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.
By Lewis Martin
CW: mentions suicide.
Sometimes targeted adverts reveal to you more than you wanted to know. I’ve recently been experiencing facebook ads for Future Finance, a company that offers loans of up to £40,000 to students, with an interest rate of 17.45% APR for all the time that you’re studying. To put that in perspective, if you borrowed £7000 over 5 years, you’d have repaid a stonking £11,223 by the time you’ve paid it off. This eye watering example reveals both the current state of Higher Education financing and a frightening future that is increasingly intruding on the present.
by Kelvin Smith
In more than fifty years I have rarely been to a publishing event (a book launch, company celebration, party of any kind) that did not focus on the availability and consumption of alcoholic drinks. Likewise, the academic world nearly always includes ‘drinks’ or ‘wine’ on the announcement of seminars, conferences and academic celebrations.
As someone who has a long history of enjoying alcohol and a more recent period of several years’ total abstention, I wonder if alcohol doesn’t have a significant bearing on the current debates on inclusivity in both publishing and in universities. Both publishers and academics are now exploring what it would mean to be more inclusive – of different classes, ethnicities, cultures, nationalities, languages, genders and political views. But I have yet to hear or read much about the role alcohol plays in limiting inclusion and acceptance. Perhaps it’s time to look at this.
We the undersigned are writing to complain about the mistreatment of the university’s staff, and the fact that their mistreatment has led to such a major impact on our education. We wholeheartedly believe that the staff are the greatest asset to the university. The fact that they have been forced to take strike action shines a harsh light on the lack of care UEA’s executive and you, our Vice Chancellor, have for university staff.
Ten years ago, I was in my first year of University at Aberdeen, studying to be a Primary school teacher. It was a daunting, but exciting time. I had plans for my future and much to look forward to. I decided I wanted to be a teacher to help learners, like myself, that struggle in the education system. After achieving my degree, I planned to establish myself as a teacher before going back to University to gain the qualifications I needed to become a Special Educational Needs teacher.
I had always wanted a family and so my plan was to enjoy my early 20s, find someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, get married and have two children. A teaching career seemed like a good match with the challenges of having a family. In my mind I had it all worked out. I’d decided that by around my 30th birthday I would probably have given birth to my last child. I’m going to have my 30th birthday this year, and my life didn’t go to plan.
by Alex Powell
I’m sure you’ve all heard it at least once. ‘40% is all I need. It’s first year, it doesn’t really count for anything.’ It’s obvious, right? If the year doesn’t count towards your final degree classification, then you don’t really need to try. Right?
Content warning: mentions sexual violence, abuse, sexual harassment, rape, domestic abuse and violence
Last week saw the hashtag #MeToo achieve viral success, following the accusations multiple women made again Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein. The hashtag started when actress Alyssa Milano, tweeted “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”.
The next week, social media was bombarded with personal account of sexual harassment, abuse, rape, assault and domestic violence. Famous celebrities talked about their experiences and within 24 hours, Facebook reported that 4.7 million people engaged with the #MeToo hashtag with over 12 million posts and comments. Most of the media’s reaction has been positive – finally we are acknowledging that sexual violence is a pervasive problem rather than a few isolated incidents, they say.
by Alex Powell
Not too long ago, a series of news stories began emerging. These stories documented the fact that the government’s estimates for the number of international students who outstay their visas were greatly exaggerated. Despite this, the government has continued to push two convictions. Firstly, that it is appropriate for international students to be included within wider immigration figures, and secondly, that immigration is too high and needs to be cut. These dual premises are having a hugely detrimental impact on the experience of international students, so it is important that other students do all we can to show solidarity with our fellow students and push for changes to this policy.
by Lewis Martin
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.
by Lewis Martin
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.
by Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt
Rarely in our lifetimes has there been a more exciting time for young people to engage in politics. Change is in the air and nowhere else offers more opportunities to engage in this conversation, to learn valuable skills and to help shape society than university campuses. This series of articles seeks to offer some guidance for those aiming to ignite student activism at their institutions. Drawing on our experiences as campaigners we hope to highlight some common challenges and give you some advice on how to combat them.
The first article in this series looked at early steps of any campaign: doing your research, setting your goals, getting the message out there and beginning to grow your movement. This time we’ll be taking a look at some of the issues that occur as you begin to develop as a group.
By Alex Powell
Late last month, we saw the release of the first batch of Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) results. The TEF has been the subject of significant student opposition, with a Save the Student survey suggesting that as many as 76% of students oppose the implementation of the TEF. I was an opponent of it myself, particularly of links made between TEF scores and the ability of institutions to raise their tuition fees, though this plan has been postponed until 2020.
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.
By Lewis Martin
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.
by Lewis Buxton
Despite being called A Book of Fragments and Dreams, the poems in Rebecca McManus’ collection are far from fragmentary. They speak loudly to one another and are rooted decisively in the people, places, and objects of her life. Unthank Cameo has released this collection posthumously after Rebecca McManus was killed by a speeding driver whilst waiting at a bus stop. She was 21 and just weeks away from graduating from the University of East Anglia.
By Lewis Martin
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.
By Alex Powell
Perfectionism may seem like a fringe issue – a few of us are self-proclaimed perfectionists, but that’s just a personality trait, right? Maybe not. Issues of perfectionism have had a dramatic impact on my studies, and I have seen it increasingly manifested amongst the students around me. It is a key indicator of many other issues which students face in the modern university environment.
