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  • The beheading of numerous

    American and British nationals,

    including, most recently, Alan

    Henning, has set a unique precedent for

    extremist groups with their use of media.

    e ISs e ective use of propaganda has

    given them a massive amount of expo-

    sure and allowed them to gain coverage

    worldwide. eir social media presence

    has been marked out as more sophisti-

    cated than many global businesses.

    e development of the IS has spread

    all over the world only aided by social

    media. e IS, an acronym for Islamic

    State, is a radical Islamic group. at

    said, it should never be seen as a group

    that is representative of Islam itself. e

    actions that the IS are undertaking are,

    without doubt, extreme.

    Luckily, the raw lm of each behead-

    ing is not easily found online. But it is

    there. It may be hidden from the front

    page of Google but the internet is a big

    enough space that clips of the behead-

    ings are still very much in circulation.

    Naturally all the videos were received

    with outrage across the world and they

    sparked debate about whether watch-

    ing them is the right thing to do. Many

    argue, particularly journalists, that it is

    important to watch the videos to remain

    current with the developments in the

    Middle East and necessary as fuel for

    a palpable abhorrence of the IS and its


    So why are people still watching it?

    Initial reactions of some individuals are

    to go into horror-movie enthusiast mode

    and search for the video. Weve all been

    there when someone tells you not to

    do something, your rst instinct is to

    want to do it. It is the failure to suppress

    such temptation to witness such brutali-

    ty that has increased the view count. e

    act is so removed from the reality of nor-

    mal Western life that people forget that

    it does become morally questionable to

    if they watch the videos. e need to

    con rm if the IS are as gruesome as the

    media makes out has allowed people to

    justify watching it to themselves. e

    lm Untraceable comes to mind, which

    explores the sadistic human fascination

    with watching grisly death. A serial killer

    rigs an elaborate lm set and streams

    gruesome murders live online. One vic-

    tim is tied up in a sulphuric acid bath

    with the acid concentration increases

    proportionally to the number of hits -

    with its acceleration based on the num-

    ber of website viewers at a given time.

    Despite pleas from the police not view it,

    the number increases irrevocably as cu-

    riosity overcomes revulsion and people

    are enthralled by the scene unfolding.

    In real terms, it seems now a major

    cause of concern that individuals are so

    powerfully captivated by the sick thrill

    of witnessing death. And with it the pro-

    paganda message of the IS is spreading

    easily across the Internet. ats not to

    say that anyone who decided to search

    for (naturally they are not accessible on

    mainstream sites such as the BBC, and

    require a fair amount of probing to nd),

    and watch any of the videos enjoyed it.

    at said, the BBC do not escape un-

    scathed here. eir website provides

    some video evidence of the traumatic

    events, saying that the videos contain

    some disturbing images. e most re-

    cent, brutal murder of Henning, an in-

    nocent man who was in his position only

    as a result of his benevolence towards

    others, could only be enjoyed by the

    most twisted of minds. Yet many have

    still searched and others will continue to

    do so, due to the aforementioned thrill

    of macabre scenes.

    e more views any one download of

    the video receives, the more the message

    of the IS is spread. e group is undoubt-

    edly monitoring the cyber platforms on

    which its videos are being shown. Any-

    one lying in bed watching Alan Hen-

    nings murder on a Sunday morning is

    successfully becoming another statistic

    on the ISs propaganda campaign. eir

    cause has a tangible audience online and

    these murders have so far proved to be

    the most successful way of capturing the

    publics attention.

    Similarly, the pervasive desensitisa-

    tion that increases with watching each

    new video is a danger. e risk of the

    actual footage with each new video can

    normalise violence. It seems prudent to

    note the nickname of one of the mili-

    tants: Jihadi John. One of these extrem-

    ists is a suspected homegrown English-

    man with an accent to match. With

    the widespread dissemination of these

    videos that naturally comes when large

    numbers of people have viewed them

    and are searching for them (despite the

    Mets best anti-terrorist e orts) they are

    accessible to almost any old Tom, Dick

    or Harry. Just a tiny minority of people

    may watch the murders, listen to the

    messages and actually subscribe to the


    ese deaths are being shown across

    the world in the most vicious way. Fa-

    thers, brothers, son and uncles are be-

    ing lost and we should not forget that.

    Never mind the spread of propaganda or

    political reasons to not watch the videos

    out of a sense of innate humanity we

    should not bear witness to these deaths.

    We need not encourage the spread of

    extremism. So we need to stop watching

    these beheadings.

    COMMENTtweet us @gairrhyddopemail us [email protected] visit us online at

    A New Kind of War

    Beth Muitland

    Olivier van den Bent-Kelly

    Pictured:A mural of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Caliph at the helm of ISiS declared Caliphate(Photographer: ierry

    Are we participating in ISIS media offensive by watching the beheadings of prisoners?

  • Food - 80. Travel - 80. Social-ising with colleagues - 60.Thats roughly how much it

    cost me to do my two week intern-ship in London in April, and I was lucky enough, thanks to some friends who put me up in their university halls, not to have to pay for accom-modation there.

