“Staff” Beat Students in Final Footie Showdown

Black clouds loomed over Lancaster’s 3G pitches on a windswept April evening, little did the PPR student team know the weather was a pathetic fallacy for their final sporting performance against the department staff. After one win each in the previous games, this was the match to settle all scores.

Tensions were high as the game got underway, could the students youth and agility out do the staff’s sly tactics and aggressive tackles? A goal by the students in the first 10 minutes answered this question quick enough. However it all seemed to go downhill from there.

The students struggled to maintain composure, some team members began to fling themselves on the floor in an attempt to win the ball, with little success. Conner ‘The Brick Wall’ Monaghan ended up just physically blocking the more agile players of the Staff side. Though the opposing team were not innocent, Robert Geyer producing the first dirty tackle from the staff and physically flipping a student over head first.

Comments from the crowed ensued, with one student commenting “I’m surprised the staffs health is up to this, how did Geyer not pop a hip in that tackle?” Yet the staff proved relentless and continued to see off the student advances, particularly Fritton who was even able to take out The Brick Wall on the odd occasion.

The star player for the staff team was Gabe, who time and again out skilled the revision-tired students. Though technically being the son of a student he should have been on the opposite team, but hey who’s counting stolen players? *cough* Sam Mace *cough*

Soon enough the staffs efforts afforded them a goal, bringing the score to 1-1. Despite equalising Matthew ‘Jason Statham’ Johnson continued his verging on violent tactics, taking out a student player in a spectacular fashion. Frustration began to flare within the student team, with Monaghan shouting expletives appearing flustered.

Mark ‘The Gazelle’ Garnett on the other hand remained calm and composed, in his delightful shorts, tights and ‘Messy’ t-shirt combo he skipped down the wings fending off the students and lining up passes for the staff. Who knew someone could be so agile in a football match whilst smoking an e-cigarette from the sidelines?

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As the first half drew to a close injuries and failed tackles ensued and the student supporters on the sidelines were very dissatisfied with their teams efforts. Regretfully, some of the comments are just too obscene to post on such a highly esteemed publication like the Despatch Box.

The second half got underway with a lacklustre sense of enthusiasm from both sides, evidently fitness levels were not what they were circa March 2014. Before long tensions boiled over in a dispute over who’s ball it was for a throw in, but Statham’s death stare/eyeballing of the student player soon made him give up the debate.

The second half played out pretty uneventfully, bar Mabon physically restraining one student, Grant being dangerously taken out when he got too close to the staff goal and student players still falling on the floor in dreary attempt at tackling the opposition.

Despite losing 3 balls over the fence during the second half, the staff managed to secure another goal, in what is most likely the biggest fluke of all three matches as the ball limply rolled across the line. Within minutes a third goal is landed by the staff team and the already deflated students began to unravel, as they came to realisation they are not only academically incomparable to the staff.

The match came to an end with man-of-the-match mini-Garnett making a star appearance for the staff team, coming close in second for the title of MOTM was Gabe, who carried the staff team for all three matches.

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Time was called and Mabon embodied the persona of a Cheshire Cat as the teams shook hands begrudgingly. Student Captain Helm exclusively told the Despatch Box, “I am absolutely devastated.”

The match was in aid of local charity, The Lancaster Homeless Shelter, from the match alone over £150 was raised and the bucket will be passed around the PPR department on Wednesday (29th April) for those who would like to donate.

Final score: Staff 3 – Students 1

By Lizzie Roberts

[Photo credit: Emily Tarbuck]

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Lancaster Uni Question Time Trends Nationally

Last night Lancaster University Politics Society held their second successful Question Time event on campus. The debate, chaired by PPR lecturer Dr Simon Mabon, attracted a large audience and the hashtag #LUPSQT was even trending in the UK. The panel consisted of prospective Lancaster and Fleetwood candidates; Robin Long for the Liberal Democrats, Matt Atkins for UKIP, Cat Smith for Labour, Chris Coates for the Greens and Eric Ollerenshaw, the incumbent, for Conservatives.

