THE ANTI-POLL TAX UNIONS: LESSONS IN COMMUNITY ORGANISING

By Niahl Hubbard

When activists look back to the movement that arose to challenge the introduction of the Poll Tax, they will see it as one of ordinary people taking on the establishment and coming out victorious. Whilst the rioting in Trafalgar Square and similar confrontations between police and protestors often takes centre stage in our collective memory of this period, there is the risk of overlooking the grassroots and community led resistance that fought every step of the way during the Poll Tax’s introduction – the resistance of the Anti-Poll Tax Unions.

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NEW TOWNS TO POOR DOORS: SOCIAL HOUSING OVER THE DECADES

macbean street project proposal
by Kasper Hassett

To most people, thinking of social housing might typically invoke one of two images: kids weaving big-wheeled bikes between identical high rises; or post-war ‘new town’ developments, which historically placed workers and their families in entirely new communities in industrial areas. These possibilities may ring true for some people’s lived experiences, but with the decline of new social housing developments at a time when they are needed most, the few new properties being released to social housing tenants are often nestled among more expensive housing only available to more affluent residents, in ways which alienate the poor. In fact, social housing now is so far removed from dominant expectations of cohesive, mono-class communities that it is hard to spot.

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PRESUMED KNOWLEDGE AND IMPOSTER SYNDROME IN HIGHER EDUCATION

By Kasper Hassett

Last week, as I walked past my housemate’s room, I overheard her in an online meeting with her dissertation supervisor. ‘My uncle’s a lecturer in the same topic,’ she said, ‘so he can help me with that.’ At the time, I marvelled at how convenient that must be. But then, I started to think about how frequently I see this: middle class students aided by family or family friends in their studies, often receiving a great deal of support and extra resources. Are there any instances, I wondered, where I as a working class student have benefitted educationally from family connections?

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CRIMINALISING TRESPASS, PART TWO: OUR RIGHT TO ROAM

by Yali Banton-Heath and Tesni Clare

As part one of this series warned, the Conservative government are pushing to make trespass a criminal offence, rather than a civil one. This iron-fisted extension of the long arm of the law would not only endanger – and indeed criminalise – certain groups and their ways of life, but it would also serve to stifle our collective sense of curiosity and affinity with the natural world which surrounds us. It has the potential to jeopardise our age-old freedom to roam.

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HISTORY, SPOKEN – THE VALUE OF DIALECT

By Kasper Hassett

In my earliest years, my great-grandmother used to sit with me in her bungalow, a low-roofed gloomy building with carpets like moss, to tell me I was the ‘best boy in the wewd’. I believed her, of course – she made fantastic cheese on toast and gave me ice pops (‘lolly ices’ to her) out of love. She was family. I took her words as law; I would recite everything I heard her say back to my mother when I was dropped off at our flat. But, rather than approval, I was met with correction – not of the message, but the delivery.

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LAST PICKINGS AND LOST GRADES FOR BTEC STUDENTS

unequal ofqual education
by Kasper Hassett

After the government’s U-turn on GCSE and A-level moderation, widespread celebration has broken out among student and teaching communities alike. But, drowned out by the cheering, a yet unsolved problem remains: the injustice and uncertainty for those taking BTECs, who have been left behind in the race to secure places at chosen further and higher education institutions. 

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PREDICTED GRADES – THE POSTCODE LOTTERY

By Kasper Hassett

Last week, young people across Scotland reached the end of years of schooling and were presented with their final grades. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, these results were based not on a summer exam series, but on predicted grades from teachers and subsequent moderation by examining bodies. As many as a quarter of grades were lowered, hitting working-class pupils in poorer regions and schools the hardest. Further south, A level and GCSE students are still awaiting similarly-calculated results, due for release on the 13th and 20th of August respectively. But, with individual pupils’ futures at the mercy of wildly varying school averages, the most disadvantaged students are facing even more barriers to higher education.

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A SMALL HOLE, SLIGHTLY CHARRED: CLOTHING AND CLASS IN THE SECRET HISTORY

By Vyvyan René

‘I was still standing. I’m shot, I thought, I’m shot. I reached down and touched my stomach. Blood. There was a small hole, slightly charred, in my white shirt: my Paul Smith shirt, I thought, with a pang of anguish. I’d paid a week’s salary for it in San Francisco.’

A novel preoccupied with appearances and the dark realities they can conceal, it is no wonder that clothes are a recurring theme in Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. As protagonist Richard notices the gunshot in his expensive shirt at the climax, his ‘anguish’ stems less from the injury to his physical body than to the painstakingly assembled body of signifiers he has spent the novel maintaining; a ‘small hole’ through which his history, in its imperfect secrecy, is exposed.

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ONLINE LEARNING, COVID AND CLASSISM

By Kasper Hassett

Although UK universities boast that their online teaching provision is adequate to the current crisis, deep-rooted inequalities in the class system cause the poorest students to suffer the most. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, working-class students are faced with more challenges than usual, and are also less able to access online teaching than their middle- and upper-class peers. Despite their disproportionate struggle to engage with remote teaching, universities are refusing to show leniency with deferrals and adjustments, feigning blindness to a violently unjust class system. The response of universities to this pandemic is insufficient at best, and places those students facing hardship at an even further disadvantage.

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STUDENTS’ UNIONS WILL ALWAYS BE POLITICAL

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By Robyn Banks

Over the last few weeks, UEA Students’ Union has received a number of comments from certain students on social media, complaining about it being ‘political’ and choosing to take political actions such as organising boycotts and funding students to travel to rallies. The SU is also being accused of acting undemocratically for taking these actions. Whilst these accusations are nothing new, in these recent cases the accusers are creating an obscure binary on what the SU can and can’t be seen doing, with a particular focus on only serving certain students’ needs.

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