BUS W@NKERS

by Matthew John White

I doubt that the brilliant gross-out teen comedy The Inbetweeners invented the term ‘bus wankers’, but it certainly dragged it into popular culture. In Series 2, Episode 4, which first aired in 2009, arch gross-merchant Jay shouts the insult in question from the window of a moving car. The phrase is now firmly mainstream. You’ll often see it in social media comments: “my car’s at the garage so I’m being a bus wanker today”, or “can’t wait to pass my driving test so i can stop being a bus wanker”. A Facebook group named ‘bus wankers!‘ is liked by 93 thousand people.

Derision of bus users isn’t always achieved with this phrase, of course. Just the other day, while discussing a trip to London over a pub garden pint, a friend of a friend loudly asked “Who over the age of 30 gets a bus?”, accidentally (I hope!) paraphrasing an apocryphal Thatcher quote in the process. Yet ‘bus wankers’ has become the standard, convenient, go-to expression for such mockery.Continue Reading

CRITICISMS OF USAID’S LEGAL AID TOOLKIT IN MYANMAR

by Yali Banton Heath

Myanmar is a country under the spotlight at the moment. Human rights abuses, allegations of ethnic cleansing, economic development and foreign investment, and piss poor freedom of speech are among many controversial issues which cast shadows in today’s political discussions. On the ground, such issues require adequate legal aid, but Myanmar’s judicial system has been in tatters for decades.Continue Reading

“MORE POWERFUL THAN LANDLORDS CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE” – THE SUSSEX RENT STRIKE

by Lewis Martin

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.

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HIGHER EDUCATION’S EXPANSION PROBLEM

by Alex Powell

The number of students starting at UK universities has increased dramatically in recent years, despite a slight fall recorded this year, and is set to go on increasing as universities increase their intake. The government has heralded this as an example of the increasing availability of higher education to students coming from working class communities. However, we have to ask what impact the increase in student numbers is having on the quality of education provided by universities.

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ALTERNATIVE ARTS EDUCATION – A BRIEF HISTORY

by Laura Potts

Education is amazing. It encourages the growth of passion for any number of subjects, and opens doors for many to enter into the field that that passion leads them towards, where their research work is often vital to the discovery of all sorts of new and exciting things.

However, the modern system that has emerged as society has ‘advanced’ does not always prioritise the curiosity and growth that education cultivates over more material concerns such as financial gain. The increases in the various fees and costs associated with higher educational institutions and the shrinking of the creative curriculum at earlier levels often means that a passion for a subject is no longer enough. But as with any monolithic trend, alternatives have sprung up down the years.

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THE UNDERCROFT – ART, SPACE AND POWER

by Laura Potts

Artistic culture and practice has changed drastically over the past few centuries. From Renaissance painting and its high-minded focus on aesthetic and documentary purpose, to the eruption of absurdist Dada work in 1915, to the stark political statements of much modern art. The aesthetics of art and its chosen themes are not the only thing that has changed though; the spaces where we encounter art have also transformed.

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THE TUITION FEE FREEZE – TOO LITTLE TOO LATE

by Laura Potts

As the country continues to languish in the grasp of a Conservative government, and the shadows of brexit and the snap election continue to lengthen, many are left questioning the political standing of this country’s future. This year’s extraordinary general election has made many people feel alienated from their government, especially among the younger generation. Hardly surprising, as the ultimate outcome reflected the voting preferences of their elders, with 58% of 60-69 yr old’s voting conservative while 62% of 20-24 year olds voted labour.

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THE RIGHT ARE RUNNING SCARED – A RESPONSE TO TOM WELSH

by Lewis Martin

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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REVIVING CAMPUS ACTIVISM – A ROADMAP

by Bradley Allsop

We live in turbulent times. The political establishment has been rocked again and again this last year. The government is embattled in a way it hasn’t been for 7 years and that rarest of things in British politics, change, is peeking its head above the parapet. What’s more, for the first time in my lifetime, it seems my generation is willing to be an active participant in all this. June’s election saw the highest rise in youth turnout in British political history – it reached its highest absolute level since 1992. It falls to those of us already engaged to fan this flame and help it spread beyond the ballot box, building the political courage and competencies of our fellows. Nowhere offers a better opportunity for us to do this than on university campuses.