Five questions, previously submitted to the Society, were put to the panel and further questions were selected from twitter. Kicking off the debate Mia Scott asked;

“People in Lancaster with mental health issues are waiting between 6-12 months for treatment, and are waiting over the recommended 4 hours in A&E when in crisis (despite what has been reported). I believe this is unacceptable. I understand this is a national issue, but I would like to know what do YOU, as the elected political representative in the area, intend to do to support the people in Lancaster who are faced with this issue?”

All the candidates agreed on the importance of the issue, particularly the need to place physical health on a par with mental health issues. The talk of a “Cinderella Service” was mentioned time again which baffled many in the audience. Mabon responded to the confusion voiced on Twitter by asking the panel for clarification. Cat Smith’s response still confused some, but a essentially a “Cinderella Service” means something which is neglected or ignored within the NHS.

Following on from this question the candidates descended into manifesto measuring. With Atkins flashing his “independently checked” financial tables from the UKIP manifesto. A swipe from Ollerenshaw had the first laugh of the night, when he reminded the UKIP candidate they paid an external group to verify their numbers. Before the debate descended into deciphering who’s manifesto is the biggest  leaflet of lies, Mabon moved the debate onto the next question.

Lee Dickson asked;

“As candidates and potential MPs for your respective party, in the change that there is  Hung Parliament, what will be your stance in entering coalitions or confidence and supply deals with other parties and if there is a Hung Parliament, do you see it necessary to enter into a coalition or rule as a minority Government and if so, which will you be willing to work with and why?”

Smith affirmed straight away “Labour are fighting this election to win it, I don’t want to enter into any coalitions, we’re fighting tooth and nail against the SNP.” However, Ollerenshaw was adamant Labour are yet to deny the possibility of a Labour-SNP coalition. Chris Coates, the Green candidate, emphasised his work with both the Labour and Conservative Parties in the local council and that coalitions “are the reality” in this day and age.

The next question came from Harry Carter who asked;

 “With the general election coverage particularly focused on issues like the NHS and immigration, there has been little coverage on issues to do with Climate Change. I want to know what will each party do to tackle the climate change crisis.”

Logically, Mabon went to the Greens first who stated, “We haven’t been forgetting about climate change. This underpins everything, it will affect our economy, immigration, energy supplies, what’s happening in the Mediterranean…in terms of what to do about this, we really need to de-carbonise our economy as fast as we can.”

The biggest shock (or maybe not so much) came from Atkins, who stated “there isn’t a policy that works for Green renewable energy yet.” Though Ollerenshaw wasn’t far behind in his ignorance regarding renewable energy, he argued “wind farms and solar panels don’t seem environmentally friendly…they just cover the countryside in steel.” Mabon tried to round off the question by getting the candidates to all agree they would pursue a green agenda in Lancaster, Atkins however was still adamant renewable energies don’t work.

Mabon had to continually restore order throughout the night, particularly with Atkins who felt it appropriate to interrupt the other candidates and at one point he even left the room missing some candidate responses. The twittersphere were outraged with his inability to wait his turn, my favourite tweet came from Kristina George “#LUPSQT MATTHEW PLEASE STOP MANTERRUPTING.”

The next question came from Lizzie Roberts;

“Since 2000, 22,400 people have died trying to cross Europe’s borders, mostly by sea. Given the recent developments in the Mediterranean this week what will you and your party do to ensure we stop letting innocent people drown, as well as combating the awful situations in their home countries which they are fleeing from?”

Atkins answered first, stating Nigel Farage had affirmed he wanted to take in more Syrian refugees and we need to address the situation relating to economic migration and the “problem should be spread out on many shoulders.” Long agreed the issue needs to be dealt with by “working with European neighbours and increasing the international aid budget.” Ollerenshaw also agreed with the need to maintain the international aid budget calling the situation a “vast and complicated issue.”

Smith brought the debate back to reality, “people are desperate, I cannot even imagine being like that…we are a rich nation and we don’t step up to the mark.” Coates was also on point with his answer, “this is a humanitarian issue, people are drowning through no fault of their own. We’re burying bodies in Italy we need to send help.”

