AL Kennedy for rector interview

AL Kennedy is one of two candidates standing in the 2011 Rectorial election and whilst she may not be as an instantly recognisable household name as her opponent Charles Kennedy, it certainly doesn’t stop her from making a big impact when she speaks.

AL Kennedy has had a distinguished time as both a writer and performing stand-up at the Edinburgh festival to critical acclaim but her entering the University of Glasgow Rectorial race may come as a surprise to come due to her low profile. Whilst she openly admits that she doesn’t expect to win, she is challenging Charles Kennedy to debate the issues that currently dominate both the local campus and the wider student community.

No matter what the outcome of the elections, her direct and frank approach when discussing the future of students may have won her more support than Charles Kennedy camp may expect and this race may be closer than either side expects.

You can here AL Kennedy’s interview on Subcity Update.

Aaron Porter kettling latest

At the weekend Subcity Update brought you the report that the National Union of Students President: Aaron Porter had been “kettled” by students allegedly affiliated to the Glasgow Anti-cuts Network and the Free Hetherington. Porter had been attending the Young Labour conference in an unofficial capacity when a group of protesters- one wearing a riot helmet – surrounded him and according to reports shouted abuse at him.

University of Glasgow security teams came to assist Porter who was seen to be “visibly distressed” before he broke free and ran away from both security and the protesters. It was two hours later when Porter finally made his return to the conference where delegates saw him “holding his head in his hands,” and “upset”.

Porter has become a “hate figure” during his tenure as NUS president for his perceived inaction over student fees and unwillingness to support students during direct action protests.

The now infamous “kettling” episode had drawn speculation that it would provoke the University into removing the Free Hetherington occupiers. However a University spokesman stated that as there had been no complaint made by Aaron Porter over the incident, no action would be taken against students involved. Strathclyde Police also confirmed that they were aware of the incident but until Aaron Porter himself made a complaint no charges or further action would be brought.

This comes despite many concerned students beginning letter and email campaigns to try and spur the University into action. Due to the controversy both Student Unions: the QMU and GUU put out a joint statement distancing themselves from the Free Hetherington and ACAN.

Iain Smith QMU president gave this statement to Subcity Update earlier in the week. “The Unions chose to release the statement as we felt there was no other choice but to distance ourselves from the kind of action deemed appropriate by members of the Hetherington movement.

As the statement says, the Board of Management of both Unions were elected to serve the interest of the members of the unions first and foremost, and being associated to action such as that which occurred on February 12th could prove detrimental to the ongoing consultation process regarding the cuts which myself and Colin Woods intend to be as much a part of as possible.

It was felt by the QM Board of Management specifically, that without any kind of hierarchical structure in place and no accountability for any of the actions of those involved with the Hetherington movement, that any working relationship with them at this time was not possible.”

GUU President Colin Woods also echoed the feelings of his QMU counterpart speaking to Subcity Update yesterday. “I think that the actions of those involved have dealt the anti-cuts movement as well as the Hetherington Occupation a major blow, and have alienated a large proportion of students on campus.

I completely support both movements in principle, but I would not condone the intimidatory and militant action of a minority of those involved; and I can only hope that that minority does not undermine the hard work put in by the organisers of today’s march.”

The SRC also distanced itself with President Tommy Gore expressing sadness at the anti-cuts movement at Glasgow University being tarred by the actions of a small minority.

The Free Hetherington later issued a statement in response to this article: “As has been made clear already, the action on Saturday February 12th was undertaken by a group of autonomous activists, not the Free Hetherington, nor ACAN; and as far as we are concerned the matter is closed…These concerns aside, it is always best to finish on a high note. As such we would like to extend our gratitude to all staff and students who turned out to make Wednesday’s protest such a success.”

Aaron Porter and the NUS have so far refused to comment.

Report by Kirsteen Fraser

Glasgow University Rectorial hustings 2011

On the 16th of February the Rectorial Hustings took place in the Debates Chamber of the Glasgow University Union. The two candidates for Rector, A L Kennedy and Charles Kennedy, debated for over an hour on the issues affecting campus. Discussion ranged from the proposed cutbacks & departmental closures to the Hetherington Research Club and how much input students have into the running of the university.

