongst the serial aggressors. The venerated 2001/2002 double-winning side picked up a, dare I say it, Blackburn-esque 95 disciplinary points, comfortably finishing bottom of the relevant charts in the process. In addition, the fact that Wenger’s teams picked up an unprecedented 73 red cards between 1996 and 2008 makes his burgeoning persecution complex ring especially hollow. Yet a curious trend has become apparent of late. In conjunction with Wenger’s Arsenal teams assuaging their chronic ill-discipline, their levels of footballing success has concurrently diminished. Do these enlightening facts prove that foul play is a mandatory means towards eventual triumph? No, is the short answer. Last season’s Premiership winners, Chelsea, finished a respectable eleventh in the equivalent Fair Play standings, while the league runners-up, Manchester United, came as high as sixth. However, there remains reason to suspect a correlation between Arsenal’s improved on-field behaviour and their increasingly fruitless quest for success. The early incarnations of Wenger’s Arsenal were captained by Tony Adams – a player who
struck fear into the hearts of many an opponent. The majestic presence of Adams was perfectly complimented by his equally able central defensive partner, Martin Keown. Although they have enjoyed some minor successes since the respective departures of Adams and Keown, Arsenal have never fully recovered from their absence. They were the requisite beasts which allowed the beauty, purveyed by their foreign imports, to flourish. The likes of Cesc Fabregas must long for similar characters, as their influence would be invaluable not only on the pitch, but particularly in the dressing room. Moreover, Arsenal conceded forty-two goals last season – nine less than Chelsea, thirteen less than Manchester United and incredibly, six less than seventh-placed Liverpool. They will generally be adept at disposing of lacklustre opposition of the Blackpool variety. Yet a defensive fragility has pervaded their ranks in key fixtures, most notably following the departure from the club of Patrick Viera. Furthermore, while Allardyce was right to criticise Wenger’s obstinacy, he was wrong in another respect. Allardyce indicated that Wenger’s comments were influencing referees unduly and thus, by extension, significantly aiding Arsenal’s progress. On the contrary, the Frenchman’s consistent protestations of his team’s meek helplessness if anything exacerbated their ineptitude. As last season progressed, the more Wenger demonstrated his dismay in interviews, the more his team exhibited their stark fallibilities. By the campaign’s culmination, Arsenal were dead mentally, as evinced by their careless concession of three late goals in their end-of-season loss to Wigan. Therefore, by constantly inferring that his players are victimised, Wenger unwittingly provides Arsenal with a cop-out clause. When they are being hammered by a side of real men, such as Manchester United or Chelsea, there is bound to be a collective misguided belief permeating the team: namely, that the primary reason for such culpability is footballing injustice as opposed to psychological flimsiness. Recent stories surrounding Wayne Rooney and Ricky Hatton have further threatened to irrevocably damage the already waning credibility of their respective sports. Assuming the allegations are true, they represent further evidence that these overly cosseted so-called “stars” have completely lost touch with reality. According to some reports, Rooney has been denied the chance of becoming the next Manchester United captain as a result of his actions, while Hatton’s reputation as a sporting legend loved-by-all is in tatters thanks to his indiscretion. The popularity of boxing has already suffered greatly owing to numerous fightfixing controversies sparked by a minority of unseemly individuals. Football is in danger of suffering a similar long-term fate unless it undergoes a swift image overall. Following the acquisition of his ninth grand slam, the unstoppable Nadal pinpointed his “intensity on the court” as the underlying secret to his success. Yet the most telling assertion was provided by his uncle and long-time trainer, Toni Nadal. Toni downplayed the media speculation over the extent of Nadal’s greatness which accompanied news of this triumph. He calmly declared that “it’s important [for Nadal] to win now, but for nothing else”. Such sentiments emphasise the importance of keeping sports stars (no matter how great) grounded. It also provided a pertinent reminder that the ability of any sport to truly transcend its status as a mere game relies not only on the skills of its great athletes, but also on their perennial dignity.
