Lewis Martin

Student section writer

Lewis is a third year UEA but second year Politics and International Relations student who can be found reading Marx, drinking coffee and working out how he’s once again quadruple booked himself. He also works with the UEA young greens, People and Planet, NACHoS and any left wing campus group.

Articles:

(03.07.18) – Recycling Lies: Trump, Migrant Families and the Media

Two weeks ago, Donald Trump signed an executive order bringing an end to the separation of undocumented migrant children from their parents. This was widely reported in the mainstream press as a win for those had publicly campaigned against this policy. But just saying that doesn’t make it so. The executive order did bring an end to the separation of children from their parents, but there has been no commitment to reuniting the families already separated. Children previously taken from their parents are being kept in camps in the Texan desert, while families crossing the border since the executive order are being transferred to ICE ‘Family Detention Centres’, which have extremely limited capacity. Whilst this was picked up by smaller media outlets and on social media, many in the mainstream press didn’t acknowledge these complications, focusing only on the initial ‘win’.

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(12.06.18) – Why Lush Are Right To Condemn Spy Cops

Last week Lush launched their #SpyCops campaign, aiming to raise awareness of the recent spy cops scandal. Since 2010, activists have been coming forward with stories of police officers infiltrating activist networks and living out fake lives that often involved having relationships with real members of these networks. The police have used officers’ testimony from within these relationships to build evidence against these groups. This experience has been extremely traumatic for the activists involved.

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(30.05.18) – A Co-operative Future For Students – Beyond Tuition Fees #9

Up and down the UK, from Edinburgh to Brighton, students are building alternatives to existing, exploitative housing and food practices. How? By creating co-operatives! These alternative ways of organising are expanding and flourishing at a rate never seen before, as students look to take their lives into their own hands, in defiance of the rising cost of living and exploitative landlords and businesses. The founding of Student Co-operative Homes, a launch pad organisation for potential student housing co-ops across the UK founded by the grassroots network Students for Co-operation and supported by national co-op federation Co-Ops UK, demonstrates the growing support for these independent, democratic projects.

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(26.05.18) – Kneeling is No Longer a Choice

The NFL’s anthem controversy has been rumbling on for a long time. It started in 2016 with San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick deciding to  sit for the national anthem during preseason games. This eventually changed to kneeling after a conversation with former soldier and player Nate Boyer about he best way to protest during the anthem. This carried on for the rest of the season with players from across the league joining him in his protest against the treatment of people of color in the United States. At the end of the season, Kaepernick was released from his contract with the 49ers as they looked to rebuild the franchise afresh.

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(11.05.18) – Review: Scratch It! at Norwich Arts Centre

On Sunday 6th May I attended Scratch It! hosted by Hack Theatre at the Norwich Arts Centre. Aimed at attracting new writers and ongoing projects, the evening looks to give a platform to work that is happening in the area so it can be developed and flourish. The arts varied across the evening, ranging from comedy to drama and using different styles and formats.

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(13.04.18) – A Truly Radical NUS – Beyond Tuition Fees #2

Over the last year the NUS has been a shadow of its former self, riddled with accusations of bullying from its President and marked by its failure to engage with the largest upswelling of campus activism this country has seen in years. It was bizarre enough that it refused to back demonstrations for Free Education last year, implying a denial that the end of tuition fees would be a benefit for students. But that pales in comparison to the extraordinary lack of NUS involvement in the recent UCU strikes. While its members joined the picket lines and entered occupation up and down the country, NUS chose to stay silent when our academic staff most needed their support. Instead it has focused its attention on single-use plastics and votes at 16 campaigns, an arch demonstration of the shift from the radical routes of the organisation to the more centrist, liberal place it currently holds. It is very telling that its recent National Conference saw delegates resort to direct action in order to try and break through the bureaucracy and filibustering that is currently rife within the organisation.

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(20.02.18) – Not as Simple as R/A/G – The Freedom of Speech Uni Rankings 2018

This month, Spiked launched their newest Freedom of Speech University Rankings for 2018. The fourth edition of the rankings, which started in 2015, are an ‘assessment’ of freedom of speech on our campuses. Spiked’s methodology is simplistic. They look at the policies and actions of both universities and their students’ unions (SUs), ranging from the no-platforming of controversial speakers to their codes of conduct. They then give each uni and each SU a rank of red, amber or green, and give an overall ranking to each institution based on these two scores.