Over a hundred students attended the hustings and listened to the two candidates debate the issues. The hustings came just hours after one of the largest marches the University of Glasgow campus has seen in years, which was called in response to proposals before the University court.

Voting for the rectorial election will be 21st to the 22nd of February. You will be able to vote online at www.glasgowstudent.net.

More coverage of the debate to come.

This is the full recording of proceedings in the GUU Debates Chamber as recorded by Subcity Update.

NUS President aaron porter mobbed by demonstrators

The National Union of Students president: Aaron Porter was “kettled” by demonstrators at the UK Young Labour conference on Saturday 12th February 2011 outside the Boyd Orr building at the University of Glasgow. Porter has drawn ire from many student organisations across the UK for presiding over what they consider to be NUS inaction over government rhetoric over education cuts.

Porter, who was a delegate to the conference and not representing the NUS, was at first seen to be smiling and waving at the demonstrators before hearing their chants. He was then surrounded by a number of protestors, one of whom was wearing a riot helmet. University of Glasgow security was forced to come to Mr Porter’s aid. However, Aaron Porter – fearing for his safety – made a break from the scrum and was visibly distressed as he fled from the scene.

University security staff repeatedly searched the campus grounds looking for Mr Porter but were unable to locate him. Porter then resurfaced two hours later at the conference but looked “visibly shaken” to delegates.

Listen to the full report on Subcity Radio

Reporter: James Harrison
Producer: Kirsteen Fraser
Photo: Free Hetherington, Glasgow University

Glasgow uni staff and students speak out on cuts

Staff and students united this week to share their concerns about the proposed cuts at the University of Glasgow. Staff and students already beleaguered by the University’s recent restructuring came to the meeting after the University and College union had passed emergency resolutions in reaction to the proposed cuts which were leaked to the Herald earlier in the week. The exposé included details of which departments were up for the chop; including Anthropology, Nursing, Modern Languages and the University’s respected Department of Adult and Continued Education; credited with helping thousands of mature students into further education.

The suggested cuts to DACE and other departments come just days after an official visit from the UK Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, (himself a frequent advocate for part time and mature students) Where he met with Principal Anton Muscatelli and the vice principals of many of the departments facing the axe.

Principal Anton Muscatelli has claimed that the University has to make savings of over £20 million to stay out of the red over the next two years and Glasgow has begun a voluntary severance scheme and efficiency savings across campus in a bid to save cash. Subcity Update spoke to students and staff to get their opinions on the University’s proposals.

Reporter and producer – Kirsteen Fraser

You can listen to the podcast here on Subcity Radio

Students and staff rally over cuts

On the 11th of February over 300 students attended the packed out Queen Margaret Union’s main venue – Qudos – to hear more about proposed cuts to services and departments across the University of Glasgow. The meeting brought together the four largest student bodies on the University campus: the Glasgow University Union, the Queen Margaret’s Union, Glasgow University Sports Association and the Students’ Representative Council. The Glasgow University branch of the Anti Cuts Network were also in attendance.

The meeting came the day after University and College union members condemned the cuts and passed a series of emergency resolutions against. In the debate students and staff came together with students being urged to support any possible strike action by staff as the threat of cuts loom over the university. This is the full uncut recording of the meeting that took place.

Highlights include:

Mandy – former Department of Adult and Continuing Education student

“If they are cutting the adults access course there is going to be lots of people like me who left school and were told they weren’t clever enough for a university education… If they cut DACE people like me aren’t going to be able to get a university education and its going to become elitist. Its going to be be just for people paid for by mummy and daddy and working class people like me are going to be cut out.”

Stewart – Nursing Student

“There have been a lot of smears about the Nursing department at Glasgow, its been claimed that the departments not pulling its weight, that its not good enough and its not part of this University. Glasgow’s nursing department has been rated one of the top five in the UK in the last five years. The department has a 99% – 100% employability every year. It is pulling its weight… None of us are going to let it get shut down and shipped out somewhere else.”