During this question Atkins somehow went off on a tangent about Britain’s “moral obligation” as a Christian country to take in Christian refugees and ultimately blamed the EU for the migrant problem. This was met with laughter, confusion and disbelief from the audience.

Mabon then took a question from twitter, “How do the candidates propose to represent the students if they’re elected?” Long stated, “tuition fees were a mistake, we shouldn’t have done that it wasn’t right, I want to push for a fairer tuition fee system.” The phrase “we’ve heard it all before” sprung to mind.  The Greens stated they want to abolish tuition fees and clear all student debt, this is funded, apparently, by their “fully costed manifesto” which became a buzzword for all the candidates.

Ollerenshaw highlighted the number of jobs the coalition have made “1.9 million” and stated he intends to keep pushing for new jobs for graduates. Smith’s support for the lowering of tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000 under Labour’s plan didn’t seem to hit the spot, but she affirmed she wants free education. Atkins then made another clanger, stating he wants science and technology subjects to be fully funded, to which Smith replied “so you want all the subjects which are dominated by men to be free?”

The final question came from Sue Mccormick;

“In 2010 when the coalition took office, The Trussell Trust were providing food banks to 40,000 people in financial distress. By 2014 that figure had risen to over 900,000. What is the cause of this, why was it allowed to happen and what would you do to swiftly deal with the shame of nearly 1 million people hungry in our rich country?

All the candidates agreed it’s shameful, a scandal and the system is wrong.  Ollerenshaw argued the coalition has been tackling unemployment and they’re still trying to deal with the” backlog of 2010.” Smith took a personal approach telling the story of her sister who, on a zero hour contract, had to resort to a food bank to feed her family, “we need to start tackling the cost of living crisis.”

To end the debate each candidate was given 30 seconds to state why they should be the MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood.

Long: “I was to fight for an equal society, with an evidence led policy.”

Atkins: “I am in UKIP because I think we’re honest with you, if you don’t believe me look at the facts.”

Smith: “I want to be a strong local voice for you. You can choose – tax the mansions or the bedrooms.”

Coates: “Two words – Caroline Lucas…Vote Green, vote for what you believe in.”

Ollerenshaw: “Please don’t turn it back to the very people who crashed the car before us.”

Whether the debate helped students determine who to vote for is questionable, but clearly it demonstrated the political passion of Lancaster students who put the candidates through the paces. However the universal question from the night  was  “Can we vote for the Chair? #Mabon4MP”

By Lizzie Roberts

[Image Credit: LUPS twitter page]

LUSU – Make Grad Ball Affordable or Provide an Alternative

Grad ball is a key end of year celebration students look forward to throughout their degree, however many have been taken aback by the price of this year’s event. Though most appreciate the time and effort that has gone into making this a memorable night, the fact is most students cannot justify, or do not have the funds for, such an expenditure.

One frustrating aspect is the unclear information given about the event so far. The price for a ticket is £49.50 with a purple card and without £59.50, or the early bird ticket (exclusive to purple card holders) for £44.50. This ticket includes admission only. In addition to this there is the price for transport, £10.50, plus any clothes, drinks or meals out. Added together, for anyone without a purple card, this leaves the night easily heading into the triple figures, a sum the average student just does not have lying around. A price break down has now been given, but for the purple card discounted price only, therefore the reason for the full price is still unclear. Add to this the price of robes for graduation, and other expenditures at the end of the year, it seems safe to say that turn out at this year’s grad ball will be a lot lower than previous.

LUSU should be obliged to put students first, and therefore ought to provide a cheaper grad ball alternative. We have the resource of the Great Hall or marquees, and the square manages to hold far more for Campus Fest which is given to students for free. Though a little less glamorous, for those that cannot afford to attend, a simple extra event like this would make all the difference to their end of year celebrations. On top of this, our student union has access to a wide range of talent within the student body that they are not taking advantage of. There a student bands, DJs and other acts who would be happy to entertain us for a far cheaper price, or simply a free ticket. As well as saving money, this would make it a more student-centred celebration where we could appreciate the talent within our year.

