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www.london-student.net ·1stMarch 2010

LondonStudent

News ·5

First victory forUCL campaigners

Pressure from200 studentswins brief reprieve on decision to restructure department

DANNYWHITELOCK ▪ News Editor

UCL students fighting to prevent a restructuringof the college’s lan- guage departments have won a concession which they hope will pave theway for further victories.

Facingmounting pressure from

campaigners at ameeting of theAc- ademic Board on the 24th, UCL Provost Malcolm Grant extended the consultation period by two weeks, lengthening the deadline to the 26thMarch. UCLUEnvironment andEthics

officer Craig Griffiths, who sits on the Academic Board, called the re- sult, “a small but impressive vic- tory.” TheModernLanguagespropos-

als were recently resituated in the wider cuts controversy when it was announced that the Faculty of Life Sciences is to face a further £900,000 cut in salaries, bringing total salary cutswithinthe faculty to justunder £2.5million. The Academic Board heard of the extent of staff and student op-

position, as well as an online peti- tionfor a stretchedconsultationpe- riod, holding over 1100 signatures. After it became clear that a vote wouldfall infavour of anextension, theProvost determined itwould be “inappropriate to take a vote”, and instead took the “executive action” of the twoweek extension. Thedecisionto extendthedead-

line came the day after an open meeting with the Dean of the Arts and Humanities Faculty, Henry Woudhuysen. There, the Dean re- fusedto extendthe consultationpe- riod, citing the absence of a “viable counter-proposal” as the reason be- hind his decision. Adam Gillett, organiser of ‘De-

fend Modern Languages at UCL’, believes even with the extended deadline, there remains a profound discrepancy in the consideration made for an alternative proposal: "While theModernLanguages Re- view Committee has had a luxuri- ous 9months towrite its disastrous proposals, it expects hard-working students and staff to produce an al-

ternative in just a matter of weeks. More accurately, it expectsusnot to - thus far it seems that all the Com- mittee ispreparedto compromise is the quality and specialism of our

All the commit- tee is prepared to compromise is the quality

and specialism of our courses

and staff

- AdamGillett

DefendModern Languages

courses and staff.” On the same day as the open

meeting, students votedtosupport a motion called ‘Stop the Cuts, De- fendEducation, SaveModernLan- guages and Life Sciences,’ at a

UCLU AGM. The motion was passed 318 to 44, with 19 votes in abstention,puttingUCLUinoppo- sition to the cuts programme. As well as the lack of a counter

proposal, the collegehadcitedmore humane reasons for its earlier re- fusal of extended consultation.At a student representative consultation, a member of staff from UCL’s Human Resources Division had considered that any extension would be “unreasonable” and “stressful” for staff. Griffiths welcomed the result,

saying: “Two week's extra is a wel- come respite for our beleaguered admin staff and stressed students. However, itwillmeannothing if the Deancontinues torefuse tospellout what a "viable counter-proposal" en- tails. He needs to clarify what ex- actlyhewouldaccept -otherwise it’s a pointless exercise; a rubber- stamping rather than a consulta- tion.” He also expressed concern over

the licence anagreement to the cur- rent proposals could mean. The

Anti-extremist pressure group linked to conservative think-tank

continued fromfront page

tank associated with Cambridge Univer- sity, calls itself “non-partisan”, but has been labelled “neo-conservative” in the Guardian.TheYoungBriton’sFoundation (YBF)alsodescribes itselfasa“non-parti- san” organisationfor “education, research and training”, while stating that it “com- bats left-wingbias intheeducationsystem andthemainstreammedia”.Conservative Party sources toldLondonStudent that the YBF was considered well to the right of mainstream conservative thought. Co- founder Donal Blaney, in January ridiculedtheNationalAssociationofMus- limPolice for stating that Islamwas “not the driver behind terrorist attacks”. Although there is no official link be-

tween Student Rights and the Young Britons Foundation,DirectorKassamis pictured (front page) on the ‘Tory Bear’ website (‘homeof rightwingpoliticalgos- sip’)pretendingtotakeabackhander from Blaney formaintenance ofKassam’s blog ‘KeepRightOnline’.Kassamstooddown from Conservatve Future less than two months before taking up the role of Stu- dentRightsDirector and attendedweek- end training events runby theYBF. StudentRights’website says that “the

organisation consists of various interns, studentmembersandsourcesaswellasan advisory board.” This advisory board in- cludes aLabourMP, the editorsofvarious political magazines and Dr Alan Med- ndoza, Executive Director of the Henry

JacksonSociety. James Jacobs, aSOASstudentwho in-

ternedatStudentRights’offices,admitted thatgroup’s formerofficeshadbeenshared with theHenry Jackson Society, but said he believed there was no direct link be- tweenthe groups.