    A recent study found that London is now officially the most expensive city to live and work in in the world, even coming above cities like Hong Kong for cost of living. A report published by research group The Building and Social Housing Foundation found that 93 per cent of new housing benefit claims made between January 2010 and December 2011 were made by households con-taining at least one employed adult, and with 40 per cent of London families reliant on housing benefits, these statistics suggest that even paid workers in London struggle to live there.

    At the same time, unpaid intern-ships are becoming increasingly popular amongst big co mpanies, meaning that hundreds of graduates are having to live and work in the big city for weeks or months with no

    income in the hopes of being able to eventually secure a job there.

    Ask any university careers advisor or recent graduate and theyll prob-ably tell you that work experience is just as important as your grades when it comes to finding a job after university. 80 per cent of the UKs graduate jobs are now located in London, where 60 per cent of the workforce were graduates in November 2013. With such a huge proportion of graduate jobs and top employers based in London, many graduates understandably set their sights on moving there after they finish university. But with the job market remaining ever competitive and more young people going to university than ever before, work experience is one way for employers to narrow down the number of applicants for jobs, and most of the short-term work experience availa-ble is either completely unpaid or provides only limited expenses which barely cover the tube fare let alone living costs (I came across one which paid minimum wage, but only after youd completed the placement, which is obviously of little help while youre working).

    Of course one of the major bene-fits of a work experience placement is the opportunity to network with people already employed in the industry or company youre hoping to work in after you graduate, mak-ing it arguably just as essential to keep money aside for post-work drinks as it is to pay for things like food and travel. Socialising with col-leagues might be the difference that helps you make a good and memora-ble impression on people who you might hope to work with again in the future. This essential would be a major financial drain for any unem-ployed person, let alone an unem-ployed person living in the most expensive city in the world, and yet secures no guarantee of a prospect of postgraduate employment.

    None of this is really a problem if youre from London or are able to come up with enough money to pay for the notoriously expensive accom-modation there during the intern-ship, but it puts young people from other areas of the country at a mas-sive disadvantage. Coming from the rural heart of Devon, I never would have been able to consider a work placement in London without the

    help of my friends. Increasingly, it seems that getting a top job in London is becoming largely a privi-lege of the rich, tenacious, and native Londoners with even a place at a hostel costing around 350 for two weeks.

    With all this in mind, it seems there should be provisions in place for students from outside of London who could never afford to finance themselves through a work place-ment there. They would have the opportunity to undertake a paid placement or one which provides accommodation and food. As a country weve become extremely London-centric; the majority of our media is based there, along with our government and banks. Its not only unfair that the opportunities for many students to work in those industries are limited. Its also wor-rying, because it means that some of the most important institutions in our country are not as diverse and representative as they should be. Its time to bring an end to this emerging cycle of London for the Londoners and start helping students to gain the equal employment opportunities that they should already have.

    COMMENTtweet us @gairrhyddopemail us [email protected] visit us online at

    London Calling to the faraway towns

    Jamie McKay

    Olivier van den Bent-Kelly

    Pictured:A still from the #NotInMyName campaign video

    As ISIS continue their crusade to establish a permanent ter-ritory, the list of atrocities

    that they have committed is increas-ing. Worldwide they have gained a reputation for brutality and an atti-tude that shows no fear of repercus-sions.

    On the same day as the most re-cent Siege on the city of Koban be-gan, Kurdish student and NUS mem-ber Roza Salih along with other NUS National Executive Council mem-bers led a motion acknowledging the su ering of the Iraqi people un-der the regime of Saddam Hussein, the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq war and in the past few months, the rise of ISIS. e motion also condemned the use of rape and other forms of sexual violence against women in ISIS-held areas.

    ose backing the motion called for the student movement to cam-paign alongside Iraqi student, trade unionist, secularist and womens organisations. e motion made it very clear that while they strongly

    condemned the actions of ISIS they were expressing no con dence or trust in the US military intervention.Controversially, this motion was op-posed by the NUS Black Students O cer, Malia Bouattia, who claimed that the motion was Islamophobic and pro-US intervention. According to Daniel Cooper, an elected mem-ber of the NUS NEC who backed the motion, the NUS President Toni Pearce moved the debate on after a single round of speeches with no op-portunity to respond to these points. A large number of NEC members either voted against it or abstained causing the motion to fail. What the NUS executive committee have done has resulted in a complete failure in proving that students col-lectively are against warfare enacted in this way and against all terrorism. The shock it has caused across social media is justified. It seems inexplica-ble that the NUS chooses to hold a stance on the Israeli-Palestinian con-flict that boycotts Israel, but fails to support those in danger from an ac-

    tive terrorist organisation. Far from being reflective of the students opin-ion it is supposed to represent, NUS are doing the complete opposite. Students and young British muslims have united by promoting on social media the hashtag Not in my Name, which they are doing to express their views against ISIS. The publicity this campaign has generated is clear evidence that students want solidar-ity against this group. So why arent NUS listening to this overwhelming majority?