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(04.02.18) – “Too Cold To Concentrate” – The State of Student Homes in 2018

Last week, NUS released the 2018 edition of their ‘Homes Fit For Study’ report on the state of student housing in the UK. Whilst the findings aren’t overly surprisingly, they still present the stark realities of the standard of housing that students have to face. The report demonstrates the effect that poor housing can have on mental health and wellbeing – one student reported that “Sometimes in bed when it’s bitterly cold we all feel like crying…” and another even said that her housing was so cold she caught pneumonia. In a society where the focus is on growing private capital, the health of tenants often comes second.

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(19.01.18) – Fees, Free Speech and Filibustering – A Brief History of Sam Gyimah MP

Here’s a sentence I’ve wanted to write for some time: Jo Johnson is no longer the Universities minister. Last week Theresa May ‘promoted’ him to the transport office and made him the new minister for London. His removal came just days after Toby Young was forced to resign from the Office for Students (OfS) board, in part due to his link to a eugenics conference held at UCL.

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(05.01.18) – Something Stinks in the Office for Students (and it’s Not Just Toby Young)

This week, the government took the turn of the year as an opportunity to quietly announce the makeup of the board of the Office for Students (OfS), the new higher education ‘market regulator’ set to replace the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Naturally, it didn’t go unnoticed, and much has been said about the selection of Toby Young, infamous Tory party supporter. His appointment and the makeup of the rest of the board shows the absurdity at the heart of the body Jo Johnson has created, and why it will struggle to be taken seriously.

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(22.12.17) – “More Powerful Than Landlords Can Possibly Imagine” – The Sussex Rent Strike

Last week, students living in accommodation at the University of Sussex staged a rent strike, and successfully achieved their goals in the space of three days. The university has capitulated and agreed to £65,000 of compensation for the students who live in the halls due to the appalling state they are currently in.

(8.12.17) – UEA: Banking On Immorality

If it’s not one thing it’s another with UEA. Weeks after their announcement that they’ve finally divested from fossil fuel companies, People and Planet UEA have discovered that the university has nearly £23 million invested with Barclays Bank. This won’t be particularly surprising to most – there is a branch on campus after all – but it shows the university’s ongoing decision to disregard the unfolding environmental and ethical situation of the world it operates in.

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(24.11.17) – EDUCATION’S SUCH A MESS, BUT WHERE THE FUCK IS NUS?

Last week students from around the UK marched through London to pressure the government into finally delivering free education. The march has become a yearly spectacle and a symbol of the importance of direct action to the student movement. This year however, the National Union of Students decided not to back the demo, claiming that putting more energy into lobbying will have a greater impact than this direct action could. This shift of attitude isn’t just found in the higher ranks of NUS; it is also becoming commonplace in more and more student unions across the country.

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(10.11.17) – UEA: Fossil Free At Last

I can’t quite believe I’m writing this, but after 4 long years of campaigning, UEA has finally divested from fossil fuels. People and Planet UEA received the following statement from the University yesterday:

“Over the past 50 years UEA’s researchers have played a leading role globally in developing the science and understanding of climate change and links with carbon emissions. The University remains committed to reducing its own carbon emissions and is investing £6.5million to reduce our carbon footprint from 23,000 tonnes to 12,800 tonnes by 2020. We can confirm that UEA does not have any investments in fossil fuel companies.”

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(27.10.17) – Trading Freedoms – The Office for Students Proposals

CW: mentions transphobia

Universities must bring back freedom of speech!’ That was the premise of various headlines surrounding Jo Johnson’s announcement last week of proposed powers for the Office for Students (OfS). One of those proposals is that universities and student unions that don’t conform to Johnson and the OfS’ concept of ‘freedom of speech’ could receive sanctions in the form of fines. While the powers of OfS are still only at the consultation stage, this announcement gives us a rather concerning insight into the plans and aims that Johnson has for the newly formed office.

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(13.10.17) – Why Lord Adonis Is Wrong About Polytechnics

This week, former education minister Lord Adonis decided to reopen a debate that was seemingly long-dead. During a report to a House of Lords Committee, he stated that the decision to allow polytechnics to become universities 25 years ago was “a very serious mistake”. This problematic claim reveals the real views of someone who has lately been seen as posing significant challenges of the higher education sector’s issues.