On top of this, the fact that students have to pay in person rather than online shows a lack of forethought by the LUSU staff. Though it may be hard to organise the selling of tickets online, this has been managed previously for events such as Extrav. At this time most third year students are focused on coursework and revision and will find it hard to spend most of the day queuing in Alexandra Square (though this year that queue may be a little shorter). All this, coupled with the secrecy of where our money is going, has left many students feeling LUSU is taking advantage of the excitement surrounding grad ball.

Given the venue and the acts the price is sure to be high, but this does not change the fact that, as good value as it may be, most of the student body simply cannot afford it. Like many others I will be banking my attendance on my purple card and hopefully an early bird ticket. However, even if I can attend I will be celebrating the end of my degree without close friends who are what make the celebration special. This feels like a failure on behalf of my union, one of whose main job is meant to be ensuring we can all celebrate at the end of the year.

With two months to go till the end of the year, and a wealth of talent within the student body, it is plausible for an alternative celebration to be a success. The key aim of the student union should be making sure everyone can attend if they wish to, not just if they can afford to. This could either be by an alternative option for those who are happy to miss out on extras for the chance to still attend a celebration, or LUSU lowering the price of the current grad ball.

LUSU, prove that students are your first concern and put your hard work to good use. Give us a grad ball to remember, mainly because we can afford to attend it.

By Katie Smith

[Image Credit: DaveBleasdale]

Right 2 Education Week @ Lancaster University

This year is the seventieth year since the Butler reform act in 1944, the act that established universal education in the UK. The government recognised that education is a right, not a privilege. Unfortunately this is not the case everywhere.

The week beginning the 17th November is Right 2 Education Week. A campaign set up by Birzeit University, a Palestinian University in the Occupied West Bank, it aims to raise awareness of the limits to Palestinian education and the basic rights they are denied for having the misfortune of being born in Occupied or blockaded lands.

In solidarity with the students of Palestine and to raise awareness of this serious issue, Lancaster Friends of Palestine Society is holding several events throughout the week, including a film screening of Tears of Gaza and background talks on many of the Israel-Palestine issues.

These talks aim to enrich your knowledge of the conflict and hopefully underscore the vulnerability of education there. Alongside this, there will be stalls with leaflets containing more information, and also cake stalls; the proceeds from sales and any donations that you may kindly make, will go to Project Hope, a Palestinian charity providing education and opportunities to Palestinian children.

Palestinians are denied ‘the right to education’ stipulated in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, due to this military occupation. This is a basic, legal right for all, denied to them by a government and military that ultimately decides their fate. Below is just some examples of how the right to education has been denied or severely limited to Palestinian students.

In Gaza, the illegal blockade has meant that children either cannot leave to further their education at university, or cannot return to their families if they do so. During the latest conflict this summer, 2,139 Gazan were killed, 490 of whom were children and 300 children wounded, more than 20,000 homes were reduced to rubble and Gaza’s infrastructure severely damaged. Including United-Nations schools being directly targeted by Israeli forces.

Before the latest conflict, education in Gaza was extremely limited with schools severely overcrowded, electricity and power only available for a few hours each day, and limited materials allowed to enter Gaza due to the illegal Israeli siege on the territory. Groups have found that the majority of Gaza’s children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety and trauma related disorders. Most children in Gaza know no other reality than war, conflict and bloodshed. Most have seen family members and friends killed as a result of Israel’s numerous offences against Gaza. Under such conditions, Palestinian students have not only been denied a variety of human rights- including their right to education- but have been denied their very childhood.

In the Occupied West Bank, students are frequently harassed and delayed on their way to school and university; these delays regularly last over two hours or they simply will not be allowed through. Of these cases, it is often during crucial exam period. Can you imagine having to enter through a military checkpoint on your way to university each day? At the end of 2012, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs counted that there was approximately 532 physical obstructions a month across the Occupied West Bank.