    The intellectual gymnastics pulled in order to justify a choice to refuse

    to condemn the most brutal and vicious non-white Muslims whilst showing indifference for secular and democratic non-white Muslims who simply want to enjoy the same freedoms we take for granted is astonishing. The National Executive Council decision last month brings shame to the NUS. Members of the NEC may boast of their stance against a bigoted motion, but in reality they have in one sweep, turned their backs on those progressives brave enough to stand against the forces of reaction in all their forms.

    The NUS is failing to reflect student views

    The capital has become steadily more elitist to those looking for work experience from outside it

    Caroline Hodges

    London is now officially the most expensive city to live and work in in the world.


    Mountaineering has obvi-ous risks. Great heights, sheer drops and sheets of

    ice are just some of the challenges faced by those who dare to reach new heights.

    On Saturday 18th October 2014 a deadly blizzard struck a popu-lar hiking route in Nepal, the An-napurna circuit at the h orung La Pass (5416 m), killing 43 hikers and leaving 518 to be rescued. Dei nitely not the i rst deaths during a moun-tain climb, and by no means the last, the appeal of mountain climbing remains because of the incredible scenes witnessed during every stage of a climb.

    h e possibility of avalanches which consume everything in their path and rapidly dump more than 30cm of fresh snow onto steep slopes do not mean that mountaineers are being put o . Dangers pile up but mountaineers keep on coming.

    h e unfortunate accident in Ne-pal has raised an age-old question, why do we climb? Famously, Sir

    George Mallory, the climber who made the i rst attempt at reaching the summit of Everest, replied be-cause it is there his response dem-onstrates how mountaineers love a bit of ambiguity. Dive deeper and climbers will tell you that climbing a mountain is an enriching experience because of the element of danger it entails, it tests their endurance and bravery, and they enjoy the camara-derie as they work as a team to reach the summit. h e principle of climb-ing is always the same; it is more than just reaching the summit.

    During the summer of 2013 Car-di University Mountaineering Club (CUMC) travelled to the European Alps. Myself and two friends were traversing the Glacier du Tour by jumping between cracks in the ice know as crevasses. We reached La Jonction, a section of the route noto-rious for hiding wide and deep cre-vasses caused by the con uence of three glaciers. It was my turn to jump across. I made it to the other side with no problem but I soon heard

    the sound of a dull crack and, with no time to react, the ice collapsed beneath my feet, and I plunged 8m into the depths of the glacier until I was caught by the rope I was tied to, swinging me like a pendulum into the vertical face of the rigid ice wall.

    Twenty minutes later, with the help of my friends, I managed to climb out su ering only a bruised and swollen left hand. We looked at each other and decided to retreat back to the valley. A couple of days later we summited Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the European Alps at 4810m. h e route we took involved confronting hazards such climbing in darkness, knife edge ridges, rock-falls, freezing temperatures, ava-lanches, crevasses, low oxygen, and mild altitude sickness. Despite the very real risk of accidents I return to mountaineering again and again.

    We only spent 10 minutes at the summit of Mont Blanc, but the most poignant memories I have are of the two days climbing and watching the sun peacefully peak around the Earth

    and ooding the mountains in a golden haze, bringing about a feeling of elation after having successfully overcome the hazards of the previ-ous days.

    To some of you what I have de-scribed would seem dangerous and foolish; why travel to the worlds most remote places to deliberately seek out danger? Ive been climbing with CUMC for nearly i ve years. h e most emotive memories I have are of the people Ive met and the ex-periences Ive shared with them and the landscapes Ive seen.

    I will always expect to face dan-gers and challenges at some point whilst climbing. Experience and having the right equipment can help mitigate the dangers of climbing but it cant lessen the chance of be-ing in the wrong place at the wrong time. h e hikers tragically killed last week were fully aware of the dangers but equally attentive of the benei ts. h ey, like all climbers, want to keep the adventure alive by meeting na-ture at its own terms.

    Pictured:CUMC mem-bers at the summit of Mont Blanc, sunriseSource: Huw Mithan

    Huw Mithan

    Last week saw the pinnacle of the Extraordinary Synod (council) in the Catholic Church. Running

    for two weeks at the start of October, 253 bishops gathered urgently to dis-cuss numerous issues concerning pas-toral challenges of the family. Over-whelming interest was generated from the topics included such as potentially allowing divorced individuals to take Communion and i nding a place for homosexuals within the Church.

    However the Catholic revolution that perhaps some liberalists were hoping for came to an abrupt end last week. Pope Francis attempts to incorporate more out-reaching teach-ings and inclusive language aimed at Catholics were rebutted and excluded from the conclusion of the Synod. h e proposals made during the Extraor-dinary Synod caused many Conser-vatives to feel that Catholic teaching was at risk of becoming blurred. Pope Francis has already crossed the line of clear teachings in numerous isolated incidences including marrying a

    couple who had already been cohab-iting. Liberal bishops have been pro-posing for greater progression in the Church, something they now feel is long overdue.

