ACADEMIC FREEDOM OR INSTITUTIONALISED TRANSPHOBIA?

By Lewis Martin

Once again, an array of academics have signed a letter complaining about the increased efforts by universities to recognise and support Trans* and Non-Binary students on their campuses. Their reasons for doing so aren’t worth exploring, as they are based on the same logic, or lack thereof, as many transphobes about the realities of gender, sex and identity. The problem we should focus on is that the academics who have signed this letter, and the ones before it, hide behind the claim of ‘Academic Freedom’ in order to try and justify their views.Continue Reading

AT THE FRONT LINE: SOLAR POWER FOR SILVER ROAD

by Colin Hynson and Matthew White

Four years ago, on the north side of Norwich, a new community centre came into life. Before that the Silver Rooms had been owned and run by Norfolk County Council as a drop-in centre for local older residents. In 2010 Norfolk County Council announced that it was selling off the building as a response to cuts imposed by the coalition government. A group of local people fought back determined that the building should carry on benefiting the local community. In 2012, the building became an Asset of Community Value (later used in the campaign to save the Owl Sanctuary). Norfolk County Council then abandoned the auction and said that the building could be run for the benefit of the community and the rooms were leased to the community for 25 years for a peppercorn rent of £1.00 a year.Continue Reading

SHAME ON SOAS – OCCUPIERS PROTEST TREATMENT OF CATERING STAFF

By SOAS Justice for Workers

Yesterday, on the 8th anniversary of the deportation of 9 SOAS cleaners, students of SOAS began an occupation of the Directorate on the Main Building first floor. We are taking direct action in resistance to the planned shut down of the refectory and outrageous threats made by management to the livelihoods of members of our community. We stand in solidarity with the catering staff, and all the exploited workers of SOAS, in their fight for dignity and respect.

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THE UK POSTGRADUATE STUDY CRISIS MUST END

by Bradley Allsop

Postgraduate study and research is a vital part of the higher education sector and yet in the UK it is in crisis, riddled with multiple, endemic problems.

Firstly, there are systemic problems with postgraduate study in terms of who even gets through the door. Research has shown that, graduates who are women, from certain ethnic minority groups or from lower socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to go on to study at postgraduate level. This is a social injustice in itself, and raises serious questions about the cultures and systems that exist within both academia and society more generally, but it is also to the detriment of academia: academia thrives on diversity.Continue Reading

HIJACKING STUDENT POWER – WHY THE NUS GOVERNANCE REVIEW MATTERS

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by Cherry Somersby

On the last day of NUS National Conference, an extensive governance review was passed amid confusion and accusations of political bias from NUS’ Democratic Procedures Committee. The review was comprised of four sections, each relating to four ‘principles for a good democracy’, and in total, sixteen amendments were submitted by delegates, many of which contained fundamental changes to the vision that the review had set out.

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PRICE HIKES AND RENT STRIKES – SOLVING THE UEA ACCOMMODATION CRISIS

By Lewis Martin

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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INSULT & INJURY – THE STUDENT LETTINGS RIPOFF

By Alex Powell

In 2014, the NUS reported that three quarters of students had suffered issues with privately rented accommodation. Such a high proportion is indicative of an endemic problem within the private rental market, a problem that disproportionately impacts students. Since the publication of this report, the problem has only gotten worse, as inflationary pressures have pushed up the price of rents while student loans have remained stagnant. Students now face more issues with finding decent housing than ever before, and many are left living in less than ideal conditions, to say the least.

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NOT YOUR FUCKING BARGAINING CHIP

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by Lewis Martin

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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BLACK STUDENTS’ CONFERENCE 2016

by Julian Ignacio Canlas

On May 28-29th, the Black Students Conference happened in Bradford, where black student delegates across the country congregated together in the conference hall of Bradford Hotel.

We listened to BME activists and journalists discuss about their own experience of oppression, institutional racism, and the hard, arduous path that led to Malia Bouattia’s victory as the first black female president-elect of the NUS. This included renowned journalist Gary Younge, who delved upon the progression of black activism and condemned the forms of racism existing in right and leftwing media. Younge later received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

We went through rounds of motions and amendments. We voted for our new committee members, including the Black Students Officer, now Aadam Muse. Most contentiously, we debated about political blackness and its relevancy or outdatedness within the movement’s campaign structure.Continue Reading

THANKS JEREMY, BUT I DON’T WANT YOUR SYMPATHY

by Finn Northrop

Trigger warning: Rape, sexual assault and domestic violence

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, and each year this presents a fantastic opportunity for huge numbers of committed activists to not only raise awareness of a variety of mental health conditions but also to promote self-care and self-help methods, and to give people the bravery to seek help – whether that means reaching out to close friends or taking to the step of going to their GPs and seeing what services are available to them.Continue Reading

DETENTION CENTRES AND THE STUDENT MOVEMENT

by Sahaya James

Harmondsworth detention centre, near Heathrow, is set in an anonymous business park. You can only tell it’s a detention centre because of the barbed wire.

Campsfield detention centre, near Oxford, is accessible by a nondescript turning on a nondescript a-road. The whole site is ringed by a line of trees.

Yarl’s Wood, however, is even more hidden than the rest. It sits hundreds of meters back from the road, behind a double layer of fencing, miles and miles out into the Bedfordshire countryside.

It is, essentially, a prison. Like every detention centre, it doesn’t contain people accused and convicted of crimes — it contains people without UK passports. Specifically, Yarlswood contains women and children.Continue Reading

WE ALL LOVE STUDENT ELECTIONS!

by Sam Naylor

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?

Without diminishing the achievements of candidates, student elections are in part a glorified popularity contest. Policies are an important aspect of the elections, but people play a much larger part of the parcel. You know how it is — voting for friends, or friends of friends or that girl that you met at a house party once and she kind of seemed like a decent human being. I can’t see a way for this to move beyond the realm of people politics or the ‘Union Bubble’ with its internal divisions and machinations.Continue Reading