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVER 21 September 2010
Power to the People The world number one and legend of the darts world, Phil “The Power” Taylor, speaks to Ryan Mackenzie about sports stardom, healthy eating and his most memorable moments. Sports Editor
hil Taylor finds himself in a rather rare situation in the world of sport. At the age of fifty, he is in the best form of his life and demonstrating just what it means to be a truly dominant phenomenon. There aren’t many sports in which a player can be the unquestionable world number one for over twenty years, yet “The Power” – as he has so deservedly become known – has transformed the world of darts since he emerged onto the scene in 1988 and continues to pull away from the field. I was privileged enough to meet up with Taylor when he made a brief stop over in the capital promoting the highly anticipated Bodog.com World Grand Prix tournament, which will be held in Dublin’s Citywest hotel in early October. Taylor has already laid claim to nine world grand prix competions and is eager to reach double figures. The great man eluded to having a glimmer of mortality however, claiming, “I am a little bit scared [of the] first round,” due to the nature of this double-start competition. Surprisingly though, it wasn’t the aura of brilliance or unrivaled success that made the presence of “The Power” a pleasure to behold, nor was it the sterling supremacy of his career which made him an endearing figure. The most impressive quality of the finest player to ever throw a dart was his downto-earth nature. Those without prior knowledge of his triumphant career could be forgiven for disbelieving that the man sitting in front of the eagerly peering press was a global superstar. Far from the arrogant and success-corrupted demeanour of sports stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Kobe Bryant, Taylor demonstrated a personality which
typified the very essence of darts. Almost conveying an attitude of naivety towards the magnitude of his success, the world number-one spoke in a modest tone and made no attempt to shy away from the truth. At one stage he even humourously admitted, “I’ve actually woken up three times this week with a hard-on” amid discussion of his fruitful new training and nutritional programmes. Aside from this light-humoured response towards his new fitness regime, it would appear that Taylor has placed huge emphasis on his health. Claiming to have lost over three stone, he spoke candidly of his unhappiness at his unhealthy past. When asked about the inspiration for his new health kick, he explained, “I want to prolong my career and make myself better, and now I’m a lot happier and a lot fitter with a lot more energy”. There can be no mistake that the game of darts has evolved into a sport for athletes, where the traditional beer-chugging punters of the past can no longer keep up and “The Power” has no intentions of falling behind. Certainly the question must be asked: how long can Phil Taylor continue to dominate the sport? When quizzed over whether his ambitions lay in retiring at the top or simply playing until he can no longer make the dart reach the board, he replied with another assuringly humble and frank response: “I’m going to go for another five years when I get my pension. It should have been when I was fifty but the government changed the rules”. Intentions are one thing, but fulfilling those ambitions could prove to be more difficult than anticipated. The new breed of player that we see entering the tour is far from the beer-bellied “man’s man” that
Phil Taylor is the only player to ever hit two perfect nine finishes in a single televised match. Photo: Aengus Boyle.
graced the leaderboard during Taylor’s early years. The older generation, spearheaded by big Phil, could find that their talent may lack the stamina to outlast this new model of bullseye hitter. It is no secret that the decline of a sportsman in his latter years is a far steeper and rapidly effective slope than that of their ascension to the top. While Taylor’s confidence was impressive, only time will tell if he can hold off the hungry pack that eagerly awaits any slip up to come from the master.
So what, over the course of Taylor’s career, has been the greatest match and finest memory of his time in professional darts? As you would imagine, his response was one of general content with what has been a fantastic career. But how could he choose just one moment? Having won fifteen World Championships – including eight-in-a-row – and ten World Matchplay titles, as well as smashing almost every record in the game and cheapening the once astonishing nine-
dart finish by converting seven in televised events alone, Phil Taylor’s career has been a procession of the extraodinary. As well as singling out his first two World Championships, Taylor pinpointed his victory in the News of the World Individual Darts Championship as a particularly special moment in his career, commenting, “you havn’t won anything till you’ve won the News of the World. Well I have”. A classy answer, befitting of a classy champion.
Nothing Compares to U.S. A European loss will not only provide bragging rights to the visitors in next month’s Ryder Cup, but might just call for a revision of Europe’s selection process, writes Sam Geoghegan
he Ryder Cup is upon us once again, and Europe is desperate to avoid a second consecutive defeat at the hands of the United States. The sporting world will be glued to the dramatic, exciting, and very often painfully intense action from the moment the first ball is struck on the morning of 1st October. This Ryder Cup is crucial for the Europeans. The pressure is on captain Colin Montgomerie and his team to reclaim the trophy that the US impressively won at Valhalla two years ago. Europe hasn’t lost back-to-back cups since 1993, nor has it been beaten on home soil since. To make matters worse, Montgomerie had the unenviable task of selecting three wildcards out of five deserving and talented stars. The Scot chose three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, Englishman Luke Donald and the Italian Edoardo Molinari, brother of Francesco Molinari, with
“Justin Rose won twice on the PGA Tour this year and is ranked higher than four of the selected team” whom he brought home their country’s first World Cup in China almost a year ago. While Francesco has failed to win on the tour this year, and joins Harrington in a spell of underachievement, his brother has two tour victories under his belt. The English duo of Paul Casey and Justin Rose were the unfortunate two who will have to watch the event from home. All five of the players in question had compelling reasons for selection, so the issue here is not with Montgomerie and his vice-
captains, but with the flaws of Europe’s selection process. Casey is ranked number seven in the world, yet he’s unable to earn a spot on the 12-man team. Justin Rose won twice on the PGA Tour this year and is ranked higher than four of the selected team. Dubliner Harrington undoubtedly earned his spot due to his impressive double at The Open and not his Ryder Cup track record. Montgomerie described his selection headache as “an embarrassment of riches on this occasion”, yet this “embarrassment” was caused by the European Tour’s stubbornness to admit that they are inferior to their American counterparts. The US PGA Tour is, without a doubt, the most prestigious tour in golf. It has the best players and the biggest prize money. These factors make it irresistible for any professional golfer wishing to challenge themselves against the best in the game and have drawn much of the talent away from Europe’s “Race to Dubai”. The Ryder Cup is Europe’s finest against the best of the United States; it is not the European Tour versus the PGA Tour. Encouraging participation in the European Tour by offering Ryder Cup points is clever, yet shortsighted. If the European Tour officials believe that their policy will force more of their players’ home from across the Atlantic, one just has to remember the last European qualifying tournament. At Gleneagles, Casey, Harrington, Donald
The Europeans will be seeking revenge on home soil having been comprehensively defeated two years ago.
and Rose all needed to play in an attempt to gain an automatic spot. Not one of the four attended the tournament in Scotland, instead preferring to take part in the first round of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs in New Jersey. Each of the “FedEx Four” knew the consequences of their decision, yet the lure of the PGA Tour and its end of season playoff structure proved more appealing than a spot in the Ryder Cup. On a positive note, however, Europe has a good mixture of youth and experience – six of the team being first timers. Harrington’s two Open Championships and a USPGA Championship title are no longer all Europe can show for their efforts at the majors.
Irishman Graeme McDowell won this year’s US Open, while Martin Kaymer of Germany proved victorious at the PGA Championship. That said, while the European team is excellent, it could be better. Paul Casey and Justin Rose are unequivocally inside the top twelve European players in the world and deserve to be on the team. If “Mr. Ryder Cup” himself, Montgomerie, is unable to lead Europe to the 14.5 points needed to claim the trophy back from the Americans, then the selection process must be altered – just as the Americans did after losing the Ryder Cup in 2002, 2004 and 2006. Ironically, a US win in two weeks time is required to reform, and indeed develop, the European game.
Interview with Phil “The Power” Taylor | We preview the Ryder Cup | Champions League Analysis
UCD AFC: A Season in Review UCD secured a vital 3-2 victory against St. Patrick’s Athletic last week. Andrew Collins reports on the game and analyses the Students’ season so far.
CD grabbed a crucial win against St Patrick’s Athletic that moves them level with Galway United in seventh spot after they made the most of a favourable wind in the second half. The goals were provided by David McMillan, Ciaran Kilduff and Greg Bolger in between strikes from St. Patrick’s Danny North and Sean Stewart. The miserable conditions in the Belfield Bowl did not seem to affect performances, as both teams played some crisp, flowing football at times. UCD started promisingly and Chris Mulhall almost opened the scoring after five minutes, but his powerful effort swerved just wide. The rain worsened as the game went on, but the slippery conditions didn’t influence St. Pat’s swift passing game. A magnificent Danny North strike from 25 yards put St. Pat’s ahead after 20 minutes. UCD had chances to draw the game level, but efforts from Karl Moore and Ciaran Kilduff were blocked. Pat’s almost doubled their lead when Derek Doyle was denied by a fantastic save from college keeper Billy Brennan. North’s goal proved the difference going into half-time. The Students made an inspired start to the second half, with substitute David McMillan firing a long range effort straight into the top left corner, to put the teams level after just two minutes of the second-half. UCD, now playing with a fierce wind continued to dictate the game, with Karl