    But now that the Synod is over, what does this mean for the Catholic Church? h e answer remains unclear for all 1.2 billion Catholics. h e real-ity is that it has served to further un-veil the increasing amount of internal p o l i t i c s , arguing and friction that occurs in the Vatican City.

    What the church is facing, and what was made clearer than ever at the end of the Synod is the con ict between following traditional church teachings and re ecting shifting cultural atti-

    tudes. Conservatives argue that fol-lowing original teachings promoted by the Vatican has sustained contin-ued growth for the past two thousand years. h at said, Catholicism moves at a snails pace when making decisions. It was pure optimism for liberalist on-lookers to expect a sudden sweeping change.

    Should the Catholic Church be dic-tated by age old doctrine, or should they look outside the coni nes of St Peters Basilica to society? Its an awkward situation. Whilst it is easy to think that the decline in Christian-ity prominence in Western society is the case across the world, it couldnt be further from the truth. A shift

    southwards has occurred where now Catholicism has increasing follow-ings in Latin America, Africa and Asia. What this has now caused is not an internal split of liberalism ver-sus conservatism, but that of North versus South. h e cracks that have been apparent within the Vatican for the past few years have been further highlighted, reaching a pivotal mo-ment. h e Church is coming of age in Africa as the decrease in its Western in uence is all too clear. h e Vatican is having to look itself in the mirror and regard what todays Catholics actually think, and whether altering doctrine will benei t the Church. It is a sad fact that despite the Church continuing to grow and increase its followers, it is a risk of splintering into factions. Instead of one unii ed Church there is a Church that has a huge amount of varying opinion and dissatisi ed bishops on all sides. Pope Francis is in an intimidating position where he is struggling to keep hold of the reigns of the Church leadership.

    Olivier van den Bent-Kelly

    Synod: progression for Catholics afoot?

    Reaching new heights

    Cardi s Mountaineering President discusses the addiction to climbing

    despite the risks it poses

    Pictured:h e Pope at the Final Session of

    the Extraordi-nary Synod on

    the family(Photographer:

    Catholic Church of England and



    Its worrying that many students have to work throughout term-time just to pay the bills

    Pope Francis is in an intimidating position where he is struggling to keep hold of the reigns of the Church leadership


    The fact that Welsh is spoken and used at Cardiff Univer-sity is somewhat of a novelty

    outside of the student bubble. Some have referred to Welsh as a dying lan-guage. A slight chuckle at that long train station we all have heard of is the extent to what most people will be exposed to Welsh. But actually start at Cardiff and you are sudden-ly immersed into a world of ATMs asking your language preference, translated signs and a university that actively promotes the use of Welsh. It is undeniable that there is a signif-icant presence to confirm that Car-diff is truly bilingual and that Welsh holds equal standing to English.

    Cardiff has a long history of promoting Welsh both as a city and a university. Its one of the things that makes it unique. I remember the first time I heard it after a night out in Chippy Alley two guys deep in discussion about what to order, I almost squealed in excitement when I heard it. On a serious note, the Union and University have a wide range of existing policies on bilingualism.

    Take last years Student Senate motion that gave the languages equal standing, or the fact that all letters you receive from Cardiff will be in both English and Welsh its hardly ridiculous to say that there are two languages in use here.

    Only two weeks ago I was in a meeting where a student exercised their right to speak in Welsh to the table. A translator was called in, and interpreted to us through

    headphones what they were saying. Yes, it was rather exciting and a novelty experiencing this for the first time (and obviously made all feel rather official), but it highlights a key point. A student does have the right to use Welsh, and for the University and Students Union to accommodate that with appropriate translation methods.

    Anything that the SU publishes is done in Welsh as well as English. Its social media scene is extremely active too there may be a few students that are dissatisfied with the level of people engaging in Welsh, but the University and the SU are doing as much as they can to promote it.

    We have a dedicated Welsh language officer, translators, Welsh social media, all the signs are in Welsh and have recently adopted the Welsh Language Charter. The question is how can you not see that we are a bilingual university? Cardiff students are completely surrounded by the Welsh language you literally cannot get away from it.

    Of course there is room for improvement within the University and the SU on promoting bilingualism but that is the case on education issues, tackling lad culture or any other policy that has been approved in Cardiff. There can always be ways to make it better enforced and improved. But Cardiff can be proud to be one of only a handful of universities that actually is officially bilingual and I have to say, thats a pretty damn cool status to have.


    IS CARDIFF UNI TRULY BILINGUAL?Is Welsh just a second language at Cardif, or is it truly equal?

    Among friends I am known as the most English person alive. No, Ive not been ac-

    cused of xenophobia, nor am I a member of UKIP, but my national-ity is definitely a large part of who I am. Moving to Cardiff from the Home Counties meant that I was surrounded by the Welsh language for the first time in my life, hav-ing only been to Wales twice, and briefly at that, in my entire life. Despite moving to a country where the Welsh language both originates and is, therefore, meant to flour-ish, I feel that we are not the bilin-gual University that we should be.

