Posts Tagged ‘University of Edinburgh’

Gender Boundaries, Student.

Transcending the boundaries

Opposites are entrenched within society. Black, white. Rich, poor. Gay, straight. Male, female. We are continually defined in binaries. At every box we are obliged to tick, we are pigeonholed into unrealistic social conventions. But what about the grey area? … continue reading this entry.

Gaza Protest, Student.

UNIVERSITY OF Edinburgh students gathered in force last Thursday in protest against the continuing violence in Gaza.

Over two hundred students who expressed their contempt towards the violence and occupation of Gaza attended the protest, led by the Palestine Solidarity Society.

The protest began at 1.30pm in Bristo Square, which took a tour around the George Square campus. The protest was followed up with the organisers of the protest, from the Palestine Solidarity Society and representatives from the university’s Stop the War Coalition, and People and Planet, presenting an open letter, which was signed by students, to an MSP at the Scottish Parliament.
Students displayed anti-war signs and chanted “End the siege in Gaza. Ceasefire now!” as they called for an end to the bloodshed with an immediate withdrawal of Israeli military from Gaza.

Shabana Basheer, president of Palestine Solidarity Society and one of the main organisers of the events, was amazed with the amount of student support. She said “I think there were a lot of people who wouldn’t normally be moved to protest, but the level of feeling against the war in Gaza is so high that they wanted to make their voices heard.”

Students were eager to show their support for ceasefire in Gaza, and the large number remained peaceful. Police presence was felt to be excessive with around 20 police officers attending the protest equipped with video cameras and batons. Students felt ‘intimidated’ by the police presence. Humphrey Wood, a representative from People and Planet, said “police intervention prevented the protest from marching through Edinburgh and appearing in front of Scottish Government. In this light the police presence was extremely negative and lessened the impact of the protest to the general public and the Scottish parliament itself.”

Women in Black students also staged a women-only silent protest in the square on Wednesday afternoon. Women in Black is an international women’s group that is opposed to war and violence. It originated in 1988 when Israeli and Palestinian women held a vigil together in Jerusalem in an attempt to end the Israeli occupation of Gaza.

Hilary Cornish, the organiser of the Women in Black protest, stated that “the repeated call for peace is very powerful. Women in Black are trying to prevent the build up of a militaristic, hyper-masculine society, which constantly feeds into each other. Silent protests allow people to come to their own conclusions and can be very moving.”

The Palestine Solidarity Society are going to continue with their action by holding the Women in Black vigil and student protest every Wednesday and Thursday until ceasefire. Basheer stated that we need to keep “asking the Scottish Parliament to put more pressure on Westminster to do everything in its power to ensure an immediate ceasefire is put in place.”

For Barack Obama’s inauguration the Palestine Solidarity Society, along with other human rights groups in Scotland, will be performing a candlelight vigil that will commence at Bristo Square, finishing with a protest outside the US Consulate.

Hilary Cornish stated that the campaigning societies “need to do more to reach out to people who want to call for peace, but who mistakenly feel that calling for a ceasefire could be construed as condemning all Israelis or as offering support for Hamas. “

It’s a hard-knock life, Student.

THE LOOMING recession and the soaring food prices are hitting University of Edinburgh students hard. Students are resorting to increasing the number of hours they work, on top of studying for a full time degree, in order to make ends meet.

A report by the Department of Education and Skills (DfES) discovered that more than half of U.K. students now work during term time in order to meet basic living requirements. Those who study in Scotland are the students who most likely to work, with 67% of Scottish students holding a part-time job during term time.

The lack of government help is making university life increasingly difficult for students. In the U.K. student loans fall short of covering accommodation expenses, leading to the students bearing the burden of working to meet basic living costs while studying for a full-time degree. Surveys have found that students are mostly reliant upon financial help from parents, savings and government grants. However, it was leaked that the government have over-estimated their annual budget of £17 billion, by £100 million. The government is currently in deliberation as to make up this miscalculation by limiting of the number of student grants they promised to make available. If this cut happens, students are going to suffer considerably during the economic crisis.

Students in Scotland are already working on average 20 hours a week according to a financial survey conducted by the Halifax bank. This figure is five hours more than the recommended maximum number of hours a student should work per week. Research by Unicorn Jobs, a student focused careers agency, showed that students should work no more than 15 hours per week in addition to full time study, as working long hours has been proven to have a negative effect upon university education.

A recent study by the National Union of Students (NUS) showed that 59% of students surveyed felt that part-time work did adversely affect their studies. While 38% admitted that, they had missed lectures in order to attend work. The rising cost of living and the potential withdrawal of government aid will force students to put even more of their time into part-time work, which could have a catastrophic effect upon university students.

James Gribben, a fourth year politics student at the University of Edinburgh who is juggling a full-time degree with a part-time job states that “student loans do not cover flat rent and then I have bills on top of that. I would like to work more hours from the point of view that I would like more money because I am supporting myself through university. But I don’t have the time to give from uni work.”

Student life is becoming increasingly more strenuous as students are not only having to cope with moving away from home, but also have to manage a demanding work life balance that consists of academic work, paid work, society work and, if possible, a social life. Potential graduate employers are beginning to value society involvement and volunteer work, over regular part-time student jobs such as bar and shop work.