Jan- staff member of the University of Glasgow

“Assurances have been given from management that are repeatedly broken, and I am sorry but I don’t believe a word of them. On the day of the Herald leaking the cuts there was a conference by the UK government telling Universities to up their game in teaching Modern Languages… Why is it that Glasgow University is defying this trend?”

The recording from the meeting can be heard on Subcity Radio<a

Derelict Glasgow Student Union the Hetherington Research Club Occupied

The Hetherington Research Club was occupied early in the afternoon on the 1st of February by the Glasgow University Anti Cuts Action Network. This latest occupation is in response to the cuts taking place in the education sector in general but also specifically because of the decision of the University of Glasgow to close the Research Club after allegations of financial impropriety and poor management.

Kirsteen Fraser, for the Subcity Current Affairs team, spoke to Eileen Boyle, a former employee of the Hetherington and staff representative, about her disappointment over the closure of the club and her reasons for supporting the occupation.

Also interviewed was Oliver Milne, head of Glasgow University Anti Cuts Action Network, who explained that the aim of the occupation was to reclaim the building as a place for students to gather and enhance their student experience whilst at University. Milne also condemned the closure of the club and the decision of the University not to offer assistance when their financial issues came to light. He compared the bailout given to the Glasgow University Union during its financial crisis to the inaction in the case of the Hetherington.

Whilst cuts at the University of Glasgow seem inevitable there was some concern expressed at the occupation over the upcoming austerity report currently due on the 11th of February. The report could signal up to 25% cuts to student services across the board, which would include the two student unions and the Students’ Representative Council, as well as other services.

Though it is currently unclear as to what action the University will take in imposing cuts, the fear amongst students is that scenes at the Hetherington will become more frequent as cuts continue to bite at the University of Glasgow.

You can listen to the podcast on Subcity Radio.

Reporting for Subcity Update: Kirsteen Fraser

Starting out

What can I say. I have now taken the plunge and set up my own official website to tout my wares as it were. Here I will post exclusive interviews as well as segments and content from my show on Debate is Free on Subcity Radio. I have had some requests in the past asking if I do freelance work and now that I come armed with my own equipment I’ve decided the time is ripe to try and make it in this tough market.

Anyone who listens to the show will know that my big love is politics but strangely enough I also have a few others. I care a lot about the state of the creative industry in the UK especially videogames, music and film. So you can probably guess what you are going to see a lot of on this site.

2010 was an interesting year to cover I’m sure 2011 will be too.

World AIDs Day 01/12/10

World AIDs Day started back in 1988 as a memorial to the victims of the disease. Despite us knowing a lot more about HIV/AID’s attitudes and fears about the disease have remained largely unchanged.

There are currently:

33.4 million people living with HIV worldwide
31.3 million adults
15.7 million women
2.1 million children under 15

We interviewed Alison Lord of the Terrence Higgin’s Trust in Glasgow who said that people should wear a condom and get tested regularly. Don’t put yourself at risk.

Listen to the podcast on Subcity Radio

Strathclyde student’s future in doubt after London demo

Bryan Simpon

The aftershocks of the National Union of Students demonstrations in London this week continue to reverberate in Glasgow. With the borderline riot at Conservative Party Headquarters at Millbank, one student at Strathclyde University: Bryan Simpson, a 22 year old studying law has been featured in a number of media outlets knocking off a policeman’s hat during the protest. Simpson – who is a stalwart of Strathclyde University’s left – leaning activists and former Strathclyde Student Association Presidential candidate has been the subject of a flurry of media and student interest as to his alleged involvement in the chaos caused at Millbank.

A spokesperson for Strathclyde University said: “The University of Strathclyde unreservedly condemns the violence which took place at yesterday’s fees protest in London.” “The right to peaceful protest is fundamental to the democratic process. The minority who took part in violence did not act with the support of students, and will face the consequences through the courts and, where appropriate, through university disciplinary process.”

It has been this statement which has caused concerns about the future of Bryan Simpson who has been out of contact since the student demonstrations earlier this week.

You can listen to the full report on Subcity Radio

Reporter: Kirsteen Fraser

Technical Support/Producer: Gavin Reynolds