In response to Lewis Martin’s article ‘Don’t Be Fooled by the Royal Illusion – The Failings of UEA.’
The Queen’s recent visit to the University of East Anglia was, in my opinion, rightly celebrated as a momentous occasion in the university’s history. I might not be hugely pro-monarchy, but I am definitely pro-UEA, and I could appreciate the enthusiasm and atmosphere on campus on the day of Her Majesty’s arrival. I followed the event closely on social media and thought it brought a sense of enjoyment and happiness to a cold January day, with large a crowd turning out to celebrate not only the Queen, but the university as an institution too, which was great to see. However, I found it interesting that not everyone saw it that way.
by Lewis Martin
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.
A decade and a half into the 21st century, many believe that the metamorphosis of student into consumer is complete. The student activist and the radical student movement are consigned to history. Despite the hiccup of the anti-fees protests in 2010, the modern student is more concerned with getting their money’s worth in education than they are about changing the world.
So some would have you think. Over the two years since the first run of this series, the student movement has grown further in depth, diversity and scope. This new set of articles seeks to explore the student campaigns that are redefining our time: what they have achieved, what they mean for the student movement, and their impact on the Higher Education sector as a whole.
By Maria Cooper
I went to university in St Andrews, Scotland. Well, in a sense I went to two – the old conventional institution you’ve heard of, and the far more inspiring Transition University of St Andrews. Transition started out for me as something I just did to survive – it was cheaper to grow food than buy it, cheaper to swap clothes and books than buy them, and being outside planting trees or mending bikes was a life-giving contrast to the stuffy library and theoretical learning that otherwise filled my days. Besides, many of my friends and I often felt that sort of depression so prevalent among students. What difference am I making in the world? Who cares about yet another essay, being read by one tutor and then put on the pile of student pride or shame never to be looked at again?
by Olivia Hanks
All people are of equal value. The same is not true of opinions – and the conflation of the two is leading us down a dark path to ignorance and authoritarian rule.
2016 was not a good year for experts. Michael Gove (that straight-talking man of the people) declared that the British public had “had enough” of them. On the face of it, it seems he was right: in voting to leave the European Union, 17.4 million people defied the advice of specialists in every field from finance to ecology to social cohesion. A few months later, in the best Anglo-Saxon tradition of oneupmanship, the United States voted to be led by a man whose approach to policy is to say things at random and see which gets the biggest cheer.
by The Norwich Radical
2016 was a bleak year for many. Across the world, the forces of liberty, of social progress, and of environmental justice lost time and again in the face of rising fascism, increased alienation, and intensifying conflict. That notwithstanding, there have been moments of light. In the Austrian Presidential election, the electorate confirmed the independently Green candidate Alexander van der Bellen; the #noDAPL water protectors gained a soft victory in early December; in fact, there is a full list of positives from the past year, if you want cheering up.
2016 saw our team expand to more than 25 writers, editors, and artists as well as host our first ever progressive media conference, War of Words. Our readership has grown from 5,000 per month to more than 6,500 per month. In total, nearly 80,000 people have read content on The Norwich Radical website this year.
In 2017, The Norwich Radical will turn three years old, with plans to grow our team and publication more than ever before. We’ll also be returning to Norwich to bring debate and discussion on the future of the media, with War of Words back for a second year.
Growing up in Norwich gets you used to quite a few things about the city. If you’ve been here for as long as I have, you stop noticing the churches hidden on street corners, the city walls poking out from behind trees — even a massive castle overlooking the city just becomes part of normal life. Staying on in Norwich for university allows me to get to know the city through the eyes of people who haven’t lived here for quite so long.
Odd discussions of Norwich with university friends often involve chatting about places and buildings, and being known as a local, I often end up giving directions to people. If ever in these talks I mention our City Hall, most responses I get are “what?” and “where?” and this to me is a massive shame. City Hall is often forgotten by Norwich residents and ignored by those visiting. It’s a building that represents us like no other and suits Norwich just perfectly, and we should learn to love it.
By Georgia Waye-Barker
Norwich has been identified as a popular place to live in England, bringing plentiful benefits, as well as its fair share of challenges. Its diverse population needs a range of housing solutions, and these need to be carefully balanced throughout the city to ensure a sustainable community and good quality of life for all.
Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) often provide housing for students and young people, who are unable to access other forms of housing. HMOs therefore provide a vital element of Norwich’s housing options. However, evidence suggests that large numbers of HMOs located in concentrated areas can have an adverse effect on the mix of housing use in the community.
By Rowan Gavin
Several months since the safe spaces debate reached the public eye, I’m sure most of you are by now overly familiar with the arguments being made on both sides. Likely you have had the misfortune of hearing someone say that, instead of attempting to exercise some control about when and how they are exposed to traumatic material, students should just ‘man up’ and ‘soldier through it’ like a certain group of people did ‘back in the day’. Recently, I heard academic John Gray on BBC radio 4’s ‘A Point of View’ making his case against safe spaces, and noticed a worrying number of parallels between his apparently sophisticated arguments and those that start with the command to ‘grow a pair’. I hope that deconstructing Gray’s 9-minute monologue can reveal a bit about how these kinds of substanceless arguments and the prejudices that motivate them attempt to veil themselves with legitimacy.
