previously a Student section writer
Culture, Literature, Politics undergraduate, whose degree is proof that he can’t make up his mind, whose satisfaction often stems from playing the devil’s advocate in debates and discussions.
(02.12.16) – #LoveSUs Day – 3 Reasons to Love UEA SU
Today, Friday 2nd December 2016, is this year’s #LoveSUs Day. It’s a time to encourage positivity and togetherness with our Students’ Unions, highlighting the impact they have on our student experiences. It comes at a time when student maintenance grants have been scrapped by the government, English university tuition fees are set to rise even further based on performance in the new ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’, and student accommodation prices are rising more rapidly than any other rates in the private rental sector. All students need an organisation that will speak for us when the government of the day is constantly ignoring our needs and actively promoting policies that are having negative impacts on our lives.
“In Britain we use our history in order to comfort us, to make us feel stronger, to remind ourselves that we were always, always deep down, good people.” That was Neil MacGregor, the former director of the British Museum, describing Britain’s à la carte style of remembering at an exhibition opening in Berlin last month. This selective remembering is dangerous in itself, and when this approach is combined with current post-truth narratives Britain’s attitude to its past becomes very chaotic. Tracey Brown has argued that “the idea of a ‘post-truth society’ is elitist and obnoxious”, with good reason. But we need not apply this notion as all-or-nothing, without subtlety. Instead, we can understand a post-truth society as one that occasionally believes in emotive language and bombastic phrases over bland yet factual statements, rather than one which has ‘had enough of experts’ entirely.
(09.09.16) – University of Kerala and Feminist Thought
From the 8 – 24th of August I attended a Generation UK – India programme. The fortnight programme was organised between the British Council and the University of Kerala, which was founded in 1937, to engage 46 British students and graduates with a taste of Contemporary India: Culture and Society. The study placement covered a lot of ground, ranging from a lecture on Indian foreign policy to visiting their ancient manuscript library, to learning the state language of Malayalam and gendering Indian popular cinema. The course’s content was as diverse as the state we were studying in and the people who attended the study trip.
(29.07.16) – Game of Loans
I’m sure there were resounding cheers from students and would be university slackers when universities across England began detailing their 2017 tuition fee rates. Some places, like the University of Manchester, have already stated that 2017 students can enjoy a mild increase to £9,250 per year of undergraduate study, whilst institutions like our local favourite UEA have been more cautious on their website assuming a 3% inflationary increase year-on-year (which is pretty much the same thing but it’s like Manchester has included a picture of the middle finger whereas UEA has written hahaha in small letters.)
(03.06.16) – Europe, Youth, and an Enduring Taste of Nationalism
On the 20th and 21st of May, myself and thirteen other students from the University of East Anglia (UEA) attended the European Youth Event (EYE) in Strasbourg. Over 7,500 young people attended the event, coming together to share ideas on how to tackle youth-related issues through interaction with European decision-makers and speakers.
Through attending plenary sessions on addressing youth unemployment and migration, to panels of Human Rights Heroes and ERASMUS+ opportunities, right the way through to pop-up-tent-style refugee meetings and anti-war talks, EYE provided a space for European youth to imagine a progressive future for the continent and its young people. Sadly, this sparked the cynic in me as the European Union is by no means a shining institution of perfection. An inner voice continued to nudge, searching for some sort of foul play; was the event just one big act to get European youth on board with the EU project? Or is it fair to view young people as more likely to push for their ideals and move away from business-as-usual politics and policies? I’d still like to believe in the latter.
(08.05.16) – Male Beauty is a Beast
Disclaimer: mentions body dysmorphia, body shaming
Type into Google images “attractive men” or “attractive male body” and see what pops up. I’ll just give you a moment to scan over some of those photos. Done? Good. In both searches a grossly disproportionate number of these men are celebrities but more importantly they’re white. Switch tabs to “attractive male body” and you are met with a sea of torsos and chests sculpted by the media gods. Chiselled jaw lines, blue or green eyes and ‘designer’ stubble appear to be just three of the ingredients to get you on your way to being an attractive male.
(08.04.16) – Batman Vs. Superman: Rehash of Injustice
Disclaimer: Filled to the brim with spoilers and undergraduate level gender studies analysis *gasp*
Just for a moment whilst sitting with phone wrapped in hand, imagine that I am a renowned film critic — tall order I know. Now picture the scene of zero-star ratings being awarded to films. I am that film critic that awards a zero rating to the backwards 50s tripe that is Batman vs Superman. As you can tell I am totally not bitter about wasting my money and time, with 153 minutes of my life being dragged out before my eyes, as I endured a steroid-induced-figurine-smacking-debacle.
Initial rant over: what I’d first like to address is the films portrayal of its female characters. Now with a film title like Batman vs Superman I was aware that the main arc of the story would revolve around these two colossuses, but I’d hoped that in 2016 we’d moved far enough away from female roles as fillers and crutches for their male onscreen co-stars.
(11.03.16) – We All Love Student Elections!
It’s over, people. Candidates and students alike will be breathing deep the post-election buzz. Well not everyone and probably not even most people. Though a record breaking year for UEA elections, still only 23% of those who could vote did — there was a total of 3404 votes. Granted this is student elections and across the country it appears engagement at this level is struggling to grab the majority’s interest but it still supposes a democratic deficit. Negativity aside for a sentence, it was great to see the highest turn out ever for the voluntary position of Ethical Issues officer. However, letting the gloom resume, the positions for mature and post-graduate students received a shockingly low turnout — only a 7% turnout for mature students and an even lower 4% turnout for post-graduate students. This begs to question: are our democratic procedures within university effective?
(12.01.16) – Dystopian futures; here today, gone tomorrow
I’ve always felt an affinity towards the sci-fi and fantasy universe and embracing all of the nerdy stereotypes that are bestowed to Trekkie and Excelsior’s alike. The out-of-this-world-experience that mediums such as superhero comics or dystopian literature can offer young people is a form of much needed escapism.
(04.12.15) – A thought on self-care this winter
The Christmas month has arrived. For some this realisation comes with a groan as materialism and capitalism grips the nation tightly, churning out ‘heartfelt’ Christmas adverts for supermarkets and the repetitious spew of songs from Christmas pasts. Though I am guilty of a deep rooted love for the festive period, where family and friends merge in the winter landscape. December is also the month for many University students where deadlines loom overhead, either intensifying the stressed-out mentality or acting as a dampener to the winter wonderland. The juggling act to keep all the tasks moving smoothly begins to experience shakes and wobbles. Now I’m not saying that being a student in the UK is the hardest life (though the scraping of maintenance grants and proposed change to nursing and midwifery tuition payments will certainly make matters much worse), but it isn’t just Netflix and takeaways either.
(23.11.15) – I am a social media zombie
A feeling of instant gratification is on the menu and I know where I rush to get my fix. For most of us social media has become a daily part of our lives. How many of us wake up in the morning and check our social media presence? It is one of those little habits that has become a fixture of my daily routine and one that we’re finding increasingly difficult to disconnect from. We’ll just scroll one more time, just click that last video, read the article from that last link. Facebook is a great way to get your opinions out to all 1,125 of your ‘closest friends’ and for you to experience theirs. It can often feel like an extension of our own thought process, that we could just post that instantaneous nugget of knowledge as a status update. In fact Facebook cares that much about what we have to say that it politely asks “What’s on your mind?”, urging us to divulge in an opinion that it oh so wants to hear. The false companionship and the sense of familiarity that social media apps give us are aspects that keep us coming back, which have me glued to virtual text on a screen rather than worrying about dialogues set in the ‘real world’. Facebook is not a substitute for our own opinions.