May Week News In Brief

21 June 2012

Protesters to back Owen Holland’s appeal

Members of the campaign to reinstate Owen Holland (pictured above) are to hold a protest on Friday to express their support for him as his appeal takes place. Holland was rusticated from University for 8 terms for his part in the protest against David Willetts in November 2011. The campaigners also held a punt protest on Suicide Sunday to draw attention to the cause. The campaign has been backed by the Cambridge branch of UCU and CUSU, and members of other universities such as Royal Holloway and Sussex have also pledged their support.

Penguin perversion

Cambridge journal Polar Review has printed the 100-year-old observations of British doctor and naturalist George Murray Levick, the only scientist ever to have observed an entire breeding season of the Adelie penguins in the South Pole. Levick, who was shocked by the penguins’ behaviour while trapped by ice during Captain Robert Scott’s ill-fated expedition of 1910-1913, watched rape, homosexuality and young males having sex with frozen dead females. Said to have been held back by Edwardian etiquette, he circulated copies codified in Greek to selected scientists, which have now been used for the first ever publication of his findings.

Caius former master dies

Professor Peter Gray, who was master of Gonville and Caius College in the late 1980s and early 1990s, died last week. The professor had first come to the college in 1943, after which point he quickly became a professor of Physical Chemistry, moving to Leeds University in 1955 before returning to Cambridge in the late 1980s. He eventually became a world expert in the field of chemical combustion, concentrating on fuels burned in energy-producing systems like vehicle engines. His funeral was held in the chapel of Gonville and Caius last week.

Islander students to be charged overseas rates

A double blow is being served to prospective Cambridge students living in the Isle of Man and Channel Islands as they are to be charged international student tuition fees, which start at £13,000, from September 2013. Oxbridge students from the islands already pay an additional ‘college fee’ on top of tuition and accommodation fees, which totals £4,500-5,500 for Cambridge students, and £6,200 for Oxford. The Department of Education and Children, which has previously paid the ‘college fee’ has already declared they will not be able to cope with the fee rise.

Official student complaints against universities rise

The number of students carrying complaints beyond the internal complaints procedures of their university to the independent adjudicator has risen by 20% in the past year. The annual report from the Office of the Independent Adjudicator has shown that complaints rose for the sixth successive year in 2011, especially driven by complaints against plagiarism. The NUS called for more clarity regarding plagiarism regulations, particularly for international students. The total of 1,605 complaints featured higher levels from students in subjects such as law, medicine and dentistry.

Fewer retakes for A-level students

The exam watchdog, Ofqual, have stated that A-levels should be strengthened by allowing students only one chance to retake each exam. Ofqual chief, Glenys Stacey, said January modules should be scrapped and the focus shifted fully onto end-of-year exams, which would “re-balance the emphasis of A-levels onto the learning rather than the assessment”. Questions also surround the role of AS levels, which could be scrapped altogether in the future. If proposals are approved, the first changes would be applied to A-level courses beginning in 2013.

University crime ‘league table’

Rankings from the Complete University Guide have shown that London institutions have the highest crime rate of all English and Welsh universities. The study, which is the most detailed breakdown of university crime rates performed to date, was topped by 18 London universities. The study’s author said his assessment of robberies, burglaries and violent crimes within three-mile radii of university campuses will help potential applications “assess the risks of individual institutions”. Outside London, the highest rates were found in Manchester and Leeds, and the lowest in Buckingham, Cambridge being ranked eleventh from bottom.

Cambridge fondly remembered by Spanish Civil War evacuee

A film being premiered at the San Sebastian International Film Festival in September traces a woman’s flight of the 1937 Spanish Civil War and the support she found in Cambridge. Maria Luisa Toole, one of Spain’s 4000 ‘lost children’, was brought to England on an evacuee ship at the age of eleven. She worked as a nanny in Cambridge and met her husband who was studying at the University at the time. The animated documentary, entitled ‘To Say Goodbye’, uses first-hand recordings from Mrs Toole and others who underwent the same journey.

Oxford Jubilee vandalism

After a failed JCR motion to purchase a portrait of the Queen, celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee were further disrupted as several Oxford students defaced bunting, pulling down flags and replacing them with a hole burnt in the middle of each one. Another student displayed anti-Jubilee bunting from his window in “a small act of defiance”. Speaking to The Oxford Student, he said: “I oppose the idea that we should be celebrating sixty years of the reign of an undemocratic institution, of hierarchy, elitism and natural or hereditary superiority.”

Cambridge University hosts conference on Falklands dispute

As pressure is being placed on Britain by an Argentinean public relations campaign to enter into negotiations regarding liberation of the Falkland Islands from British control, Cambridge hosted an Anglo-Argentine cultural symposium on the question. Earlier this month, speakers including Oxford lecturer in Spanish-American studies, Ben Bollig, met to discuss the issue. Bollig said the war is “something that no Argentinean can forget – even those people who opposed the war.”

London student designs car of 2032

A student of vehicle design has won a competition run by the organisers of London Motorexpo for students of the Royal College of the Arts to design an electric car of the future. Michael Vlcek impressed judges with his innovation and creativity: his car featured doors hinged at the nose and a diamond-shaped seating arrangement which places the driver in the centre of the vehicle for maximised visibility. His design has been on show at Canary Wharf throughout the Moterexpo show this week.

Study praises intelligent technology for finding online predators

A Cambridge University study has proved the efficacy of online web safety technology as opposed to human moderation in the effort to detect online paedophiles and cyber-bullying. Crisp Thinking, a UK technology company set up in 2005, have designed intelligent software which can identify threatening areas of children’s and teen’s web activity in an instant, saving investigators of the Met Police huge amounts of time. The study has shown the technology to be 98.4% accurate in identifying online predators, spamming and bullying.

Student steals golf cart

A student at the University of Georgia was arrested last week for theft of a golf cart, and for driving under the influence of alcohol and without headlights. An officer arrested Soroush Samimi, 21, after watching the cart weave across both sides of the road in the early hours of the morning. Samimi claimed he’d found the golf cart and flipped it over to prevent the fuel leaking and causing an explosion, and was driving it to check it still worked.

National press outraged at May Week festivities

The Daily Mail has once again declared shock at the “reckless” behaviour of Cambridge students. Publishing photos of steady-looking ball-goers “staggering” home and one suited individual napping on a punt, the press have uttered surprise that the “elitist” students, “mostly educated at expensive public schools before arriving at Cambridge” take part in “debauched events”. Headlines such as “Toffs let it all hang out at student ball” have been attacked for being poorly-researched, but others have expressed concern for the “future leaders” of the country.

Lingerie models hold Mandarin lessons

A website set up by a University of Nottingham graduate features language lessons led by underwear-clad Chinese “teachers”. SexyMandarin.com has gone ‘viral’, featuring lessons such as ‘What time is it?’ conducted by two semi-dressed tutors rolling on a bed with pillows. The website’s creator said he wanted to make it easy and appealing for people to learn the mammoth task of Chinese. However, several eminent Chinese feminists have complained against the site, accusing the site’s use of “exoticised” Chinese women as “dated”.

TCS News Team

Photo Credit – Devon Buchanan