TW: Mental Health, Insomnia
By Robyn Banks
Insomnia is a bitch. It plagued me during my time at university, and many of my friends too. Although I had always had problems sleeping, the long grind of the school day would often wear me out enough to see me getting a few good hours each night. Not so at university – days with only one or even no lectures stretched out endlessly, and with nobody phoning home if I didn’t turn up to lectures, gone was the motivating fear that got me out of bed each morning in the past. The prospect of managing my own time, which had seemed like heaven in my first term, had become a living hell. Bedtimes got later, and mornings became later, until I was essentially nocturnal- living whole months at a time in the miserable dark, unable to access any daytime facilities. Sound familiar?
by Robyn Banks
This weekend, thousands of freshers will descend on University towns across the UK, and pubs, clubs and takeaways prepare themselves for busy nights and big takings. Four years ago I was a fresher in Norwich, and this week my younger sister is hitting the town in Brighton for the first time. Before either of us even arrived in our respective new towns, we knew the score: pre-drinks, pub, club, after-drinks. Our party dresses were the first to be packed and the first to be unpacked.
We grow up in a culture where we know that the first year of university is about drinking, surrounded by tales of students who spend more money on beer than on food and the collective assumption that this is what our maintenance loans are for, and gently edged towards arranging our own priorities similarly. If the entire first year is not about drinking, then fresher’s week definitely is. That’s the first weekend and the first week. And the second weekend. And some of the second week. Fact.
by Robyn Banks
Ecstasy, or MDMA, has long been a popular student party drug. Despite being relatively safe for use, not many people understand the chemical change in the brain that comes with being high on MDMA, and the rise in students being medicated for anxiety and depression threatens to make a once rare overdose in to an all too common event.
The estimated cost of living for students currently stands at £12,056 per year excluding course costs, and their average income from loans and funding leave students having to find an extra £6,071 each year. You would be forgiven for assuming that Norwich councillors would want to keep rent low and appeal to as many students as possible considering that students make up such a significant proportion of their voters, however it seems that the councillors themselves are not quite on the same page.
by Robyn Banks
UCAS deadlines have passed, interviews are taking place across the country, college students are going through the clearing process. For many, university isn’t just about learning- it’s about the life experiences, the parties, and the new experiences you’ll have within your own minds. That is to say, drugs, and namely those most common university drugs: alcohol and cannabis.
by Emmanuel Agu
Classically, a university education especially one of Russell group or Red-Brick standard universities has been marked as a distinction of class mobility, we know that the those in the upper percentage of wealth in this country are typically high academic achievers. Factually that merit of class distinction has belonged disproportionately to white men; though due to a long legacy of educational reform and positive action to break down these barriers, the goal of societal equality is ever more obtainable.
As Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator states: girls are 30% more likely to go to university than boys, and that BME students remain on the top end of university admission statistics; facts that deserve much celebration as they have been attained largely without positive discrimination quotas. Yet to one who chose to who see facts at only the surface level of the wider situation; this state of affairs only upsets him. He calls on the plight of the ‘white working class men’ espousing rhetoric concerning feminism “becoming detached from equality” and should instead reach to that of bridging the between women and working class men. Similarly in national focus on the BME attainment gap Nelson states, “In spite of all we hear to the contrary, this is a pretty good country in which to be young, gifted and black.”
by Lewis Martin
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.
Just last week, a key date in the university calendar fell for another year – the release of the results of the National Student Survey (NSS). The NSS, completed by thousands of final year undergraduate students each year, is a data collection tool that is used to promote competition and rank student satisfaction in universities across the country.
by Daniel Delargy
Since graduating from UEA, things kind of went downhill for me. I graduated with the grade I wanted, but I was stuck as to what to do next. I had no job, no sense of personal accomplishment, deteriorating relationships, and to top it all off I moved back in with my parents and felt ashamed because as the eldest child, I had this expectation that I had to be this success story which my siblings could look up to.
My old habits started returning. I tried to get back into an old hobby of mine, running – but quickly dismissed it. I hid myself away.
by Sam Naylor
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.)
Some might think that the universities of Manchester, Kent, and Durham are jumping the gun a bit as MPs are yet to vote on the increase in parliament but I’d rather see it as an eager sign of increasing students’ experiences rather than a money grabbing exercise. We will all remember being constantly instructed by our most benevolent regime to ‘live within our means’ and that acquiring debt is terrible for a country but a must for university students.
I graduated! I actually graduated. Mortarboard thrown, picture taken, congratulatory conversations with parents and friends and then you hear the dreaded, “What are you doing next?”
It’s not that I have never given much thought to what would come post-university — quite the opposite. The last few months prior to dressing in my cap and gown have been filled with endless job applications, copious redrafts of my CV and looking into Masters programmes both in the UK and elsewhere – I cannot be the only one. I am certain the same can be said of other BAME students whose road to graduate employment is a lot more uncertain and suspiciously taxing.
“You can’t even use apostrophes.” I may not have always said it, but I’m certainly guilty of thinking it and similar things to do with punctuation, spelling, and grammar. Whether directed at someone during an online debate, or used to make yourself superior because someone else has bigoted views or an unfavourable political standpoint. Even in cases where someone is verbally attacking you and making personal comments, you’re not the better person for commenting on their intellect or education.
It’s not wrong to ask what university is actually for, is it? As a soon to be graduate, it almost seems expected to find myself questioning what I have been doing for the last three years. Admittedly, a lot of all-nighters and sleep, but more importantly, I am pondering as to what I’ve actually learnt in my time as a student.