    Welsh is being forgotten and we should help to keep it alive. At a Student Senate meeting two weeks ago, a motion was passed that al-lowed Welsh Language Officer Stef-fan Bryn Jones to speak in Welsh at University meetings - for the first time ever (!) This was just one part of the NUS Wales national Welsh Language Charter. How this hadnt already happened in the entire his-tory of the University is beyond me. We need to do more than simply rename our nightclub Y Plas and use Welsh signage around campus to keep the Welsh language alive.

    he Annual Members Meetings at the University in 2013 saw support for the creation of a Bilingual Policy for the University. I have seen very little change in the provision of Welsh or the use of it around the University. I see Welsh-speaking students as being segregated from others. Living in halls

    in irst year showed me this. Welsh students were grouped together in lats and rarely socialised with English speaking lats. Even those who were bilingual rarely ventured into the Welsh lats. he two languages rarely crossed paths and the students were rarely integrated with one another.

    As an English-speaking student I felt as though I should at least attempt to learn some Welsh (my parents gave me the hint by buying me Welsh for Beginners for Christmas). However, the University did not promote the opportunity to do so.

    Welsh-speaking and English-speaking students would undoubtedly struggle to integrate with one another without the chance to learn Welsh. Within the free Languages for All programme, there was no opportunity to learn Welsh. his made no sense to me whatsoever. French, Italian and Japanese are just some of the languages available, but not Welsh.

    he fact were not actively encouraged to learn Welsh in the capital city of Wales seems idiotic to me. Pledging to keep the Welsh language alive, but not encouraging people to study it, seems contradictory. he second biggest University in Wales should be a stalwart for the Welsh language and doing all that it can to keep it alive. As students of a Welsh University, we are arguably the next generation of Welsh speakers, and our University simply isnt doing enough to make us bilingual. So lets do more to keep the Welsh language alive.

    FOR:Olivier van den Bent-


    AGAINST:Anne Porter

    We need to do more than simply rename our nightclub Y Plas

    Cardiff has a long history of promoting Welsh - both as a city and a university. Its one of the things that makes it unique

    Pictured:Welsh and English lags Source: Chris Brown, lickr

  • COMMENTAGM: A refl ection on the

    pro-choice motion

    What do you think? Have your

    say: [email protected]

    Its essential to remember that simply saying one side emerged victorious over the other is incorrect

    The AGM is over. After over three hours of discussing seven motions, Cardi

    Students Union has a new sabbatical o cer restructure for 2015/16, given public support to Palestine and called for further discussion on LGBT+ representation. But those seem somewhat overshadowed by motion two - making the Union pro-choice. After an extremely heated debate, which heard countless people speak, the AGM resolved to reject the motion and keep the SU neutral. But what does this decision now mean for the Union, its students and the groups both opposing and supporting the motion?

    It doesnt seem appropriate for Gair Rhydd to take a stance on the motion - enough discussion has taken place on it. What is appropriate is to re ect on the evening and see how it has a ected the future for the groups involved. And it was a topic that brought about a divide that resembled something of a Mexican Stando .

    Individuals who identi ed as members of the Womens Association and LGBT+ Group proposed the motion and argued strongly that it was the SUs responsibilty to

    provide services to vulnerable women. CathSoc, Islamic Society and the Atheist Society were the most prominent opposing parties - contesting their freedom of speech and representation was threatened. Whilst a compromise was on the agenda for some motions, this was de nitely not one of them.

    You see what the issue was here was that both sides had too con icting views for them both to reach a decision that satis ed all people. With the AGM over, the limelight now needs to switch on to what course of action the Womens Association will take next. Laura Carter, the Womens O cer, reviewed the evening stating her disappointment but emphasising the importance of planning and creating a pro-choice campaign with the Cardi Womens Association and Cardi University next semester. We need to actually clarify to students what being pro-choice means and why it is so important for women students. And she is right. e role of the Womens Association is to promote womens issues and this AGM should not mean the destabilising of the group.

    CathSoc and Students For Life meanwhile were two of the most

    a ected student groups opposing the motion. Finding a somewhat surprising ally in the Atheist Society, the President of it stressed what accepting the motion would have meant for Catholics - arguing that it would directly have con icted with Catholic metaphysics and deep rooted beliefs from within the Church.

    Whilst the AGMs decision means that societies such as Cathsoc will, as they put it, feel welcome in the SU, they cannot simply return to their own little bubble. What kept coming up in the AGM discussion was the need for debate - and that is what such groups opposing the motion need to engage in. ere isnt room for university groups to hold grudges against each other. ere must be a dialogue now and the SU must take steps to ensure that this happens. It is encouraging to see that they want to participate in this.

    CathSoc stated that whilst they are obviously delighted at the outcome, they Hope to work with the Womens Association in the future with certain parts of the motion, such as improving access to information for student parents, and this motion has given us a baseline to start communicating and working

    together. Such statements from both sides are encouraging that this is not the end for such an important womens issue.