Students have to walk past heavily-armed Israeli forces and are subject to humiliating searches. It is well documented that students have been assaulted at checkpoints and can be detained by Israeli forces. It is hard to imagine what Palestinian students have to endure on a daily basis to access their right to education.

Between 2003 and 2005, the Israeli government was investing less than a third as much money in a Palestinian student than it did a Jewish student, and following 180 assaults on schools during that time IDF forces, 180 children and teachers died.

The plight of Palestinian education is a moral outrage, one that has continued for too long. No child should have their work despoiled by armed forces or wait hours at military checkpoints simply to get to school.

We aim to raise awareness of the abuses of Palestinians’ right to education, and donate some money for a very worthwhile charity helping to end these abuses. We ask that you support the Friends of Palestine in supporting the students of Palestinian for their right to education.

Please visit our Facebook page for more information on the week and events.

By Dan Morrison and The Friends of Palestine Society


PPR Staff Victorious in Charity Rematch

On a bitterly cold November evening the Lancaster PPR staff and students came head to head once again in a match to end all matches, in aid of raising money for Children in Need. After the embarrassing 8-4 staff loss back in March, they were out to win.

From start to finish deceitful tactics were used to defeat the students, including stealing one of their best players Sam Mace as goal keeper. The student team came close to scoring on several occasions, but Sam’s defending expertise kept the goals at bay.

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Many dirty tricks were employed by the staff, most notably by Captain Simon Mabon, who at one point physically restrained student player Georgi when he got a bit too close to the goal.

The main disappointment of the game however was Theo Sheehy’s lack of denim hot pants this year. But he did make it up with some rather fetching luminous green boots.

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The first half ended with the score at 0-0 and the staff increasingly getting aggressive towards the nifty, fast paced, youthful students. But neither side were able to break the scoring stalemate.

The second half ensued with numerous dodgy tackles from either side, including Rob Pilkington almost losing his head to Matthew Johnson’s boots. Student supporters on the sidelines called “tyranny of the academics” as the staff continued to use devious devices to run rings around the student team, preventing them from scoring at every opportunity.

Just as the spectators were losing hope that anyone had the ability to score, in the ninth minute staff team member and PhD student Gareth sunk a goal into the student net. Exceptional time wasting began to proceed from the staff as they attempted to hold onto their lead in the final minutes.

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Tension between the student team began to boil over as Theo’s boots didn’t help his passing abilities and shots from Connor and Grant continued to be off target.

The match came to an end with the score 1 – 0 to the staff.

Donations given at the match, as well as proceeds from a bake sale, currently totals over £300. A great effort from all involved, with over £100 more on what was raised last year.

By Lizzie Roberts

(p.s. this match report was completely unbiased)

LDB Speaks to Owen Jones: Journalism 101

Lancaster University held their first Assembly For Change this weekend, with prominent speakers such as MP Lisa Nandy, activist Peter Tatchell and journalist and writer Owen Jones. The Lancaster Despatch Box managed to steal a few minutes with Owen before his speech on Saturday to ask him some tips and advice for budding journalists.

When you left University how did you get into the journalism industry?

I didn’t want to be a journalist or a writer so it was not intentional. At Uni I started writing for the student paper but only towards the end because I started panicking about what I was going to put on my CV towards the end,  oh no I don’t have any extracurricular activities sort of thing! What I did originally was I wanted to find ways to get messages across and I worked for a long time for Trade Unions and the Labour Party and then I had an idea for a book. It was the first book I did and I was told to narrow it down a bit, focus it more and I really wanted to talk about class. That book got rejected by every publisher going and eventually Verso took it on and it did better than expected because of the timing basically, and off the back of that I was asked to write for newspapers.

So you didn’t exactly do it in the conventional way?

No I mean I had a blog, I set up a blog and things and off the back off that Comment Is Free got in touch to ask me write a couple of pieces, it wasn’t my aim though.

Would you recommend going through the conventional  methods of getting an NCTJ or sticking to grassroots methods?