I’ve had a flick through all my old notes, essay papers, and emails and amidst it all, I am struggling to find that hallmark which encapsulates what it means to be a student and a humanities one at that. I am not necessarily taking a stab at the content of my degree, rather I am querying its usefulness, and how I can apply what I’ve been taught into my daily activities. No doubt there are many modules, books, and ideas that will stay with me for some time to come, but my question is, what is the practical value of obtaining a degree and should there even be one?
In May 2016, Birmingham City University announced it will be accepting applications for its new degree in ‘Black Studies’— the first of its kind in Europe. The course is said to be an interdisciplinary area of study that will look into migration of the African diaspora, black scholars, and the effects of economics within black communities. Estimated to parallel the popular and esteemed African-American study programmes present at the likes of Yale, Harvard, and Howard University, this programme is finally addressing an underlying problem within British education. More specifically, why black voices have long been ignored or overridden in academic spheres. As a Birmingham native, I have never been more proud to witness this advancement, but we cannot stand by the belief that its implementation is enough.
We are being scammed again. The Higher Education White Paper, whilst deliberately wordy and confusing, is the latest attack on our right to a free and fair education system. Quite poignantly, our government’s HE White Paper is titled ‘Success as a Knowledge Economy.’ As the name suggests, it is a blueprint for the further marketisation of education. It is a model deliberately constructed to strangle universities of funding so that they can never improve when they fail to meet new Teaching Excellence Framework standards, and it is a further attempt to rank and commercialise universities where education is seen as a commodity to be bought and sold, and students are taught that they exist only as consumers.
Trigger warning: rape, sexual assault
South African high court Judge, Mabel Jansen, has come under fire in regards to recently published comments in which she claimed black men find gang-rape of a “baby, daughter and mother a pleasurable past time.” Jansen’s accusations came alongside a series of other inflammatory comments in which she likened rape and murder as cultural pastimes within the (South African) black community. Although Jansen later reported that these comments were taken out of context, this does point to a larger issue of how we understand rape, both as a social and theoretical practice.
Today, the Higher Education White Paper was published, with its proposals for entrenched market forces in Univerisites and further increased tuition fees. The media narrative beforehand, though, was not of the hard work NUS have put into fighting this, but instead on disgruntled Students’ Unions looking to sever their ties from their national union. In one week, two universities have disaffiliated from NUS. The 9th of May saw Lincoln SU vote in a referendum to disaffiliate, and on the 12th, Newcastle followed suit. With more referendums to come, most notably at Oxford and Cambridge, it is highly likely that we will see more disaffiliations. Now more than ever, we must recognise the growing disillusionment with NUS that has been gaining momentum at an alarming rate all year.
Disclaimer: mentions suicide
by Olivia Davis
Nightline is unique.
A phone call at 3AM under normal circumstances as a regular student would result in a sigh or occasionally, slight frustration. However, at Nightline it is an opportunity for a student to reach out when they may be feeling at a low or a vulnerable point in their life. As a volunteer listening service operating at over 50 universities in the UK with over 2000 student volunteers, Nightline operates as a reliable network for fellow students.
Norwich Nightline is open for both UEA and NUA students, 8PM-8AM everyday of term, regardless of exams or holidays. “We’ll listen, not lecture” is the main policy volunteers abide by in our mission to provide others in need of guidance.
by Sam Naylor
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.
At first glance (and second and third) you might wonder why this representation of the male form is a problem for anyone. I’ve spoken to male friends before that don’t see anything wrong with wanting to keep their bodies healthy and in shape. I agree, I’m not saying that exercise and a good diet are things to be raged against, quite the opposite. It is an issue though when this idealised version of a muscular physique, which is predominately portrayed as white, is paraded as our default-sexy setting.
When I was in my last year of primary school, I experienced the death of a pupil in the year below; her name was Demi. She had epilepsy and was known to have regular fits, but they were often manageable and not entirely life threatening if responded to sufficiently. I distinctly remember one lunch time as I headed towards the playground, that I passed by Demi having another fit. Teachers and paramedics cornered me off, so as not to make a bigger scene and I ran off to the playground to inform others. Of course we were all concerned, but were mostly pacified in the knowledge she was in the best possible care.
The next morning at school, my teacher informed us that Demi had died. She was only 10 years old — they had been unable to restart her heart. In that moment, I felt a level of responsibility. I saw her in her last moments and passed it off as another episode that would soon rectify itself to see Demi in good health. Counsellors came into school and assemblies were given, but they did nothing to attend to the hurt and regret I felt for not being able to do more. I know that Demi’s condition was never my immediate concern, but there was always that part of me that took on the blame for witnessing her final moments. For many pupils including myself, it was their first experience with death and consequently grief.
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.
The Norwich Radical was born in the student movement, and we continue to be an active part within it. We recognise that while official structures are not the sum total of the movement, they play an undeniably important part and to understand the political consciousness of the student movement, you need to, in part, look at the National Union of Students. As we move into election season for the new NUS President, Vice Presidents and National Executive Council, we contacted all candidates in those elections and offered them the space to write about their election campaigns, why they are standing and their vision for NUS.