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(29.09.17) – Shifting the Spotlight in the VC Pay Debate

Throughout the summer the debate around vice chancellor pay has continued to play out. Government and media figures have joined students in their long standing expression of outrage at absurd rates of pay, whilst the VCs themselves have come out to defended their salaries, some with a remarkable lack of self-awareness. Oxford VC Louise Richardson recently joined the fray with this startlingly uncaring remark: “My own salary is £350,000. That’s a very high salary compared to our academics who I think are, junior academics especially, very lowly paid.”

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(15.09.17) – Blinded By Ideology – Two Year Degrees Revisited

Back in March, the MinoriTory government announced the idea of running fast track two year degree courses in the hope of saving students money. Last week the Times Higher Education supplement revealed that surveyed students from lower socio-economic backgrounds would be more likely to take this option up if it existed. Could the Tories’ apparently hare-brained scheme in fact be justified?

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(01.09.17) – International Students: Not Just Numbers

Last week, yet another of Theresa May’s lies was revealed: the number of international students staying in the UK after their visas expire isn’t anywhere near as high as she has frequently claimed. The idea that international students frequently stay in this country illegally was a touchstone of her policy whilst she sat as the Home Office Minister and has continually been backed up by her cabinet colleagues, including her successor to that ministry Amber Rudd.

However, on Thursday 24th August, the Office for National Statistics released new migration data showing that only 4600 international students have overstayed their visas. Not quite the hundreds of thousands that May, Rudd et al keep harping on about.

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(19.08.17) – Putting a Price on Disability

Last semester at University I was diagnosed as suffering from learning disabilities (Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs)). Whilst the diagnoses of having ADHD, Dyspraxia and Dysgraphia didn’t come to much of a shock to me the fact that I then had to pay £100 in order to be diagnosed did.

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(04.08.17) – The Right Are Running Scared – A Response To Tom Welsh

In the midst of right-wing confusion about Jeremy Corbyn’s continuing support amongst the young, following a supposed u-turn on his flagship policy to scrap student debt, Tom Welsh of the Telegraph has unveiled a new thesis: the left will continue its resurgence so long as too many go to university. His argument is as ridiculous as the title makes it sound, and his article is full of claims that are absurd, patronising and completely unsupported.

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(21.07.17) – Why The Tories Don’t Care About Nurses

Last week we heard that the number of people applying to become nursing students has fallen by 19% in the past year. As this is the first application cycle since government cuts to NHS bursaries, for many this will not be much of a shock. It’s clear that the government’s decision to take away this provision that allowed many students to attend their courses will have serious detrimental effects, not only for the institutions that train nurses but for the NHS as a whole.

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(07.07.17) – Jo Johnson Is Right For Once – Southampton Uni Should Be Ashamed

Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I agree with Jo Johnson. A couple of weeks ago the Tory Universities Minister told university leaders and Vice Chancellors that they needed to “stop ratcheting up pay”. This was a reaction to the news that the VC at Southampton University has received a £125,000 pay rise in the space of 5 years.

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(23.06.17) – Debt Rising – How Tuition Fees Are Killing Universities

Last week it was announced that the total student debt in the UK has reached over £100 billion for the first time. Whilst this milestone was inevitable, it is nonetheless an indictment of the current government’s claim that it is easy and convenient for students to pay off their debt under the post-2010 system.

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(16.06.17) – Grenfell & Britain’s Social Housing Crisis

I grew up in social housing. The estate I lived in was spilt between those who were lucky enough to own their house and those who relied upon housing associations to provide accommodation for them. The latter group, which includes my family, found that their houses were painted an obnoxiously bright yellow, for no other reason than to make those houses easily identifiable to the housing association and the rest of the neighbours. It was a big bright mark to ensure it was known that you lived in social housing.

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(09.06.17) – Elitism Refuses to Die – The University Funding Problem

Last month, Freddie DeBoer wrote about the failure of the university system in the United States to equally fund different institutions across the country. Looking specifically at Connecticut, DeBoer shows how Yale, one of the prestigious Ivy League universities, fuels social inequality by receiving public funds as well as other sources for revenue whilst other, more accessible community colleges are “cut to the bone”.