    Its essential to remember that simply saying one side emerged victorious over the other is incorrect. Trivialising such a serious topic to simply who scored points over who denies the fundamental importance of having a debate on the issue of pro-choice/pro-life and what needs to be addressed to improve the situation. And that is exactly what the AGM is there for - to provide a platform where such discussion can occur. It is important that we now advocate for a forum that includes groups opposed to making the Union pro-choice, the Womens Association and the SU itself.

    Failing to engage in any sort of discussion of all groups would be failing Cardi students. is shouldnt mean the beginning of open hostility between pro-choice and pro-life, or those that approved and rejected the motion. e fact is, we need a healthy discussion to take place in greater detail - not con ned to heated emotions and four minutes arguments. Only then a successful dialogue take place.

    Failing to engage in any sort of discussion of all groups would be failing Cardiff students

    Pictured:Individuals who spoke on the pro-choice motion (Photographer: Laura Sargent)

    tweet us @gairrhyddop

    email us [email protected]

    or visit us online at

    Comment reviews the rejection of the pro-choice motion by Cardi students

    Olivier van den Bent-



    So Cardiff is in the top five in the UK for university research in the recent Research Excel-

    lence Framework (REF). No matter how you spin the results, I did feel rather smug at this news and happily gloated to my friends of this fact. But there have been criticisms. Some have had a rather nonchalant view to it, seeing it as an undeserved pat on the back.

    Admittedly, the whole presenta-tion of the REF results by Cardiff Uni was an enormous PR show that screamed self-commendation but we did do well. Even if you factor in the potential for manipulating the results. Cardiff does produce re-search of influence.

    There have been serious concerns that the demands of universities on academics are unacceptable as a di-rect result of REF submissions. Al-though it does sound rather callous to say tough luck to hard working lecturers, it should be as an accepted part of being in academia. If you are at such a level within your field to be doing research and are lecturing on it, of course there will be pressure on you. Take any profession and ob-serve someone who is at the top of it they will be in high demand to provide results, achieve targets and have success.

    REF asked academics to submit their four best papers since 2008. It is hardly the publish or perish that has been used to describe the work associated for submitting the neces-sary research. In addition, these are fields where most active lecturers will be publishing several papers a year.

    What REF actually highlights is work that could have been potential-

    ly overlooked by the academic com-munity. In the boundaries of REF, it studies the impact of all research that is undertaken within specific categories of a university. It enables academics to get the credit that they deserve.

    Here is a system that distributes research funding by rewarding bene-ficial research, and to me that seems rather logical. How else would you distribute finance for research? Un-like grants that are given on the basis of future promise and aspirations, money given due to REF is reflective. It is evidence-based giving that it is a legitimate way to give resources to researchers that are directly ac-countable for a specific study.

    Just take a look at the fact that Cardiff jumped 17 places from the last REF in 2008. Yes, this wasnt achieved without an increase in ex-pectations from lecturers output, but no matter how you attempt to spin this figure there was at the minimum some sort of improvement and increase in research considered to be world leading.

    It matters where universities are in league tables it would surprise me if not all students had looked at one in some shape or form whilst ap-plying through UCAS. The prestige of universities dont just merely rely on how modern their buildings are or what significance they hold his-torically.

    Producing results and proving that they are an institute that formu-lates new, ground breaking research is fundamental to both the univer-sity and the standard of education students receive. Its necessary to differentiate what sets out individual universities from each other.


    DO LEAGUE TABLES MATTER?Should we see take notice of Cardi s recent REF results?

    The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is an instrument of punishment

    and reward that distorts the things it seeks to measure, says University College Unions (UCU) policy o cer, Rob Copeland.

    A rather damning statement, but academics seem to agree. Responses to a UCU survey from 153 higher education institutions re ected concerns about the detrimental e ect of REF on working conditions, career progression and the increasing threat of punishment for not reaching expectations.

    According to its website, Cardi has secured a podium nish in 5th place and has broken into the Golden Triangle of Oxford, Cambridge and London as a world-leading university. Under scrutiny of the results, this is questionable. When power is included in the statistical analysis - the number of submissions to be scored for each university - Cardi places 17th in the rankings table.

    REF was designed to distribute research funding, a system to evaluate research outputs, but the inclusion of impact has been heavily criticised. REF measures whether research is world or nationally leading. Expectations are now placed on academics to produce research that will score highly in REF and be high impact. If they do not, sta may not reach the goalposts set for promotion and risk unemployment.

    As an early-career researcher myself, I already feel these pressures. My work is nuts and bolts, studying basic molecular mechanisms that underpin a rare genetic disease. is is unattractive to business-driven universities; I am unlikely to publish in glamorous journals and get high impact scores in

    the REF framework. Producing a drug to target this genetic disease will take twenty years, but without long-term research, how can we ever get there?