By Daniel Nikolla
I am a citizen of the world and I am the President of City and Islington College. Being a full time student, unpaid Student Union Officer and a non-EU International student in the UK is not easy at all! I take inspiration from the difficult things I have achieved in the past – Being an amateur to semi-PRO footballer from the age of nine, to moving to the UK aged 20. I also take inspiration from my family, who achieved so much in an oppressed society.
From #oscarssowhite to #rhodesmustfall, a spotlight has been shone on the lack of diversity and positive representation for POC across numerous institutions. Although these discussions have been catalysed in online spheres, the implications of these hashtags reference the real experiences of silencing and downplaying the importance of solidarity among BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) people — particularly in student environments.
In 2015, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) conducted a study that suggested more BME students as opposed to White British students were enrolling in university — despite statistically ‘underperforming’ in academia. A general consensus made by researchers was that students from minority households have higher aspirations regarding education than their white counterparts, even with the increase made to tuition fees and the potential privatisation of student loans at hand.
by Alex Valente
Unless you’re an internet native, have dyslexia, or just didn’t read it, the title of this piece is probably irritating you to no end right about now. It took me a while to intentionally write ‘wrong’. I do not apologise.
I was having a conversation with an ex-student and friend a couple of weeks ago, about how language is being dealt with by certain university courses, and we stumbled over some of the commentary brought about by Nietzsche and Cixous. The points, respectively, boil down to: we use language to create truths that underpin our concept of reality; that reality is predominantly, and prescriptively, structured — mostly in a kyriarchal way. While I am not disagreeing entirely, the danger is to view language as more of an abstract entity than what it really is.
I need you to know I am hungover I need you to know
I went out and got alcohol poisoning I am in bed eating
pizza I am the real deal I need you to know I am the god
of all your comedy give me what I need I need you to
know I am jealous of you but I cannot say it properly
by Kunal Chattopadhyay
Seldom has an incident in an Indian University received so much international coverage and solidarity as the ongoing confrontation in Jawaharlal Nehru University. 450 scholars, among who were names like Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar, as well as JNU alumni, signed a statement. 358 academics from Universities across California issued a letter in which they condemned the harassment of students for their political beliefs. The letter called the police crackdown on the students an “alibi for the incursion of an authoritarian regime onto the university campus”. Oxford University and the University of Chicago among others have sent in their support. Within India, solidarity actions developed in Delhi, Chennai, and various academic institutions, including notably Jadavpur University in Kolkata. And there have also been massive, unrelenting state and rightwing attacks, including physical violence.
by Robyn Banks
I ditched the landline when I first came to University in 2012. With my mobile phone almost surgically attached to my hand, it didn’t seem to make sense to pay money I didn’t have every month for a phone with no caller ID, and which in order to answer I had to jog across the house on a time limit only to find it wasn’t actually me they wanted to speak to. I’ve lived quite happily without one since then, and I didn’t really think about landlines again until this term, when I spent 2 days a week sitting next to one.
by Philippa Costello
Any third year undergraduate with a pulse will be aware of the impending juggernaut that is the National Student Survey (NSS). If they are not aware, they almost certainly will be soon. The months of phone calls, posters, and haranguing at every possible opportunity will see to that.
Try as I might, I can’t seem to ignore Milo. I know his type — I see them a lot in my line of work. The spoilt little boy who thinks he’s so clever, desperate to be noticed for all the dirty words he knows or the time he said “or what?” to a teacher. Milo seems to fancy himself an anti-authoritarian, but this is only true in the sense of a child screaming at his parents for only giving him one pack of sweets.
Once again, the perpetual adolescent has entered my inner sanctum with his ‘Privilege Grant’, a university fund only available to white men which Milo probably thinks is a Swiftian satire of social justice rhetoric. You know when people ask you to do something and you answer with no, shortly before doing what they asked? This joke works on about that level. Ah, you actually thought I was doing something to combat male privilege, but I’m arguing that MEN are the oppressed ones. Yeah, that’s the opposite of what you think, isn’t it? That must rile you up.
by Robyn Banks
I’m a pagan.
You’re probably thinking of Satan worship or Ouija boards right now, right? Or figuring I must just be really in to Marilyn Manson. What if I told you I was a witch? Would you think of Hogwarts and broomsticks? Are you laughing yet? If you’re a Dawkins loving new atheist, fair enough. But if you’d defend anybody else’s right to their faith, you’re probably a hypocrite.
By Sam Naylor
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 repetitive 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.
by Robyn Banks
Last year, I dropped out of uni. My life was falling apart around me, I’d run out of new excuses for extension requests on my assignments, I was failing to meet any of my responsibilities. My finances were in chaos, I wasn’t eating and I was totally failing to prioritise by continually allowing my grades and self care to slip in order to meet my obligations to other people, which I was barely doing anyway. I was always late, I couldn’t sleep, I managed to check my emails about once a month and consequently fell further and further out of the loop. I pushed my friends away, clawed them back, worried they all hated me and yapped on and on about just how irrevocably miserable I was. I was afraid of my lecturers, assuming they all had some kind of report card about me in their heads in which they totted up all of the missed classes, late assignments, and failings on my part and were sure to judge me for it. I became so depressed I couldn’t get out of bed, so I asked if I could drop out and try the year again in September.
by Robyn Banks
It all started with a Facebook event. Goldsmiths Student Union Welfare and Diversity officer, Bahar Mustafa, wanted to find out how she could help women and non-binary students of colour at her university. Aware that the voices of these minority groups were often difficult to hear, she decided to organise an event to talk to women and non-binary BME students alone. She created a Facebook event and politely requested that men and white people did not attend the event for people who weren’t men or white people. I don’t pretend to understand the reasons that white men at Goldsmiths were so upset that they weren’t wanted at the BME meeting, but they were, and before long the story had made it in to the right wing press and Bahar was splashed across the pages of the Daily Mail. After being put under harsh scrutiny and being the subject of a campaign of harassment, Bahar tweeted that familiar sentiment which has come to epitomise the frustration of third wave feminists, from Bikini Kill to Jezebel, in the form of a hashtag: “#Killallwhitemen”.