Moore always looking threatening on the right wing. Kilduff deservedly put the college ahead on 66 minutes after cutting in neatly from the left and sliding the ball past Pat’s keeper Gary Rogers. The home fans, who came in great numbers despite the awful weather, were celebrating again four minutes later when Richie Winter awarded the Students a penalty after Ciaran Kilduff was bundled over carelessly by Ian Bermingham just inside the box. Bolger duly converted from the spot, sending Rogers the wrong way. At 3-1, the Students looked to be safe and Sean Stewart grabbed what was purely a consolation goal late on for Pat’s. Stewart snuck in at the back post from a corner to tap in from close range, but it was the Students who had reason to celebrate on a blustery night in Belfield. Monday night’s match could be described as a tale of two halves, a first half where UCD struggled and the second where they were very much in control. The exact opposite however, could be said of the Students’ season. After a year-long absence from the Premier Division, the initial aim for this season was top flight survival, and the Students got off to a start that exceeded even the most optimistic fan’s expectations. The highlight of UCD’s campaign had to be the 6-0 win they secured away to Bray Wanderers – a Premier Division record. The defence was looking solid, with Billy
Let the Games Begin
he NFL is the most unpredictable league in sports. There isn’t another in which a team could make the jump from going winless one year, to being a playoff side the next, as was seen from the 2007/08 Dolphins. This season sees some of the usual suspects, as well as the emergence of some new contenders, kick-off their season with high hopes of hoisting the Lombardi trophy in February. The New Orleans Saints will look to repeat last year’s success and the early signs are good. Drew Brees has passed for over 4,000 yards in each of his four seasons under centre with coach Sean Payton and the Saints. He is expected to continue the trend this
year. If he does, the Saints have no reason to miss the playoffs, having finally addressed the defensive problems that haunted Payton’s first three years as head coach. But Brees is not the only gunslinger in the NFC with high hopes. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have more than enough talent to go all the way, although the season-ending injury suffered by Ryan Grant on the opening weekend might hinder their chances. Green Bay is, however, a pass-first team. With a career passer rating of 98.5 as a starter, Rodgers has shown the poise and leadership that Mike McCarthy hoped he would have when he traded Brett Favre to the Jets in 2008. The Packers defence is in its second year in the 3-4 system and is a lot better than last year’s 51-45 Wildcard play-off
UCD will be hoping for a strong finish to the season to avoid the relegation heartbreak they endured in 2008. Brennan keeping nine clean sheets in his first 13 games, while Ciaran Kilduff and David McMillan were providing the goals at the other end. This positive start had UCD in a comfortable position at the June break and relegation no longer seemed a concern. Unfortunately for the Students, their fortunes began to change after the break. Exiting both the Ford FAI Cup and Leinster Senior Cup at the hands of lowly Bray was disappointing, and things also began to go awry on the league front. Two four-game losing streaks and only one win in 13 games have thrown UCD back into the relegation dogfight, and they are
now battling it out with Galway United for the coveted seventh position that will ensure they stay up. The return of David McMillan from injury and the arrival of former Manchester City midfielder Karl Moore could give the UCD the boost they need to regain their early season form. However, the team’s defence must be addressed – the Students have only managed one clean sheet in the last 22 games. Ciaran Kilduff’s goalscoring abilities nearly earned him a place in the Airtricity XI squad against Manchester United in August. Greg Bolger has also been a key player for the college all season and fully merits
his place on the Ireland U23 squad. As we approach the end of the season, UCD know that they will need to be at the top of their game for the last six matches. Important fixtures include visits to onform Bray Wanderers and seventh spot contenders Galway United, both of which are must-win matches if automatic safety is to be achieved. College fans will be hoping that Monday’s surprise win will be the driving force that keeps UCD in the top flight for another season.
It’s that time of year again. Watch as the USA goes nuts with the arrival of the eagerly awaited hard-hitting razzle-dazzle of the NFL, writes Kevin Beirne game loss to the Arizona Cardinals suggests. Favre is now with the Packers’ NFC-North rivals, the Minnesota Vikings, and hopes
“Favre is now with the Packers’ NFC-North rivals, the Minnesota Vikings, and hopes that he can continue to evade Father Time and lead the Vikings to a Superbowl”
that he can continue to evade Father Time and lead the Vikings to a Superbowl. They are a team with plenty of weapons on defence, but with a big question mark at quarterback and wide-reciever. Should Favre go down, which is highly likely considering he will be turning 41 next month, they would have to rely on Tavaris Jackson. Adrian Peterson and the defence would have to carry the team – much like the 2000 Ravens did with Trent Dilfer at quarterback. However, it would be difficult to see the Vikings pull off a defence heavy campaign to the Super Bowl as they simply do not have enough talent. Much like their 2000 Super Bowl winning team, the Baltimore Ravens boast a solid defence and have greatly improved their of-
fence. They have made some great moves in the off-season and retained key players. Star linebacker, Ray Lewis, has recaptured his form – despite entering the autumn of his career – and will hope to lead his team all the way once again. Joe Flacco had an impressive rookie season and he can only get better with wide-recievers Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh being added to the roster. The 2010 season has already kicked off, but we have a long way to go before we know who will be in Dallas on 6th February. The first uncapped season in years promises to throw up some surprises. So get ready for a season of screaming at your TV and secondguessing coaches, because the NFL is finally back.