‘The BBC first described themas

‘student anti-racism campaigners’

However, London Student has learnt

that when LSE Students’Union - which charges a fee for external groups to have a place atFreshersFair – received payment for a stall booked under Student Rights’ name last year, it came from the Henry JacksonSociety’s bank account. London Student found no evidence of

any Student Rights societies active on UniversityofLondoncampuses,callingin toquestionthelegitimacyof theirclaimto have “studentmembers”. StudentRightswere initiallydenieda

stall at SOAS Freshers Fair, because sab- batical officers couldnot seewhat student servicewasbeing offered.After anoffer of paymentwas refused,becauseSOAShasa no-pay policy, student James Jacobs was encouragedtocollectenoughsignatures to register as a society. He told London

Student that the group therefore exists “nominally” buthas “nevermet”. SOASstudentMasNaina (NUSBlack

Students officer and NUS LGBT Com- mitteemember) said:“It’s reallyworrying that thisgrouparegoingroundcallingfor SUs to cancel speaker events. Students have every right to invite who they wish. There are laws against inciting violence, and against hate-speech. Universities themselves have strict policies. If a law is brokenit shouldbeamatter for thepolice. “Where is their legitimacy to be pres-

suringSUswithoutanysignificant student membership to speak of, in the name of ‘protecting’ ‘impressionable’ students? They support the right of the BNP to speak but are attempting to remove oth- ers’ right to freedomof speech.” He added: “We are living in increas-

ingly racist times and I urge all students unions toensurethatanyallegationscom- ing fromgroups like StudentRightswar- rant very close investigation. It’s not surprisingthatwiththecurrentwaveof Is- lamophobia people are trying to attack Imams andotherMuslimspeakerswhose views are at times are severelymisrepre- sented.” In mid-December 2009, Student

Rights’Director told BBC news, that an event at SOAS had involved “overpower- ing racist jeering”. Controversy was sparked when a Jewish man, Jonathan Hoffman,attendingapro-Palestineevent, claimedhehadbeenavictimofanti-Semi-

tism. A video of the event showedmem- bersof the audiencehecklinghimandthe meeting’schair refusetoansweraquestion about one of the panelmember’s convic- tionforhate-speech. Althoughthevideoisunclear,Student

Rights initially backed up Hoffman’s claim, telling theBBCitwas “a stark and

motivatedbyracism.HesaidthatStudent Rightswas fundedby“manyprivate indi- viduals”. Combined pressure from Student

Rights andtheCentre forSocialCohesion -athink-tankwhichhasbeencriticisedby the National Assembly Against Racism and the National Union of Students – madeQueenMary SUcancel a debate in December 2009 which was to feature Jamal Harwood and Reza Pankhurst, members ofHizb ut-Tahrir (HT).HT is an Islamic groupwhich is legal inBritain buthas beenaccused of links to terrorism – anallegationit denies. Student Rights Director Kassam re-

chilling revelation of what can happen whenextremismis allowedto take root in universities”. The BBC at first described Student Rights as “student anti-racism campaigners”.However, within less than 24 hours a heavily revised version of the story appearedontheBBCNewswebsite, notingthat several Jewishspeakersandau- diencemembers denied that theheckling was racist, claiming insteadthat itwasbe- causeHoffman was vice-chairman of the pro-Israeli Zionist Federation. It also changedthedescriptionofStudentRights to “campaigners”. Kassamlater admitted to London Stu-

dent that he had not been at themeeting andStudentRightspublishedan“update” on its website acknowledging the doubts raised over whether the heckling was

mained involved in Conservative Future activities after having officially stepped down, for instancesettinguptheFacebook event for theCFChristmasParty. More evidence of close working rela-

tionships within Tory circles comes from the fact that the group’s blog was created byweb-designerMikeRouse,whoseport- folio ofwork consists of almost entirely of right-of-centre political sites, including ConservativeMPsGregHands and John Redwood and the ‘ToryBear’website. Organisations in theUSAwhich have

engaged in comparable activities to Stu- dent Rights include ‘Campus Watch’, whichhas beenaccused of being a pro-Is- rael lobby organisationinvolvedinblack- listingscholarscriticalof Israel,and‘Jihad Watch’whichhasbeencriticisedbymany as Islamophobic.

plans to reformMod- ernLanguagedepartments are divided into two parts, the first dealing with ad- ministrative changes, and the second with curricula changes.Withthe secondphase not yet released, he fears, “In

effect,

staff & stu-

d e n t s would be signing a blank cheque.” A protest against the

Modern Languages cuts will takeplace onWednes- day, 3rd March in the UCLQuad. Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28
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