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WHO DESERVES TEF GOLD? AND DOES IT MATTER?

by Laura Potts

Last week, the first set of Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) rankings were released for 2017. The TEF is fairly complicated and students are rarely informed of how it works, or the possible implications it holds for the future of education. In short, it is a framework of metrics or measures introduced by the Tory government, ostensibly to assess teaching in higher education institutions in England. These metrics categorise two areas: student satisfaction and graduate earnings / employability. A lot of the data comes from the National Student Survey that final year students are often pressured to take part in. This years’ rankings gave some unexpected results for some of the UK’s most prestigious institutes, with many not doing as well as expected – only 8 of the 21 elite Russell Group universities were awarded ‘Gold’. This suggests that we should be cautious about taking the TEF results as accurate representations of institutions.

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WILL UEA DO WHAT’S RIGHT FOR PHD ASSOCIATE TUTORS?

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by Maddie Colledge, UEA SU Postgraduate Education Officer

Following a steady drip of complaints to the SU in recent years, the Postgraduate Committee have this year steered me to focus my efforts on launching research into the experience of our PhD Associate Tutors (ATs). We already knew some of the issues that our ATs face and had brought them to the University’s attention, but in light of little change since then, it seemed a full review was needed. Following the publication of that review, I’d like to share our findings with you as well as our plans for the future (the full report can be found here).

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THE LEFT HAS DEFIED THE ODDS. NOW WE NEED TO SHAPE HISTORY.

by Bradley Allsop

For the third time in a year an earthquake has rocked the political establishment, upsetting polls, pundits and precedent alike. Yet this time, unlike the division and isolation of Brexit, or the utter horror of Trump, we instead have hope. Snatching insurgence from the jaws of implosion, Labour and the broader left have risen to the edge of power. Yet whilst the election result was an excellent start, surviving the challenges our society faces will require much more. We need to build a movement which aims for nothing less than a complete transformation of our society. It is crucial now that we do not succumb to hubris or allow ourselves to be absorbed by the internal Conservative party debates – we need to use the time granted by their division to plan, organise and mobilise the movement that will transform Britain.

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ARTS IN THE AFTERMATH

by Richard Worth

We’ve just got through the new Tory annual tradition of having the nation vote on internal party issues and having the result batter the incumbent Prime Minister. And, whilst the result is somewhat bittersweet with comedy boob-patting socialist Jeremy Corbyn – aka ‘the future liberals want’ – tearing chunks out of the Conservative mandate, we are still left with a government formed of a crypto-nationalist, sexist, and regressive party and an actual nationalist, sexist, and regressive party.

The truth of the matter is that no one was sure what would happen before the election, or during it and now we’re on the other side it’s only fitting that British democracy remains chimerical, confusing and dare I say it, unstable (take that May!). As such I’d like, as I do every fortnight, to say a few words about the current position of the Arts.Continue Reading

“A VERY DIFFERENT TYPE OF POLITICS” – RESPONSE TO NUS CONFERENCE DAY 1

by Cherry Somersby

Content warning: Article mentions suicide.

The political transition we have seen in NUS over the last 12 months would have been unthinkable this time last year. The student movement has risen to the growing need for radical action this year, building groundbreaking, vital campaigns, presenting a powerful response to the many crises modern students face.

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ENVIRONMENTAL WARS: THE CORPORATE AND POLITICAL WAR ON NATURE

by Gunnar Eigener

The Republican Party’s war on the environment has begun in earnest.

The US Army Corps of Engineers have approved the final easement to complete the Dakota Pipe Line (DAPL). The Keystone XL Pipeline has also been approved. Republican senators have introduced a bill to disband the Environmental Protection Agency. The Stream Protection Rule has been repealed using the Congressional Review Act. The Securities & Exchange Commissions (SEC) transparency rule has been repealed. The Interior Department methane rule is currently going through the repeal process. Trump has promised to disband the Clean Power Act and the EPA website has removed all pages relating to climate change. Trump’s America First Energy Plan neglected to mention solar energy jobs and, although the initial plan to sell of 3.3 million acres of national land has been withdrawn, proposals have been put forward to transfer federal land to state control. In the UK, the government is pushing forward with the intention to sell the Green Investment Bank and renewable energy ventures look set to slashed even more. A report by the Energy and Climate Committee has predicted that the UK will fail to meet its renewable energy targets. The closing of the Department of Energy and Climate Change led to its operations being transferred to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, casting doubt of the ability to prioritise the environment over business. Continue Reading

