SHALAKA BAPAT discusses what ‘Home’ means to the speakers at the TEDxUCLWomen event. Throughout history, women have been confined to domestic, private spaces. ‘A woman’s place is at home,’ ‘a woman’s place is in the kitchen’ and ‘go make me a sandwich’ are all phrases that I daresay many women have heard (from men – who else?). However this year’s TEDxUCLWomen event saw the theme of ‘home’ alternatively as a space of agency, of action and of comfort. Last year’s theme was ‘Intersect’, and the event very much continued in this vein. Unlike many platforms for ideas and culture, TEDxUCLWomen has diversity at the very core of its being. This was visible in so many aspects: from the team of incredible women who organised the event, the physical accessibility of the space, the subsidised tickets for community groups, and the vegetarian food that was served. It is the small but crucial…Continue Reading

What else but home?

TOMMY WALTERS introduces ‘Back In House’, a workers’ campaign to end outsourcing and zero-hours contracts at the University of London. It seems almost too fitting that Senate House, the building that inspired George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, is today living up to its connotations of exploitation and hypocrisy. In Orwell’s 1984, the slogan ‘FREEDOM IS SLAVERY’ is ironically plastered across the walls of the ‘enormous pyramidical structures of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air.’ In our parallel universe, workers at the University of London are given the supposed freedom of flexible contracts when outsourced to private contractors, but are in turn underpaid, overworked and deprived of their basic working rights. On Tuesday 21st November, to coincide with the University of London’s Foundation Day dinner attended by Princess Anne at Senate House, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) staged a strike and a simultaneous public protest demanding an end to…Continue Reading

Bring them Back in House

THOMAS CURY outlines the demands to fund and improve UCL’s Student Psychological Services.   There’s a mental health crisis going on across universities in the UK, and UCL is certainly not exempt. Within the last 10 years, the number of students who have disclosed mental health issues to their institution has increased fivefold to nearly 15,000 students. Student dropout rates due to mental health problems have also skyrocketed, with a record 1180 students leaving university early in 2014-2015, a 210% increase from 2008-2009. In 2015, some 87,914 students had requested counselling. As more students seek out mental health support than ever before, UCL’s services have been exposed as severely overstretched, understaffed and underfunded. The ever-increasing student body at UCL, which has risen from 19,000 in 2006 to 39,000 today, has not been matched with a corresponding rise in funds for the Student Psychological Services (SPS). A 2016 report conducted by the Student Union…Continue Reading

Fund Our Mental Health Services

BENEDICT YEO outlines the current flaws in UCL’s attempts at diversifying its curriculum. For an institution that brands itself as ‘London’s Global University’, there is a worrying flaw in the current UCL curriculum: there is a Eurocentric dominance of perspectives and content, with a failure to provide a more inclusive debate on ideas beyond Europe. Back in 2014, students from UCL’s Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) Students’ Network launched a ‘Why is My Curriculum White’ campaign, which included a short film exploring the experiences and opinions of students on the diversity of UCL’s curriculum. The video was a response to the study done by the NUS in 2009 on the experiences of Black students in higher education. The study results revealed that ‘42% did not believe their curriculum reflected issues of diversity, equality, and discrimination’ and ‘34% stated they felt unable to bring their perspective as a Black student to lectures and tutor…Continue Reading

UCL’s White Curriculum

SAVAGE Sounds presents ‘Intersect’, the first podcast of the year.  In their first outing, George Horner and Alizay Agha discuss the relationship between Black Lives Matter and music. From Beyoncé to emerging artists such as Tiff Massey, they investigate the symbiotic relationship between their music and the movement. In addition, they discuss the different attitudes towards Islam within the British press, including Channel 4’s polemic documentary ‘My Week as a Muslim‘. Also mentioned in this podcast: British Black History Month, Harvard BLM   Links to everything mentioned in the podcast:   

PODCAST: INTERSECT

ETHAN RHYS-JENKINS’ short is a punchy and enlightening advert for the Rent Strike protest. He is in conversation with HASSAN SHERIF to explain where the film fits into the larger movement, and where the movement itself is currently headed.  With Cut the Rent’s Free Ed demo racing towards us on 15th November in London, we revisited Ethan Rhys-Jenkins’ short, ‘Rent Strike’, which documents the student effort during last year’s movement. ‘I was working very closely with Rent Strike at the time’, he explains, ‘so this is my contribution to them – a sort of advert/infomercial just about the campaign, which is in dozens of other universities as well. The idea was to have this floating around, spreading the word.’ As a first year student, I was not acquainted with quite how widespread the multi-university movement really is. Ethan’s film (as well as Selma Rezgui’s article last year) pinpoints the massive successes developed over several years…Continue Reading

Cut The Rent

CAITLIN LAW explains what’s been happening at the IOE Bar and why she started a petition to save it.  In December 2014 UCL merged with the Institute Of Education (IOE), making UCL the biggest higher education institution in London. UCL management emphasised new opportunities to pool the academic expertise of the two institutions, but little was done to safeguard the social identity, community and history of the IOE. Although officially labelled a merger, this alliance might more appropriately be dubbed an absorption. While a UCL student is unlikely to have felt any impact of the partnership, staff and students at the IOE have been obliged to adapt to new management systems and restricted independence, and now a loss of control over their main social space. I started working at the IOE Bar less than a year after the merger, as part of the first round of student employees hired from…Continue Reading

Why I’m Campaigning to Save the IOE Bar

SELMA REZGUI reports on UCL’s Cut the Rent campaign’s recent success after they win £1.49 million in concessions from the university. The UCL Cut the Rent campaign has won £1.49 million from the university after five months of rent strike, showing that direct action yields results. The second rent strike in UCL halls in the last two years has come to a close after UCL has pledged concessions to student campaigners. UCL Accommodation will offer £600,000 of bursaries for first-year undergraduate students in the 2017/18 academic year, and will work with UCL Accommodation to reallocate a further £600,000 into rent cuts for the most affordable halls for 2018/19. After a five-month-long rent strike by 200 students, over the course of which strikers faced repeated threats of eviction from university management, UCL Cut the Rent have won concessions from UCL management, including an offer of £600,000 to fund accommodation bursaries for students in need of financial support in the…Continue Reading

Rent Strike Victory

CHARLIE MACNAMARA reports on the ongoing Occupation at SOAS as workers and students clash with management over justice for SOAS workers. On Monday 12 June students and workers at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) were attending a rally to commemorate the anniversary of the ‘SOAS 9’ — 9 migrant workers cruelly arrested and deported by the UK Border Agency at SOAS in 2009, abetted by SOAS’s management — when the management struck again with a shock announcement: the SOAS refectory is to be closed this August and a number of catering staff, already on zero-hour contracts, are to be made redundant. Later on Monday, students occupied the offices of the university’s directorate and on Tuesday 13 June catering staff held a walkout, with UNISON officially entering negotiations with SOAS management on their behalf, with future industrial action on the table. The SOAS Justice for Workers campaign, backed by…Continue Reading

Occupying SOAS: Justice for Workers and an End to Outsourcing

CHARLIE MACNAMARA reports on resistance from academics to management at UCL. The Academic Board at University College London are set to clash with Senior Management this Thursday at a meeting which threatens to reignite disputes over the institution’s woeful finances and increasing corporatisation. A group of high-ranking academics at UCL have formally called for a ‘Special Meeting’ to be held on Thursday 18 May, where they plan to convene a new ‘Governance Committee’ of the Academic Board with the task of ‘scrutinising strategic decisions’ about UCL’s future made by Senior Management.  Their intention is to return more democratic control to the Academic Board — UCL’s 1400-strong committee of senior academics — amid concerns about the Senior Management Team’s corporate regime and management of the College’s finances. This move comes shortly after it was revealed in The Guardian that 68% of UCL’s Academic Board have doubts about the financial management of the College and serious concerns about the…Continue Reading

‘A Battle for the Soul of UCL’