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(26.05.17) – Vote Progressive, Vote For Our Future – Students and the Election #4

There is a lot of fear about the morning of June 9th. Will we wake up to a Tory super-majority that will see them stay in charge for the next 15 years? To a renewed age of cuts that hurt the poorest and most vulnerable in society, that disembowel the education system from primary to higher, and that destroy the environmental protections (or ‘Green Crap’) that will ensure that we have a safer and more secure future for our world? Or will the sun rise on something else? With the polls getting closer and closer, a miraculous Labour Party win isn’t off the table just yet.

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(12.05.17) – UEA Closes Counselling Programme

On the 25th of April, Professor Richard Andrews, the head of the School of Education and Life Long Learning (EDU) at UEA, announced the closure of the university’s counselling programme. This means that all courses surrounding the subject of counselling, including a PG diploma and an MA, will no longer be taught at UEA as of the beginning of the 2018 academic year. Andrews described this as a ‘difficult decision’ resulting from ‘low demand for the course’. This closure is especially significant, not only to UEA but to the wider Norwich and Norfolk area.

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(14.04.17) – Price Hikes and Rent Strikes – Solving the UEA Accommodation Crisis

Whist chatting to a friend last week I found myself looking at the price of accommodation at UEA for the next academic year. I found that the prices are set to rise yet again, with the price of the most expensive undergraduate accommodation reaching over £5800 a year, or £153.30 per week if you want your shocks in smaller weekly doses rather than one big lump.

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(31.03.17) – Oxford’s Publicity Stunt Won’t Close The University Class Gap

This month Oxford University, in conjunction with the Sutton Trust, launched a summer school aimed at attracting more “white, working class boys” to the university. While this has received praise from some sectors of society, it does not address the real reasons why working class people (not just boys or men) are not attending universities like Oxford.

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(17.03.17) – ‘I Feel Like I’m Non-Existent’ – The Life of Mature Students

Imagine a mature student.

I’m guessing many of you are picturing someone middle aged, married with two to three grown up children, who can now afford to go back to university to get the career change they’ve always wanted but couldn’t get when they were growing up. This stereotypical view of mature students has a detrimental effect on the Mature Student community.

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(03.03.17) – Quicker Isn’t Better – Profit Before Health in Two Year Degrees

Last week the government announced plans to allow students to complete an undergraduate degree within two years instead of the usual three. To facilitate this fast-track system, universities will be permitted to charge £13,000 a year in tuition fees for these courses. As many have already noted, it’s easy to see what this announcement really is: another step in the marketisation of higher education. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt described it as ‘another misguided attempt to allow for-profit colleges access to UK higher education.’ The government have become less and less tactless when it comes to putting profit before the education of students.

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(17.02.17) – Not Your Fucking Bargaining Chip

Last week, 322 MPs voted against an amendment that would have assured the rights of the three million European migrants that live in the UK to remain here after Brexit. Of these three million people, roughly 6 percent are EU students. And for a majority of those, these are times of uncertainty and anxiety. Those 322 MPs, including three from Labour, have sent a clear message to EU students who want to remain in this country: you are just bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations over the next two years.

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(03.02.17) – Don’t Be Fooled by the Royal Illusion – The Failings of UEA

As you’ve probably heard, the Queen visited the UEA last week. The visit quickly became the biggest marketing opportunity that UEA has seen in many years. Tourists, students and local residents turned up to feel the buzz of the monarch’s presence on campus, and UEA jumped at the chance to publicise all the ‘amazing’ work it’s doing.

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(25.11.16) – Not so Green – UEA in the University Green League

This week saw People and Planet’s annual University League table released. For some universities this has been a cause for celebration – Nottingham Trent, for example, have climbed to the top of the table. However, for UEA and its students the league’s findings should be a cause for concern. Since last year Norwich’s biggest university has dropped 14 places from 34 to 48 in the table, losing 13 points in the process. This is the inevitable result of the way the university has behaved in the last year with regards to various environmental issues

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(19.08.16) – NUS Joins the Fight and Backs Rent Strikes

It was announced yesterday under the cloud of A-level results that the National Union of Students (NUS) has given full backing to the rent strikes that have been happening at numerous universities up and down the country. Their reasoning behind this is that due to the rise of living in university housing on campus or other university owned places, it has almost become a secondary set of fees on top of the already high tuition fees.

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