POVERTY LOANS: THE FORGOTTEN FIGHT?

by Alex Powell

Disclaimer: in what follows I am not suggesting that tuition fees are acceptable, nor that we should stop campaigning against further fee rises and for their complete abolition. But I think that we should put as much effort into campaigning on another, more pressing issue, which is often sidelined in the discourse around the marketisation of education. We need a maintenance loan settlement which works for all students and, crucially, higher postgraduate loans, to truly improve access to education.

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SELFIES AND SELF-PORTRAITS

by Jess Howard

After finding myself caught in a particularly upsetting example of British weather on Monday afternoon, I decided my time hiding from the rain would be best spent nosing round the Impressionist collection currently held in the Courtauld gallery. After fanning away the tears that inexplicably began to spring from my eyes as I stood in front of Édouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folie-Bergère, I stood for a while to look at Vincent Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, painted shortly after the artist removed his own right ear.

Once I had gotten over my annoyance at the people taking photos of the works around them on their smart phones, instead of just looking at them – which I’m sure could make up another article entirely – I continued to look at the painting, the first real piece of Impressionist art I think I have ever seen in person.Continue Reading

IT’S TIME TO REFORM UNION COUNCIL

by Elliot Folan

For the last 3 years, I’ve sat on the UEA Student Union Council. Council has the power to set SU policy, call referendums, mandate Officers to take political stances and actions, rewrite the SU budget and elect members of various committees. In the last year, however, it has become clear that its ability to exercise these powers – and to represent the 14,000 students that make up UEA’s student population – has been hamstrung by various issues. A handful of councillors have blamed the rules of Council, but I strongly disagree: there are only a few rules that every councillor should know, and those can fit on one side of an A4 piece of paper. The rest are all rules that the Chair and Deputy Chair should know in intense detail, and interpret and explain for the rest of the meeting.Continue Reading

DEAR STUDENTS: IT’S OK TO BE RICH

by Candice Nembhard

As someone who prides themselves on coming from a Black, working class background, I can honestly say that my attitude towards wealth, especially inherited wealth is not as big a deal as many may think. I am fully aware that an institution such as university is a privilege, which in itself brings together people of different backgrounds and different experiences in their upbringing. That in part is what makes the experience of being a student all the more interesting — being invited into a world unbeknownst to you.

In that respect, university life is a microcosm of our society: people of differing economic status and political alliances co-existing (for the most part). As I said, my attitudes to wealth are largely unaffected, but I cannot deny that I have noticed that attitudes towards wealth from students who come from a ‘privileged’ background, often come with the feeling of shame.Continue Reading

THE RIGHT TO QUALITY OF LIFE: WHY A NORWICH GRANDMA SHAVING HER HEAD

by Laura Aghassi and Lisa Mikaiel

A 76 years young Norwich Grandma is aiming to raise enough money to purchase an electric wheelchair for Reid Manson, by having her hair shaved off.  The event is taking place at the Forum on Saturday 18th June at 2 pm.

Anne Dupon, a Norwich Grandma was moved by the story of Reid, a young man in her local community, whom she met through her involvement in The Big Local (a lottery funded community project).  Reid suffers from several debilitating conditions.  He has epilepsy, fibromyalgia, M.E. (Myalgic Encephalopathy) and FND (Functional Neurological Disorder).  The FND has left him with left sided weakness and leg paralysis, equivalent to having had a stroke.Continue Reading

THE FREEDOM OF A LIBRARY

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by Rowan Whiteside

All across the country, libraries are being closed. This has been happening for years: quiet reservoirs of knowledge and fantasy disappearing from villages, towns, cities. Since David Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010, library funding has dropped by 16% and we have 549 fewer libraries.

It is difficult to really assess the impact of this. We know that visits to libraries have dropped by almost 14%, but we don’t know how many lives have been changed, how many jobs have been lost, how many children can no longer borrow something new to read. 549 libraries is an abstract figure. It sounds like a lot (because it is), but it doesn’t actually show what has been taken away. And what has been stolen is so much more than statistics can show.Continue Reading