Borderlines is a collection of thought pieces, some creative, some direct accounts, some memoirs, all true. Borderlines collects stories from people who are not fleeing from one country to another, but rather chose to move, or were made to do so by a series of non-threatening circumstances. In these stories there is anger, hope, disappointment, joy, fear, optimism. They are all different, and yet all striking in their approach to the subject matter.
Borderlines aims to show the reality of migration, and how we are all, in our own way, migrants.
When the Conservatives came to power this year, without even the Liberal Democrats to soften the inevitable multiple blows, many artists buckled up for more difficult years. I’m not one to buy the starving artist cliché, but it’s a reality that in these times, where arts funding is being cut (despite receiving a proportionally meagre amount), that being any kind of artist is going to be a struggle. It also means that it is sold as a less viable career path for young people, and the arts are placed back in the hands of the wealthy elite.
This summer George Osborne announced that the current system of non-repayable, means-tested maintenance grants would be scrapped and replaced by additional maintenance loans. He deemed it “basic unfairness” to ask taxpayers to fund grants for people who are likely to earn a lot more than them.
Perhaps then it’s his experiences of the tax affairs of Tory party benefactors, such as Michael Ashcroft (also known as Lord Ashcroft to those who adhere to the moronic social phenomenon of ‘peerage’), that blinds the Chancellor from the logical conclusion that earning more justifiably means paying higher taxes, to, for instance, provide an equal means by which people can access higher education.
by Liam McCafferty
Over the last five years, students have felt the impact of austerity. With the recent election shock of a Conservative majority, we can expect further hardship: more cuts, more pain. But how exactly have students been affected by austerity, and why should we care?
TW: rape, sexual assault, sex-shaming
by Asia Patel
On the 15th April 2015, the Union of UEA students held a free film screening of The Hunting Ground, a documentary about sexual assault on american college campuses. It was made by the same Academy Award-nominated team that created The Invisible War, a film about sexual assault in the United States Military. The documentary was followed by a skype call with the director, Kirby Dick, and a discussion with a panel consisting of Holly Staynor (Welfare, Community and Diversity Officer), Beth Smith (Women’s Officer), Anjali Menezes (Sexual Assault Awareness Committee), and me from the UEA Feminist Society Committee.
The documentary itself focused on the stories of survivors of sexual assault, particularly of Andrea Pino and Annie E. Clark, two former students at the University of North Carolina who were raped on campus. In the US, reports such as those of sexual assault can be dealt with solely by the college itself, with people in place to decide relevant actions to be taken upon attackers, and to support survivors. However, when these two survivors reported their rapes, they were not supported by their university.
The narrative of free speech has become increasingly complicated. It would be easy to assume that only teenagers and the most reactionary bigots would be likely to claim their right to free speech had been violated after having their views disagreed with, protested against, or denied a prestigious platform. But as this misunderstanding was repeated time and time again — cries of censorship followed UEA union shops decision to stop buying a newspaper it couldn’t even sell, legitimate protest was written off as silencing and oppression — it seems to have seeped in to the public consciousness.
Today, even the most critical thinkers seem to forget that the right to free speech doesn’t grant them the right to say whatever they like, wherever they like, and to be granted whichever platform they consider themselves worthy of. I have no right to walk in to my local KFC and preach vegetarianism on their property, just as I have no right to claim I am being silenced because The Guardian refused to publish this article.
by Katy Quigley, UEA Unison Equalities Rep
Over the last six weeks a campaign has slowly taken shape for the Living Wage to be introduced at UEA. Whilst this mainly affects the trade union Unison’s members, the two other trade unions on campus – UCU and Unite – as well as the Union of UEA students, have all begun to work together to ensure that those at the lowest end of the pay scale are paid a fair wage.
With the minimum wage set at £6.50 for those aged 21 and over, many people are confused about the point of a Living Wage campaign, or even what the Living Wage would mean in real terms. The reality is that the minimum wage simply does not pay enough to provide what members of the public, according to research undertaken by the University of Loughborough, deem an ‘acceptable standard of living’. At the moment this is set at £7.85. The Living Wage is not an act of charity: paying workers a fair wage for their living gives them dignity, reduces sickness and absence rates, and improves staff retention rates. When a business does not pay the Living Wage it is local support groups, council services, and national welfare that pick up more of the bill to top up the worker’s income.
Employers who do not pay the Living Wage are therefore asking people to earn their poverty, and the University of East Anglia is unfortunately one of the culprits.
Disclaimer: One of the reasons I most enjoy writing for the Norwich Radical is the freedom I get to make sweeping generalisations and the ability to dress up my ‘reckons’ as hardened, well researched fact. With this in mind I invite you to continue reading and take a tour of my most recent ponders and speculations.