Niamh Ó Maoláin, second year Law student at the University of Edinburgh, believes that part-time work is an aspect of university life that helps to prepare you for the world of work after graduation. She stated that “part-time jobs can actually be really beneficial. You get used to a routine and learn how to get on in an office environment. Plus the money helps.”

The question is should students have to be forced into minimum wage jobs that do not give them essential skills particular to an area of work that they are interested in? Should students be inhibited from focussing on their degree due to a lack of government funding? The government’s motto was ‘Education, education, education’. Yet it is making university life financially more difficult for students, which is set to become more arduous with the looming economic crisis.

Victory for student campaigners after drinking age protest, Student

UNIVERSITY OF Edinburgh students and opposition MSPs successfully put a halt to the Scottish Nationalist Party’s (SNP) plans to increase the legal drinking age by joining forces outside the Scottish Parliament last Thursday.

The protest saw a collection of young people and MSPs gathering to display their opposition to the stigmatisation of young people through speeches against the proposals and by chanting “citizen, not criminal”.

The SNP launched their radical approach to tackling alcohol misuse and alcohol-related crime by getting tough on the 18-21 year olds who they believe to be at the cause of the problem. The SNP’s Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill supported the policy stating that “we can no longer sit back and let alcohol misuse continue to take its shocking toll on our criminal justice system, health service and economy.” According to the SNP website alcohol misuse costs Scotland’s tax payers £2.25 billion a year.

This extremist policy united students, young people and MSP’s in opposition to the SNP. Mike Pringle, Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh South, said “These proposals are a reactionary and misguided move by the SNP Government, designed to appear tough rather than solve the problem.”

He continues “surely Scotland should not become a place where at age 18 you can bravely fight for your country, or vote in an election, but are not trusted to buy a bottle of wine to enjoy with friends over an evening meal or a couple of beers to watch the match with?” It seems that most politicians agreed with Pringle’s stance as 72 MSPs voted against the motion on Thursday evening, defeating the SNP’s proposals with a majority of 72 to 47 votes.

Tom French, former University of Edinburgh student and co-ordinator of the Coalition Against Raising the Drinking Age in Scotland (CARDAS), submitted a 10,000 signature petition against the policy and led the protest at the Scottish Parliament. He labelled the SNP’s proposals as ‘daft and discriminatory’ and said the proposal is “a gimmick to make the SNP appear tough on crime and order.”

French thanked everyone who participated in the CARDAS campaign after the results from the debate were announced, stating on a Facebook message that “We’ve won an overwhelming victory and it is down to each and everyone of you. Thank you.”

Letter, Student.

Dear Harry,

We were rather disappointed with the deprecating comments that you made towards left-wing women that were printed in Student 23/9/08.

We do wonder how can one advocate that ‘Life is better under a Conservative’ with the superficial reasons that you gave to support the statement and through your encouragement of sexual exploitation and the objectification of women.

To encourage an advertisement that alludes to women being subordinated sexually by men with the tagline that ‘Life is better under a Conservative’, not ‘under the Conservatives’ is extremely shocking. It is not a poster that is promoting a better life for modern women, but as a means to con women into accepting a secondary place to men.

Life is not better ‘under a Conservative’ and we much prefer the ‘woman on top’. You should try it; you might even like it.

With kindest regards,

Women of the World.

Students campaign against coal, Student.

STUDENTS FROM the University of Edinburgh have taken a more direct approach against global warming by joining the 1,500 protesters at the prospective new coal plant in Kingsnorth, Kent.

The German company E.ON intends to replace the existing power station with a £1.5 billion coal fuelled plant and build a further six coal plants across the UK if granted by Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. It has been estimated that the Kingsnorth plant alone would emit between six to eight million tons of carbon dioxide a year, making Britain’s target of reducing carbon emissions impossible and increasing the likelihood that global warming will spiral out of control.

The Government’s antipathy with green issues has led to many people taking a more direct approach to encourage climate action and increase the pressure on energy companies to put people and the planet before profit.

Climate Camp is one recent form of direct action that has been taken, in which volunteers spend ten days at an organised location. Climate Camp is not just about the marches and protests that are publicised in the media. It also includes workshops on tackling global warming, education on sustainable living and creates an awareness that social change is needed in order to save our planet.

However, Climate Camp has been heavily criticised not only by the Government and subsequent police presence, but also in some forms of media for disguising criminal activity with a moral and selfless motive.

Amanda Grimm, University of Edinburgh student and a member of People and Planet, said that Climate Camp “was an amazing experience. Direct action is the best way to achieve social change by capturing media attention and creating public awareness”. It seems that green activists believe that direct action is the only way forward in the Climate Change Movement.

Public opinion certainly does seem to be changing because of the direct action in the Climate Change Movement. Jury members recently acquitted six Greenpeace activists for criminal damage against the Kingsnorth plant in October 2007.

It appears that Climate Camp and direct action is getting the message across to the public that something needs to be done about global warming, while politicians and fuel companies, ignoring the Green message, continue to drive the planet to combustion.