    Peter Higgs, Nobel Prize winner in Physics, said he doubted whether a similar breakthrough could be achieved in todays academic culture, because of the expectations on academics to collaborate and keep churning out papers.

    e death of Professor Stefan Grimm, a toxicologist at Imperial sadly re ects how serious the situation has become for some. In the months leading to September last year where Grimm was found dead at home, he felt the University were harsh and unfair, placing him on performance review amidst threats of dismissal. He had fallen short of the ultimatum to secure 200,000 of research grants and publish in high impact journals.

    An email from Grimm was released posthumously by an anonymous source, outlining his poor treatment and disgust with the current system of publish or perish. is is not a university anymore but a business with very few up in the hierarchy pro teering and the rest of us are milked for money.

    is top-down management of universities as a result of the REF framework is sti ing academic freedom and instead simply encourages short-term thinking. It damages the career of budding young scientists as well as highly regarded professors such as Stefan Grimm, with tragic consequences. In my opinion, REF results are not a true re ection of the quality of research and are a spin on statistics to boost university rankings in an assessment not t for purpose.

    FOR:Olivier van den Bent-


    AGAINST:Shanna Hamilton

    This top-down management of universities as a result of the REF framework is stifling academic freedom

    Here is a system that distributes research funding by rewarding beneficial research. To me, that seems rather logical

    Pictured:Lies, damned lies, and statistics (via Guardian Style)


    After a number of assaults in the Cathays area last week, sexual harassment has become

    a hot button issue for Cardif Univer-sity. Last week, Gair Rhydd reported two incidents of students being har-assed on their way home from Y Plas nightclub at the Students Union, and a further student being followed and cat-called for an extended period simply for being outdoors after dark. While Cardif University takes an oi-cial zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment, it is very diicult to po-lice; much of sexual harassment goes unreported because many do not un-derstand what the term harassment

    entails.For many students ourselves in-

    cluded we often do not realise that unwanted sexual attention in night-clubs (the groping and ass-grabbing without consent, the uncomfortable bodily proximity and the cat-calling )all constitute sexual harassment. he fact that many forms of sexual harass-ment have become naturalised within society only exacerbates the issue.

    While the Students Union cant necessarily police the entirety of their premises and Cathays, they can pro-vide information and workshops re-garding sexual harassment, inform-ing the student populace of what

    constitutes harassment, preventative measures and how to react should the situation arise. If the evidence dic-tates that young women are at greater risk walking home after nights out, the Union should perhaps consider providing safe transit to these at-risk students. For societies, committees should attempt to curb any behav-iour from their members that could be deemed as harassment, and if they arent already, they should be actively promoting a welcoming, safe environ-ment, arguably the keystone of any society.

    Despite all these possible measures, ultimately it is up to us as individu-

    als to realise the seriousness of sexual harassment. he lad culture that has materialised is not acceptable; we need to change peoples perceptions of women and respect, and the univer-sity can only do so much to encourage this. here is a myriad of measures we can take to control and eliminate the cases of sexual harassment in the Stu-dents Union, on the streets of Cardif or indeed any city in the UK. However in order to truly nip it in the bud, we need to inform children from a young age of the unacceptable nature of harassment of any type, something that begins long before we ever stroll through the doors of university.

    Zero Tolerance must be met with collective action

    The difficulty of tackling sexism in our SU

    Emily Jones

    Greg McChesney


    Cardif Students Union


    he test tube baby Source: Brendan Dolan-Gavitt, Flickr

    For an extended version of this article, see our website -

    I am a test tube baby. I was created in a petri dish in the middle of England in 1993 whilst my parents

    looked at me through a microscope. According to them at least, I have been able to produce some happiness to the extent that the exhausting pro-cess was worth it.

    But the problem is that I am Catholic - and that's where I be-come an anomaly. I am a member of a somewhat surreal group that are caught between two diferent worlds that have totally opposing views on whether IVF is an ethical solution to couples that have diiculty conceiv-ing. I know my parents struggled with the decision to use IVF; from a faith point of view, its an enormous faux pas. It's deemed by the Vatican as un-natural and results in the termination of fertilised eggs. From a Catholic standpoint, this is the termination of a human life; something that does not sit easily with me. But I still see the passing of the three people IVF as a fantastic step forward. However that

    means I fall out of line with Catholic doctrine. It is an awkward situation.

    My issue with the Catholic stance of this new development is that I ap-preciate the extent to which couples want children. People struggle with the inability to conceive, and IVF is genuinely seen as a saving grace. It is a brutal process - something not highlighted enough. Months of injec-tions given on strict daily schedules, a stream of appointments - it's a tough decision to commit to. Couples who sign up to this treatment are hardly the bearers of genetic manipulation and abusers of medical ethics. I can hardly turn around to my parents and criticise their decision. How could I - someone created in a lab, be op-posed to it? To say I am against such forms of conceiving would be such hypocrisy. But then isn't calling my-self a Catholic and advocating IVF a contradiction too?

    his new form of IVF would en-able approximately ten couples a year to have children that are born free of

    certain genetic diseases. A minority group yes, but it will make an un-founded diference to them.