Universities are the place where the leaders of tomorrow are squashed into being. The people that pass through university doors go on to be the business owners, the entrepreneurs, and the politicians. They go on to be the citizens who, on average at least, are more likely to be those people who shape the lives of many others. So what do these people look like? Well, even I’m not brave enough to try and generalise all students into a homogeneous group but there’s certainly some conversations to be had about the changing ‘average student’.
The way we view ourselves as a part of (or not a part of) the society around us really shapes the way we act. The way we view ourselves alters the view of our neighbours, near or far. So, how do we create ‘good’ citizens? (If I can fall upon a perfect enough definition we might come back to what a good citizen looks like…) Let’s take a whistle-stop tour of life before uni.
by Jess Howard
Last week a painting by French artist Paul Gauguin sold at auction for £197 million.
Nafea Faa Ipoipo, which translates to ‘When will you marry me?’, features two Tahitian women sat on a stretch of grass in front of a tree. We see the islands formidable mountains and an expanse of green fields behind them. The sale set a record for the most amount of money paid at auction for a piece of art. The work knocked Paul Cezanne’s The Card Players off of the top spot, which sold for £158 million back in 2011.
by Lesley Grahame, Green Party Norwich South candidate.
There are some parallels in the marketisation of health and education, from my own experience. A parent told me her son was injured at school, and she wanted to know why nobody phoned to tell her at the time, why the incident had been allowed to happen, and what was being done to prevent further occurrence. Instead of answering her, the school asked her to withdraw her Facebook comments. The parent rang the council, who told her they had no jurisdiction because it was a free school.
by Josh Clare
What strikes me most about students working alongside their studies is the transition to this state of being becoming the accepted norm. Not that long ago someone working whilst being at University was the exception, then it became probable that a student would have some sort of job and now it’s a near certainty. Why? Because it’s a necessity. A website called ‘Save the Student‘ lists getting a part time job as a ‘top tip’ (number 3 of 5) to plug the (growing) gap in students finances.
by Alex Valente
This is not another defence of the Humanities as a subject worthy of study, funding, support.
This is not a defence of creative writing as a subject worthy of teaching, practising, support.
This is not a way to convince myself that teaching English Literature at a higher education institution in the UK is a career worth pursuing. Though maybe it is, maybe it is all of those.
This is not, in any way, a researched piece. The editors have allowed me to voice my thoughts on the matter because I wanted to say something about it.
by Union of UEA Students
Here at Union of UEA Students’ we have been working hard to create an environment where students feel safe and free from sexual harassment.
We launched the Good Night Out project on Friday 9th January 2015, at The Returners event. This has involved training over 200 of our bar staff, security and managers in ensuring that students have a safe night free from sexual harassment.
Through improving our reporting procedure, we want student to feel that they can report incidents of sexual harassment and trust that we will take it seriously.
We are launching the Never OK campaign on Monday 12th January 2015, which will involve a strong visual campaign around challenging behaviours around the perceived norm of sexual harassment. Student are invited to share their own stories, and complete our short survey, to allow us to gain feedback for the next step of the campaign.
by Justice for Cleaners SOAS
The Justice for Cleaners SOAS campaign is led by the cleaning staff at SOAS, with the support of students and university staff. The cleaners campaign began in 2006, and in 2008 won decent London living wage. Last year, after a series of strikes, the campaign won their demands for sick pay, holiday pay, and pensions.
However, the campaign has not yet won their key demand of the cleaning staff, which is to be brought back in house (to work directly to SOAS instead of a subcontractor). Since the early 1990s SOAS cleaners have been subcontracted by a succession of private companies, all of which have been allegations of victimization and intimidation of the cleaning staff, including persecution of the J4C campaigners and trade union representatives, and through attempts to undermine working conditions.
by Rowan Gavin
So it’s that time of year again. It gets real cold out, warm alcohol is consumed in considerable quantities, and people give each other gifts. At UEA, the People and Planet Society decided that the University management deserved a very special kind of christmas present. As you may have heard, People and Planet have been running a branch of the Fossil Free campaign at UEA. Unfortunately, the University has not responded to our concerns in any meaningful way, so we decided that we should send a more direct message. Judging by their investment choices, it seems that UEA are rather fond of Fossil Fuels – so what better present than their very own oil rig?
by Chris Jarvis.
The garment industry is infamous for its appalling track record on workers’ rights. Every year, we receive news reports of another in a long list of abuses – from the Rana Plaza factory collapse, to the workers at PT Kizone who were denied their redundancy payments of multinational corporations until public pressure forced them to give in. Sweatshop is a word that resonates among the public as synonymous with the vast majority of garment production.
This is why it’s so important that UEA is standing up for workers’ rights and has finally implemented its decision to affiliate to the Worker Rights Consortium. This has come after a four year campaign by the People & Planet society and the Student Union at UEA, with mass petitioning, ongoing lobbying and the largest ‘nearly naked protest’ in the country.
by Chris Jarvis.
With tuition fees at £9,000, cuts to education funding, the scapegoating of international students, reform to DSA, squeezes on staff pay and pensions, and the slashing of bursaries and scholarships, access to education is for many becoming more of a myth and less of a reality. Instead of an education system that works for all, Universities are undergoing a lengthy process of marketization and privatisation which prices the poor and disadvantaged out of ever getting a degree.
In certain circles, there is the perception that the transformation to the ideal of the student as consumer is complete and that therefore the student activist and a radical student movement is a thing of the past. Although there was the anti-fees flashpoint in 2010, the argument goes, now the modern student is more concerned with getting their money’s worth from the education they directly pay for, than they are about changing the world.