Well I didn’t and I think the unpaid internship things is a real problem because only people who can live off the bank of mum and dad can get into journalism and I think that’s ridiculous. So I think setting up a blog that’s well presented, buy your own domain with your name in it, however narcissistic that is, present it with a nice banner at the top, do blog pieces 600-800 words, spell check them. That’s what people like Vagenda and Laurie Penny did, these are people who were noticed off the back of their blogs. And use twitter and social media to get them out there, anything to bypass this media system is good.

The journalism industry is really over saturated today, do you think there is room for budding journalists?

I mean people need  to find niches, finding something you’re passionate about and branch out from that I guess, doing citizen journalism, having a blog where you go out in the community and give a platform to voices not heard and find things that other journalists aren’t doing, be imaginative about it.

Do you think social media and the role of online journalism is going to have a significant impact on young people in the General Election next year?

I hope so because social media is about democratising the media for me and about giving a platform to unheard voices and seeing angles that aren’t seen. It holds the mainstream media to account and picks out some of the myths and lies spread by the mainstream media, so yeah I think social media is absolutely key.

Do you have any advice for how to get more shares and views on blogs and how to get yourself noticed?

I mean obviously there is a saturation in the market, but it’s about finding things which other people aren’t doing, going into the community and things. For example a big feature on people in Lancaster on benefits and their experiences. Things which will get broader attention. There’s lots of opinions out there but  people also want to hear those voices. I think positivity in journalism is really big part of it and using social media is key.

The Despatch Box managed to record most of Owen’s key note speech which can be found below. It was a stirring dialogue and we highly recommend you all take a listen.

By Lizzie Roberts and Liam Stott

Students Continue to Be Pawns in the UCU vs University Game – the Marking Boycott

Since October 2013 the University and College Union (UCU) has staged a series of strikes over their 1% pay increase, which in real terms equates to a 13% pay cut since 2009. Students across numerous UK universities have been affected by cancelled lectures, seminars and office hours. But the latest action the UCU is to embark upon has riled students to another level and left others with mixed feelings. A marking boycott due to commence on 28th April, Union members will refuse to mark assignments, exams, dissertations and lab work, which could even result in disrupting 3rd years graduating.

The UCU’s main reasoning for the strikes and why they have been “pushed” to the extreme lengths of the boycott is due to Vice Chancellors enjoying an “average pay raise of 5.1% last year and an average salary of £235,000,” whilst lecturers received the real terms pay cut. Though the Union states the boycott could still be avoided if, as Sally Hunt UCU general secretary stated, “one of the employers would negotiate with us over pay.”  Hunt went further to say “we have provided a generous window of opportunity for the employers to address our just demands, which we, and students, hope they take.”

It seems bizarre for the UCU to be speaking on behalf of the students however, as many are very disgruntled over the proposed marking boycott. Some have commented “where were they when we were protesting over the rise of our tuition fees?” and “We pay £9k. Marking our essays is their job…Sick of students been inadvertently affected, punishing us even though we are paying more. Getting ridiculous.” However, opinions are mixed and some students support the UCU actions stating “It makes me angry that they’ve been driven to the boycott, not the boycott itself… the strikes have been pretty ineffectual and this will make higher authorities listen I guess.”

Last week Lancaster University students received an email warning of the proposed boycott stating “We have taken steps to try to minimise the impact on students if the marking boycott nevertheless goes ahead. Most students should be able to graduate or progress normally.” Details of these “steps taken” are still unknown and students took to writing on the Student Union chalk board in Alex Square to state their discontent over the boycott.

Just as students suffered as a consequence to the strikes earlier in the academic year, they will continue to suffer if this marking boycott goes ahead. Paying for a University degree is like paying for a service and if this boycott goes ahead students will not be getting the service they deserve and are paying for. It is unfortunate that UCU deems the threat of not mark student’s work as a necessary and effective step in order to achieve their demands. Hopefully talks between the Union and employers will succeed in preventing this action from going ahead.

 

By Lizzie Roberts


[Image Credit: Marlon E]