    Am I pleased three person IVF have been passed through parlia-ment? Absolutely. I know I'm at risk of sounding like a GCSE answer to a question on ethics, but despite a slight Catholic guilt gnawing at me

    for my support - it is essential that this is an option. No, I haven't had a sit down chat with my parents so they can convey the emotions of the IVF journey, but isn't it justiied that they used available techniques to have children? Having children is a right. And aside from it being my fun fact I tell people, I'm hardly unnatural.

    I am a test tube Catholic

    Olivier van den Bent-


    Being religious doesnt contradict my support for IVF

  • Olivier van den Bent-


    COMMENTtweet us @gairrhyddcomment

    email us [email protected]

    or visit us online at

    Labours tuition fee pledge wont pay off

    Louis Urruty Last week, Ed Miliband an-nounced that his government would cut tuition fees from

    9000 to 6000. This is a move born out of political opportunism rather than a genuine desire to help stu-dents. It is reflective of a wider mis-understanding of the tuition debate

    that fails to take the real interests of students into account.

    Discussion around tuition fees has had the wrong focus. It needs to shift away from total fees, and towards living support, the maintenance loan, and the process of paying it back. The number one

    cause of students dropping out of university is financial hardship. It is not an inability to pay back debt after graduation, but an inability to pay rent and living costs during their studies. This is when students are most in need of financial assistance. After all, we cannot work full-time and, if we do work, we are entitled to a lesser minimum wage.

    Moreover, there is no evidence that the increase in fees has led to less students attending University. Rather, university applications are at a record high, and applications from people from disadvantaged backgrounds have soared. Evidently tuition costs are not the main cause for concern.These fees not being paid up front means that theyre not really the problem. We only pay them back once were in a position to do so. And the threshold at

    which loans are paid back is now at 21,000 instead of 15,000, meaning it really is the case that the money is paid by those who can afford it. That is the hallmark of a progressive tax system.

    The suggestion from Labour is that cutting tuition by a third will reach out to the many disengaged young people across the country. While it is true that the young are neglected in political discourse, this shallow attempt to win over younger voters represents this very neglect. It shows an unwillingness to engage with the real issues facing students, a lack of understanding around student affairs, and a patronising carrot-and-stick mentality when it comes to policy.

    Do they really believe that this is enough to persuade students to tick their box?


    h e false promise by LabourSource: @SNPStudents, Twitter

    Rape isnt a by-product of Indias culture war

    Lowering tuition fees to 6000 by 2016 just wont save Labour - heres why

    What has India learnt from the rape and murder of a student in 2012? Not much

    in all honesty. One of the men who was involved - Mukesh Singh, has shown no remorse and is somewhat puzzled by the outrage and shock it caused. To him, it certainly doesn't merit the death penalty that has been awarded to him. What these remarks have resulted in is article after article attempting to answer the question why.

    Why is the rape situation in India so bad? Why are individuals so non-chalant about rape? And then come the explanations - in an e ort to per-haps humanise the event and allow an understanding as to why this attitude exists. And the most prolifi c answer seems to be that India is undergoing

    a culture war - a battle between rural, traditional views and the modern, 'the sky's the limit for everyone' outlook. But the 2012 rape case isn't an issue of the culture war raging in India. What excuse is that? How is that a justifi ca-tion?

    Unfortunately, rape isnt just ex-clusive to Asia, so such statements make no sense. Take Manchester for example. It had over thirty reported student rapes between last Septem-ber and December. What culture war is occurring there? h e last time Manchester experienced any sort of culture revolution was in its music scene during the 80s and 90s. Rape is as much a by-product of urbanisa-tion in the Indian sub continent as the industrialisation of the North of Eng-land. But the issue is that many Brit-

    ish people will be unaware of what is practically an endemic in Manchester.

    So how can this be tackled? Be-cause this justifi cation and lack of remorse doesn't just have residence in India - it clearly is fully alive in the UK, and Manchester isn't the only city it occurs in. What attempting to explain why people are justifying the rapes does is isolate to another con-tinent. It distances us from the real problem and will merely make many people simply shake their heads at the news headlines in disapproval - be-fore forgetting about the problem.h at shouldn't be happening. h e

    outrageous statements made by the rapist should inject a passion into in-dividuals to tackle the issue here. To highlight that yes, there should be a proactive approach to stopping rape.

    h at's what happened in Manchester. Over two thousand people attended their 'Reclaim the Night' and the rea-soning for that is obvious. It is a direct response to the situation that hit their city.

    I don't have the answer - not for In-dia, Manchester or even Cardi . But there needs to be a refl ection on how rape is stopped, how it can be pre-vented. Instead of simply reporting and stating my opinion, I need to con-vey a better understanding of what's occurring. h is Comment section should serve as more than just a plat-form for me to criticise what Singh said. But actually emphasis what we already know, there is no culture war that is infl uencing such behaviour. It is simply power, control and a com-plete lack of boundaries.


    Indian demonstrators

    with placards, in response to the December 2012 New Delhi rape(Source: AFP / Tengku Bahar)

    Manchester had over thirty reported student rapes between last September and December