Over the last four years there have been countless examples of campaigns that prove this thesis wrong. This series of articles seeks to explore those campaigns, what they have achieved and what they mean for the student movement and the Higher Education sector as a whole.
by Chris Jarvis
In February 2013, students at the University of Sussex occupied a University building, as part of a campaign against the mass outsourcing of large chunks of the University’s operation. Privatising maintenance, catering and security among other functions put the employment of 235 members of staff at the University at risk as well as changing the narrative of what those services existed for. Rather than being run for their own sake, they would instead be run for profit. The plans, when announced a year previously, were done so with no meaningful consultation with either staff or students.
by George Appleyard and Louise Wiggins
The second in our series of articles from progressive and campaigning societies at UEA.
The UEA Model United Nation society was set up in 2012 and has been enabling students to engage in lively debates and negotiations over exciting world issues ever since. Members can debate matters on the UN agenda, allowing them to improve their communication and negotiation skills while engaging in current affairs. Members will also have the opportunity to analyse the way the UN works and develop their own opinions and ideas for solutions to the world’s biggest problems.
In the first year of its inception the society took a delegation of students, which had been fully trained and prepared, to the world famous London International Model United Nations Conference. Students had the opportunity to meet like-minded delegates from around the globe and contest the most important issues surrounding the notorious Millenium Development Goals. It was a great mix of serious debate and some incredible social activities.
by Eliza Horton and Claire Reiderman
The first in our series of articles from progressive and campaigning societies at UEA.
Standing in a crowded sports hall on the first Tuesday of the semester surrounded by hungover freshers and the smell of stale sweat can only mean one thing – the society fair, or as its known at UEA ‘SocMart’. This year, as a new committee member for several societies, I was kept busy desperately piling all our leaflets onto the exam-sized table and leaping out at unsuspecting first years almost all day. One of these societies was People & Planet UEA, the UEA branch of the national organization founded by students with the aim of environmental and social justice. Surprisingly, given the description I have given above, the day was strangely enjoyable. It felt good to be asking students difficult questions about climate change (rather than just ‘who was playing in the LCR tonight’), to see them struggle to answer and to be able to offer them a way of educating and mobilizing themselves.
People & Planet’s strength lies in its breadth and unity – as a society it operates on two levels: the national and that of the individual university. National regional meetings are held in which campaigns are decided upon and then the students return to their respective universities and put these ideas into action. This is done through weekly society meetings where all members are welcome to share ideas (and usually biscuits); they discuss campaign methods and update the society on any current progress or plans.
by Ella Gilbert
Originally published at Concrete.
The grad season is upon us: the time for sweaty palms, nervous, tipsy grins and synthetic wizard robes. Thousands of third year students graduated this week amidst cheers and storms of applause celebrating three years of (mostly) hard graft. Like the rest, I was pleased that it was all over and happy that I could finally get my hands on a tangible recognition of all that work. There was one small hurdle though: the small matter of a certain pompous ceremony. I’m not sure there are many people who relish standing in a billowing Harry Potter gown in front of 800 people, but looking like a prat was lower on my agenda than it might otherwise have been. Sure, I was worried that I might stack it up the stairs or walk off the stage by the wrong exit, but more than anything I was rehearsing what I was going to say to the man I would have to refuse to shake hands with before collecting my certificate. Unfortunately for me, my ceremony was presided over by Edward Acton, the outgoing Vice Chancellor of UEA who will be replaced by David Richardson this coming September. In the run-up to this day, I’d gladly, and perhaps misguidedly, trilled that I would refuse to shake the hand of a man who had overseen such a shocking and deplorable track record of management during the course of my university career. Now, I had to stick to my guns and actually do it.
by Jack Palmer
Like any well-trained student, I’ll open with a quote. It’s one from the forever-sniffing, forever-scruffy, cultural critic and contemporary theorist Slavoj Žižek: “We need theory more than ever today. We should not feel terrorized by this false sense of moralistic emergence: ‘no time for theory, people are starving’ and so on. My god, it is only through theory that we have at least a hope to learn what to do!”
Žižek’s assertion is a provocative one: it challenges our understanding of that word ‘theory’. In the scientific sphere, ‘theory’ means a comprehensively proven idea – one, crucially, that forms the foundation for knowledge. In the humanities by comparison, ‘theory’ is abstract: it’s speculative, faddish and maybe even a little indulgent. But the claim staked here is that theory in the humanities is not all groundless conjecture; for Žižek it’s vitally grounded, and where the real work of thinking happens.
by Elliot Folan
Last month, it was revealed that UEA plans to raise accommodation fees for university students by up to 9%. Students have already come forward to say that they would not have been able to afford the new prices, and the students’ union has raised questions about accessibility and affordability. Yet the second big story of the fee rise is an issue of democracy. It was reported – and the university declined to deny – that student union officers were told they would not be consulted on the fee rise, and that the university had no intention of consulting them at all. In other words, on an issue that is of material concern to thousands of new and continuing students on our campus, management felt it necessary to completely ignore and override the wishes of our elected representatives.
Such contempt for democratic procedure is standard practice at UEA, and they speak to a wider problem of opaque decision making and lack of accountability on our campus and in the university system generally. There are three more examples of such undemocratic decisions.