ASYIA IFTIKHAR reports on last week’s virtual Town Hall meeting about experiences of race and racism at UCL.  It was an historic Town Hall meeting for UCL on Friday 19th June. With almost nine hundred participants, it was the largest that had ever taken place. Michael Arthur, the Provost, began the meeting on a humble note, addressing UCL’s historic ties to eugenics. At the end of February, UCL’s enquiry on this was released, though it was sidelined by COVID-19. In light of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, he reassured listeners that this enquiry would be revisited, with UCL buildings tied to eugenicists already being renamed in response. Ready to hand the discussion over to the panel, he gave an apology for the vague statement UCL initially released, clarifying his focus on this being an issue pertinent to the Black (not BAME) community and the importance of listening and doing better. …Continue Reading

UCL Town Hall: A Conversation About Race

SOPHIE CUNDALL reviews UCL Drama Society’s Romeo and Juliet. From the moment you walk in through the creaking doors of the 19th century gothic church in which UCL drama’s Romeo and Juliet is staged, you know it will be something special, and quite unlike any other version of this canonic play. As you settle into a wooden pew, you’re greeted with the soft sound of sobbing from a mascara-streaked face. The grief element of the play is immediately pronounced, particularly when you realise it’s actually Benvolio on stage, not Juliet or her Romeo. This also nicely introduces another refreshing element to the piece: the casting tosses gender aside, a delightful, and actually quite Shakespearean, twist on the tale that adds to the plethora of modern approaches that make it a fresh and current version.  The performance itself from the actors is incredibly captivating: the pace never drops, and they arguably…Continue Reading

Romeo and Juliet

THEA NOWELL reviews the UCL Societies Showcase Night at the Bloomsbury Theatre. First opening its doors in 1968 as the Central Collegiate Building Auditorium, The Bloomsbury Theatre has supported and showcased the best of UCL’s performing arts since its conception, working together with students and researchers to bring exciting talent and ground-breaking discoveries to the stage. Famous guests include UCL alumnus Ricky Gervais, and Adele. The theatre closed its doors in 2015 for a major renovation project, and now, having reopened last year, fifty years after its first performance, The Bloomsbury Theatre proudly marked its rebirth with a showcase from ten of UCL’s performing arts societies. The showcase celebrated Bloomsbury Theatre’s official relaunch, honouring the relationship between the university and the theatre. Organised and directed by George W.X. Barker and hosted by Rare FM’s Caycee Peskett-Hill and Stage Crew’s Vojta Smekal, the showcase was the perfect opportunity for UCL’s societies…Continue Reading

Societies Showcase Night

JAMIE HARDIE reviews UCL Drama Society’s Eigengrau and Girl in Yellow Raincoat at the Bloomsbury Studio.  Drama Society’s term three double bill in the Bloomsbury Studio was a fitting end to the 2017-2018 academic year. From the fearful uncertainty in Girl in Yellow Raincoat, to the clash between feminism and predatory masculinity in Eigengrau, the production seemed an accurate reflection of the confusion and conflict that has filled our headlines in recent months. The evening began with Penelope Skinner’s Eigengrau, a disparate, irreverent, and at times gruesome tragicomedy concerning the lives of four entangled characters. The central struggle of the play is between manipulative lothario Mark (William Mead) and staunch feminist Cassie (Aude Naudi-Bonnemaison). The performances are strong: Mark is skin-crawlingly authentic, while Cassie is brought to life with fiery passion. In contrast to these tough characters, the touchingly melancholic Tim (James Fairhead) and the frenetic and scattered Rose (Ema Mulla) stack up as the casualties of Mark’s callous antics.…Continue Reading


MONTY SHIELD looks at the historical importance of Malet Street as a space of student protest. On dreich winter days, Malet Street stands largely deserted, save for the odd huddle of students or a solitary parking attendant. But on others, it is radically transformed. Thousands of activists have found themselves entwined with this place as a political battleground. It was recently the meeting point for the last major dispute between campus workers and university management prior to the Corbyn surge: an arena for thousands of students to build up energy and march on Parliament. I’ve been lucky enough to have been thrown into some of these movements since arriving as a student in London in 2013. On arrival at UCL, as an earnest young revolutionary with little experience of activism and labour struggle, I joined the 6am picket line of the ‘3 Cosas’ (Three Things) strike. This campaign, organised through the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain…Continue Reading

A Place of Pickets and Protest

RUBY HARROP discusses the developments of UCL’s Fossil Free as part of a wider campaign to promote divestment from the fossil fuel industry and reinvest in renewable energy.  UCL publicly states in its ‘Green Environmental Sustainability Policy’ that it is committed to conducting itself ‘ethically and fairly, and in an environmentally sustainable manner, locally, nationally and globally.’ Simultaneously, it invests £12.1 million in the fossil fuel industry, including companies such as Shell, BP and Rio Tinto. The disparity is shockingly hypocritical. Why would an institution completely undermine its purported sustainable, ethical values in its funding from companies that danger human health and the environment? Climate change is fast escalating into a global problem that inflicts the most malicious harm on those most vulnerable. The sea level rise that results in severe flooding and storms, agriculture deterioration and damage to human health affect a disproportionate amount of the the world’s poorest populations in the Global South. I need…Continue Reading

UCL: Fossil Fools

Assistant Director GEORGIA GEE tells us what to expect at UCL’s 2018 dance showcase, Exhibition This year, UCL’s Dance Society has gone beyond the traditional notions of movement to create a show that takes inspiration from a variety of artistic forms. Exhibition celebrates the fusion of dance with other creative media, such as literature and visual art. The show’s three motifs, ‘The Written,’ ‘The Visual,’ and ‘The Object,’ required choreographers to create a dance stemming from a source of artistic inspiration, such as a poem, a painting or even just a commonplace object. Back in November, after presenting our concept, I could never have expected the diversity and multiplicity of bids we would receive. From a re-enactment of Picasso’s Guernica as a tap piece, to the translation of sign language into contemporary movement, the ideas were innovative and thorough. Since then, choreographers have used their initial stimuli to create and…Continue Reading


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: