Masseuse: "Hand relief is £35. Or £45 if you want me to strip first"

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Even to the casual passer-by, they’re obviously not run-of-the-mill health clubs. London is dotted with ‘saunas’ of this kind: places with darkened windows and security door entry systems.

Four are listed in the Student Pages, but well over thirty more advertise in the London weekly magazine What’s On (two such adverts appear below).

Several say in their ads that they appear in a publication called ‘McCoy’s Massage Parlour Guide’. This guide’s introduction says that women working in the saunas “may provide sexual services - but we couldn’t possibly comment”. The guide then gives the game away by listing the official prices (for sauna and massage sessions) as ‘basic’ prices.

We visited the College Sauna in Camden Town, after a call by a female reporter asking to book a session was refused because “we only do gentlemen”.

Our reporter was told at the reception that a half-hour sauna and massage session was £12, which was paid. He was then escorted by a woman in her late twenties, wearing high heels and a nurse’s uniform-style white coat, to a small room containing a massage table covered in white tissue paper. By its side was a bedside cupboard with bottles of baby oil and kitchen roll on top.

The woman introduced herself and asked if our reporter had visited before. When he said no, the woman said that in addition to the massage, she offered ‘extras’. “Hand relief is £35,” she said, “or £45 if you want me to take my clothes off.” She also offered ‘full sex’ and oral sex for up to £70.

At this point our reporter, to coin a phrase, made his excuses and left.

At the Omega Sauna the set-up was basically similar, except that men were shown first to the shower and sauna facilities before sitting in a lounge wearing towels . There they chose which woman they would go with into the rooms. Prices offered to our London Student reporter were broadly the same, too.

Officially, the saunas advertised in Student Pages and What’s On magazine are just that - saunas. Telephone calls, and even face-to-face conversations with receptionists, did not yield any confirmation that the women working as ‘masseuses’ are engaging in prostitution. One of our news team tried to ask the receptionist of the College Sauna what their staff charged for sex, and was simply asked to leave.

This is a necessary game. The management of the saunas need to appear ignorant of what happens on their premises, since knowingly running an establishment where prostitution takes place is a criminal offence.

Prostitution itself is not illegal in the UK, though this is mostly irrelevant since asking for or offering sex for money is an offence. Authorities tend to turn a blind eye to saunas of the kind investigated here, since given the existence of prostitution, most would prefer that it took place in those relatively safe and controlled surroundings than on the streets. But with the exception of Edinburgh City Council, no local authority in the UK admits to tacitly condoning the practice in this way.

London Student’s enquiries were primarily aimed at the Student Pages, which foolishly listed in a student directory a brothel with the name ‘College Sauna’ without checking it first. This action is potentially dangerous to students and has continued for several years. The flippant attitude of the company’s publishing director is something LS will report to student unions and advertisers during the coming week. We’ll keep readers posted.

London Student Reporters

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Red Ken joins in the demo fun for All Saints

KEN LIVINGSTONE, MP for Brent, has announced that he will be supporting the NUS’s regional day of action against tuition fees on November 1. He believes that students now have our “first real opportunity to express concern about the proposed changes.” According to Livingstone “students will not see an improvement in their living standards and they will be saddled with massive debt.” He points to the figures which “showed a big slump in the numbers applying for places at University with a 12 per cent fall from last year.”

Jo Paice, ULU Vice President, was “glad to have all the support we can” and feels that “every MP who supports this is great.” She thinks there is a good chance of getting a rebellion in the Commons and hopes that eventually “the Lords will stop it.” She made an appeal for people to come out for the demonstration with “parents, children and anybody who will be affected by tuition fees” to meet up at the University of London Union on November 1 to show that there is strong opposition to the idea.

Livingstone also claims that “Labour has no mandate to impose fees” and he has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament against the idea. He currently has the support of 15 out of 651 Members of Parliament.

However an anonymous spokesman at the Labour Party’s Press Office casually dismissed his announcement, saying “Ken is Ken.”

Ade Oshineye

News Index

'High Risk' students warned to be on look-out for meningitis signs

THE NUS has issued new alerts to student unions following new outbreaks of meningitis across campuses. This follows a report published on Tuesday which found that students are the single group most at risk from the disease.

Cases of the disease, which causes an inflammation of the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord, have been reported in Salford, Leicester, Nottingham and Southampton universities, and at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff. At Salford University more than 500 students were immunised after two residents of the same hall were taken to hospital with symptoms of the disease. The incidents have sparked fresh concerns about the vulnerability of students to the disease, which affected over 500 young adults last year. Last autumn two women students at Cardiff University died following an outbreak of meningococcol meningitis which affected seven students.

The incidence of the disease in young adults as a whole has more than doubled over the past two years, whilst first-year students living in halls of residence suffer the highest incidence of the disease out of any social group.

A major awareness campaign was launched last week by the NUS in an attempt to alert students to the symptoms of the disease, which include severe headaches, aching limbs, sensitivity to light, and, in the case of the related blood-disease septicaemia, a rash which develops into purple bruises. Advisory leaflets have been distributed to all universities, and a 24-hour helpline is available on 01454 413344.

Matthew Creitney

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SOAS lecturer in bid to arrest dictator Pol Pot

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SOAS lecturer Dr. Stephen Heder stunned his class last week by telling them that he had missed his previous tutorial on October 13 because he was in Cambodia trying to have Pol Pot arrested and brought to international justice. Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge government, portrayed in the film “The Killing Fields”, is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of millions of ordinary Cambodians in a four year reign of terror which ended in 1979.

Stephen Heder is part of an international group of Cambodian scholars who want to bring the infamous mass murderer to justice. His first attempt earlier this year failed when a coup was launched and his contact in the Cambodian army, General Nhek Bunchhay was forced to flee to Thailand.

During the coup Heder saved the life of one of Bunchhay’s aides by phoning him on his mobile and arranging an escape on a UN flight. There Heder thought the story had ended but he had earned a valuable favour from the General.

On Sunday October 12 Heder received a call from Nhek Bunchhay, “So you still want to see Pol Pot?...I can arrange for you to see him”.

Heder couldn’t finance his attempt to bring Pol Pot to trial on his own, so he enlisted the help of New York Times journalist Elizabeth Becker and filmmaker Dirck Halstead. In 1978 Becker had been one of the first western journalists to interview the elusive revolutionary leader. On that trip another SOAS lecturer Malcolm Cauldwell was killed when his guesthouse was shelled while he waited to see Pol Pot. Pol Pot is not an easy man to gain access to but his grip on the Khmer Rouge slipped when on the 10th of June this year when he ordered the death of his Security Chief Son Sen and fourteen of his family. This act forced his comrades to place the tyrant under house arrest and led to negotiations about handing him over. A race was now on to be the first to interview Pol Pot in nearly ten years. From Bangkok the trio were directed to Surin, Thailand, near the Thai-Cambodian border. In their hotel Becker met Nate Thayer of the Far Eastern Economic Review -her main rival for the interview. Pol Pot was barely thirty kilometres away in the Khmer Rouge controlled town of Anlong Veng in Cambodia. Heder, Becker and Halstead made repeated attempts to gain access to the ailing dictator still unsure if Thayer had beat them to it. But despite Becker’s efforts and the help of Hun Phoeung, the man Heder had saved during the coup, Thayer scooped the prize. At one point a Thai contact told them, “Pol Pot is an old man and it is very exhausting for him to be interviewed, it might kill him. Could you come back in two weeks?”

Eventually Heder decided to leave. “I was teaching on Monday... took a late plane from Bangkok on Saturday, home Sunday morning. I came to my office, reviewed my lecture notes and figured out what I had to say to my head of department”. When asked if he would try again the Politics Lecturer replied, “ The Thai Colonel said come back in two weeks, I have responsibilities here, there are only so many lectures you can miss on the basis you need to talk to Pol Pot”.

Peter Beveridge

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McDonald's defends accusations of low pay

MCDONALD’S have been criticised by the GMB trade union for freezing the pay of their 36,665 strong national workforce.

The pay freeze at McDonalds came to light when students working for McDonalds complained to the GMB Young Members officer in London, Bert Schouwenburg. McDonalds spokesperson Catherine Langley described the GMB claims as ‘totally inaccurate’. “McDonalds do not regularly raise the basic rates of pay, Instead we regularly review pay according to performance on an individual basis and hourly rates are under constant review”. Questioned on McDonald’s policy of non-recognition of unions, Ms Langley said “McDonald’s staff are free to join unions and will not be discriminated against as a result. However we prefer to negotiate with staff through our own channels. A staff survey recently showed that most of our staff prefer one to one negotiations over union representation”.

You can join GMB by calling 0181 947 3131.

Nick Bardsley

News Index

Blunkett adds insult to injury by casting slurs on the priorities of son's lectures

David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary, has complained to a gathering of university vice-chancellors that his 20-year-old son is receiving a shoddy education at the hands of his tutors.

Blunkett said “The people teaching him are not interested in teaching. They are more interested in their own research. I don’t think that’s acceptable”. There was no elaboration on this theme to the effect that Blunkett is looking to break the power of the Research Assessment Exercise ratings that force university staff to concentrate on research to the detriment of teaching in order to attract funding and therefore survive in Britain’s ‘market’ education system.

The Education Secretary attended Sheffield University as an undergraduate but regaled his audience of senior academic officers with anecdotes from Oxford and Cambridge. He also revealed that his son, Alastair, attends ‘a good university’ thereby implying that if the standards are low at ‘good’ universities they must be terrible at ‘not so good’ universities.

Blunkett remarked that he was constantly meeting ‘young women with eight GCSEs’ in his Sheffield constituency who plan to become hairdressers. He suggested that Sheffield’s geographical position drives such girls into ‘hairdressing’ rather than the more academic routes that people from the ‘South-east’ automatically gain access to.

His speech was reportedly well received by the assembled vice-chancellors, many ‘howling with laughter’ at his Oxbridge stories. Some, however, suggested that Blunkett’s concept of university teaching left much to be desired. Roderick Floud, Provost of London Guildhall University, said: ‘Delivering a lecture is very different from fronting a classroom.’

Students will be unimpressed at Blunkett’s attempts to ingratiate himself with higher education’s elite in the light of his present education plans.

Nick Bardsley

News Index

Education free-for-all as funding becomes a lottery

The government’s announced higher education policies will affect the way employees hire recent college graduates along with the amount of students in universities compared to that of further education colleges.

On the job front, Britain’s largest employees are currently working on bonuses and interest free loans to entice the best and brightest students to make up for the commencement of tuition fees and the abolition of student maintenance grants.

The debt of students graduating after three year degree courses shows that the debt load will double to more than £10,000 by 2002. The statistics are already indicating that applications from potential students who come from less affluent backgrounds will show a marked decline in coming years.

David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary, has been pointing to the enticement packages being created by big business as something that will go a long way in making up for the new policies regarding higher education.

However, Douglas Trainer, president of the National Union of Students, said the packages being created will only help those people with specific skills that business are in desperate need of. He went on to say, “Clearly big business is worried about the government’s proposals, but the offer of golden hellos to comparatively few graduates from elite institutions will provide no reassurance to the majority of students and universities”.

Almost half of the 100 firms, with average revenues of £4 billion, in a survey sponsored by The Guardian are creating new recruitment packages to help compensate students for their loans. When asked how they would react to the rise of student loans, 47 percent of the companies said they were working on ways to help students pay off the debts.

On a related matter in terms of the consequences of the government’s higher education policies, universities will probably lose out to polytechnic colleges in the fight for the 500,000 extra students and added government funding.

Ministers are emphasising polytechnics as the key to good employment while at the same time discouraging new high school graduates from going to the traditional universities.

The main choice is whether “sub-degree” qualifications like Higher National Diplomas will take place in universities or colleges.

Last week the Higher Education Funding Council announced 6000 extra places and said 1000 must be in the sub-degree courses. Universities would be given the upper hand in bidding for these places only if they offered spots to those minority groups under represented in higher education.

Most of the new spots in higher education will go to part-time students in the polytechnic colleges. The conflict between the interests of universities and further education colleges highlights the confusion and mis-information being conveyed to anxious sixth formers and their families, as tuition fees and cuts in higher education funding begin to make their presence known at degree level.

A White Paper will be published in December.

Stuart Rose and Soraya Moeng

News Index

SSEES funding cuts will threaten staff and students

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The School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies (SEESS) has suffered funding cuts to the tune of a quarter of a million pounds which may force seven members of staff into early retirement.

The funding cut came into affect this academic year after a judgement made by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The School’s income is tied to assessment of research levels. Consequently a drop in research achievement last year from grade 5 to grade 4 prompted the HEFCE to cut funding for SSEES by approximately £230,000.

Although restructuring throughout SSEES is possible the East European Languages and Culture Department will bear the brunt of the cuts. Michael Branch, SSEES Director insisted that teaching standards would not suffer. The cut would result in ‘a restructuring of the language department which means a move from one level of staff to another’.

Negotiations between University of London directors and SSEES are currently under way over the possibility of seven members of languages and linguistic staff taking voluntary early retirement. If academic staff do leave they will be replaced with language assistants.

There is a need at the School for improvements in language teaching and Michael Branch has taken this opportunity to create a new language centre with a £496,577 grant from HEFCE.

Mr Branch said these changes could be made without damaging the school: ‘Restructuring will not affect standards of language teaching. It will affect the way languages are taught’.

But Mr Branch did acknowledge that SSEES is facing a dilemma: ‘When you are faced with cuts like this you have to ask “ what do we do to restructure the school without mortally damaging it” ‘.

Bee Kilroy, Vice President for SSEES Student Union, accepts the need for improvements but maintains standards will fall if staff go “What we are worried about is that literature is going to suffer, politics is going to suffer as these members of staff are not just language specialists but specialists in Hungarian literature, Russian literature and Serbo-Croat literature and can bring an amazing amount of knowledge and experience of a country to a language class”.

Alex Tampakopoulos, President for SSEES Student Union criticised HEFCE, for effectively penalising institutes for falling research standards without providing them with the funds to do better.

She stressed that SSEES is already over stretched and underfunded and further cuts can only impair the School’s ability to meet its commitments “Over recent years there have been major cuts. Already academic staff are doing several jobs and we can’t afford to loose them. We have only one Bulgarian specialist and if he goes Bulgaria won’t be covered and that’s just not good enough”.

Miss Tampakopoulos accused the University of London of a lack of foresight in failing to provide SSEES with funds and support for their struggle. SSEES also opens its courses to other colleges which means if standards drop the repercussions will be felt throughout UL.

John House

News Index

Oxford and Cambridge face £35 million in funding cuts

OXFORD and Cambridge could be facing extinction if the extra £35m funding that supports their college systems is cut, according to Dr. Peter North, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University. The funding, equivalent to £2000 per student, maintains the one-to-one tutorials characteristic of the universities as well as preserving the strength of the unique college identities. As a result, students may find themselves being asked to go some way to making up the deficit through the introduction of “top-up” fees, such as those recently ruled out by the LSE.

The special funding status first came into question in the recent Dearing Report on higher education, in which it was recommended that variations in the level of funding should only occur where there was an approved difference in provision. Based on the aim that similar activities should receive similar resources, the Department for Education has written to the funding councils asking their advice on future of the apparent anomaly of Oxbridge funding, with a reply expected next month.

Anne Campbell, Labour MP for Cambridge, has suggested that the colleges should have their fees varied, according to their intake of state school pupils. Seemingly in response, a meeting of Cambridge admissions tutors announced last Monday that the colleges should aim for a ratio of 65% of undergraduates from the state sector to 35% from the independent schools. Dr. Susan Stobbs, chairman of the Cambridge Admissions Forum pointed out that this does not mean the introduction of quotas. “We are not talking about quotas or discrimination against pupils from the private sector. What we are looking at is a gradual evolution similar to that which allowed the proportion of women to rise,” Maria Thomas, a student from the Admissions Committee at Brasenose, Oxford said that this is a move similar to one three years ago called "Access Schools", in which students volunteered to speak at state schools. It was a matter of making the university appear more accessible, and there was never any question of quotas as this would undermine the overriding selection principle of taking the ablest of pupils, irrespective of background. According to Simon MacDougal, Finance Officer at Oxford University Students Union, the fees situation appears to be having the opposite effect. This year there has been a 7% drop in applicants to Oxbridge, amounting to over 7000 students whom, he believes, will not be from private schools but from state pupils put off by the very fees situation that is supposed to increase their numbers.

Should the special funding be withdrawn, the universities believe that their status would be compromised. Ruth Deech, principal of St Anne’s Oxford, went as far to say that “If college fees are taken away it would undermine the national interest in preserving and extending our world-class research and teaching institutions. It takes hundreds of years to build a reputation and it is quite easily destroyed”.

Graham Thomas

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Royal Bank of Scotland best to insure students

THE ROYAL Bank of Scotland is offering the lowest insurance rates to students compared to other nationwide banks.

Charging £21.02p for £3000 worth of cover,the Royal Bank of Scotland has emerged top in a ‘London Student’ conducted market survey of insurance offered to students. This may be good news for students living away from home who may wish to have their personal belongings covered. Although many insurers insist on a limit of £300 for a single item,the Royal Bank of Scotland has no limit if every item worth more than £500 is specified.

NatWest charges £68 for the same £3000 cover which it raises to £75.56 for non-account holders.

Karen MacFadyen, Assistant Manager of Student Marketing Services at the Royal Bank of Scotland told London Student “We aim to offer a complete package to students. They’re going to need all the help they can get, especially at College or University. I know that some insurers like Endsleigh won’t accept claims without proof of purchase. We’re more flexible with students. I believe Midland do specify that students in halls have to keep their belongings in a locked room or that certain items have to be taken home if they are away for a certain number of hours’’.

Halls of Residence are viewed as being “less risky’’ by underwriters whilst shared accommodation depends on the property’s postcode, with some codes having far greater costs depending on the crime rates in the locality.

Sumithra Kalidas

News Index

Centrepoint launches winter campaign to help young homeless on London's streets

CENTREPOINT, the charity that provides emergency shelters for young homeless people, will launch their new campaign this coming Wednesday at its headquarters in King’s Cross. Called ‘ Getting People Out of Boxes”, the campaign was originally scheduled to be opened by its late patron, Diana, Princess of Wales.

This winter will see the opening of a new rough sleeper’s hostel in King Cross and a new foyer, providing accommodation and training, in the City of London.

Besides providing its usual winter cold weather shelter, the charity, working together with some of the top restaurants in London, will be launching a new apprenticeship scheme to train and encourage young people to get into the catering industry. A parliamentary briefing on the implications for the government’s policy “Welfare To Work” will also be produced.

Each year hundreds of young homeless people benefit from the “Cold Weather Project” run by the charity. Not only do they provide them with temporary shelters, but also assistance in finding a job and access to health care.

In a report published earlier, the number of homeless people in London is estimated to be around 45,000. In addition, 32,000 single people are living unwillingly as part of someone else’s household or in overcrowded conditions. The report also states that 84% of the young people who arrive at Centrepoint have been forced to leave home of which nearly half of them are from black or ethnic minority communities. It is also thought that 32% of those who sought help from Centrepoint were 17 years of age or younger.

The campaign will also centre in on the wider problems which face the homeless, such as prostitution and intimidation on the streets.

Kent Yip

News Index

Survey warns employers to look out for low-flying students

A survey published last week shows that most students would choose personal development and an active home life to that of long work hours and megabuck salaries.

The business students who participated in this survey came from thirty colleges in ten countries with three top-notch UK universities, including the London School of Economics, participating.

The idea of a strong “corporate culture” with a guaranteed lifetime job at one company was cited as relatively unimportant. Additionally, the students said having colleagues to socialise with was more important than company profits. Performing works that benefit society as a whole was also voted as being of least importance.

Clearly, students want a demanding job that guarantees them financial success but do not want to have the problem of “career burnout” from overworking.

Moreover, students selected the development of oneself as the number one priority to that of career development, which was the second priority. Half selected a balanced lifestyle and a productive life outside of work as their number one goal. A third chose being in a strong financial position as very important, while a quarter wanted the opportunity to work with bright colleagues in a stimulating atmosphere.

The students questioned were taking degrees in marketing, accounting, and economics.

Stuart Rose

News Index

New Government attack on universities as Culture Secretary criticises quality of Media Studies

THE CULTURE Secretary, Chris Smith, has criticised some new media and film courses for lacking intellectual rigour, at the first meeting of the government’s new Creative and Media Task Force.

Mr. Smith spontaneously told a select group of journalists before the meeting that, although the creative industries are booming under the media-friendly Labour government, training remains a problem. Declining to name names, he said that while some of the new vocational course are good, others are disappointing.

The issue of media course quality was raised by Alan McGee, head of Creation Records - which manages Oasis - and a member of the Creative Media Task Force. He said that the quality of courses was “patchy”.

The Task Force, whose members include director David Puttnam, (famous for “Chariots of Fire” among other acclaimed films), and the designer Paul Smith, will meet for the second time in December. Accreditation as one way to raise standards will be discussed.

Paul Inman, course leader for the Television and Video Production degree course at Bournemouth University, thinks league tables will be introduced. He said: “Quite honestly, a lot of media courses are not very good”. But he is confident that Bournemouth, which has an 80 % success rate in getting graduates into media-related jobs and is in the top five nationally for media studies, will do well.

But Inman says, students should not think media courses are a “ticket to ride” into the media industry. They have “a lot of value, but it is getting harder to secure jobs above a quite menial level”, he said.

The professionals agree. A BBC recruitment spokesman declared that media degrees are “not enough”. She said “if a graduate has studied media - so what? They need something more”.

For this reason media departments are becoming increasingly specialised and vocational. Bournemouth, and London University’s Goldsmiths’ College both provide 50 percent technical training and 50 percent theory.

Numerous postgraduate diplomas in press and broadcast training, which are totally vocational and usually taken by graduates from other disciplines, are also available. Philip Howard, leader writer on The Times, lectures for the prestigious City University print journalism course: “In my day newspaper journalism was a world of dirty mac’s and notebooks. The media is a lot more complex now. Although there are still other ways in, courses provide useful skills” he said.

But, with 700 school leavers going on to study the media this year, Inman says the situation is becoming one of “survival of the fittest”.

Media courses are becoming much more popular, as reported in last week’s London Student.

While the number of applications is expected to fall, the proportion of students applying for these courses has been rising steadily in recent years.

Katherine Griffiths

News Index

Oxbridge alumni dominate boardrooms

A RECENT SURVEY shows graduates from Oxford and Cambridge still dominate the boardrooms of top British companies.

Out of the 5,000 directors and senior officers who have responded to the questionnaire, 53% are alumni of the two ancient universities. London University, the third most popular institution among the business gurus, accounts for 15%.

The two universities are believed to have the best environment to nurture the intellectual and social courage of their students. This was cited by Professor Bill Weinstein of the Henley Management College, a former don at Balliol, to explain their overwhelming dominance in many walks of life. This view, however, has been challenged by Walter Ellis, a former correspondent of The Financial Times, in his book “The Oxbridge Conspiracy”. It was the old boy network, he argued, rather than their genuine ability, that gave Oxbridge alumni the edge over their peers.

Dr Neil Harris, head of career advice service at UCL, disagreed that graduates from other universities were put at a disadvantage when competing for the top jobs against their Oxbridge peers. He accepted that alumni from the two ancient universities were more dominant in some fields, he stated that other universities had more influence in industries. UCL is currently the third largest contributor to the civil service after Oxbridge.

Kent Yip

News Index

Celebrities pledge to fast for Oxfam's Ten Basic Rights

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Friday November 14th is a day to remember if you are bent on participating in Oxfam’s Fast for Basic Rights.The Fast brings together people from all walks of life in demonstrating their support for Oxfam’s ten Basic Rights including equal opportunities and freedom from oppression and violence. Founded in 1942,Oxfam works with the less fortunate in over 70 countries world-wide in a bid to eradicate poverty, disease and famine.

This year celebrities such as Zoë and Johnny Ball, Michael Palin, the Spice Girls, Reeves and Mortimer and Richard Wilson have pledged their support for the annual event by vowing to give something up and get sponsored.

Having recently returned from a trip to Mali in West Africa Zoë Ball says of this year’s fast “Help us make this year’s Fast for Basic Rights the best one yet’’. Johnny Ball said of his trip to Mali “It’s inspirational to see that people that have so little to give have not given up hope. With your money, Oxfam can help them build a better future’’.

Henry Smith, Area Campaigns Executive of Oxfam Campaigns told London Student’ “ We aim to reach out to people right across the spectrum. This year alone, 80 schools are participating in the Fast. The celebrities’ presence also makes Oxfam more accessible. After all, they are doing the Fast as well”.

To participate, ring the Fastline on (0171) 931 9330.

Sumithra Kalida

News Index

British Library closes the door on its famous ghosts

On Saturday 25th October the British Library’s historic reading room will close its doors in the British Museum and complete its move to its new red buildings near St Pancras station.

The new building promises improved facilities, but many will miss the grandiose neo-classical architecture of the British Museum; the lingering presence of figures such as Marx and Gandhi who once used the Round Reading Room, and of course the artistic, intellectual air of Bloomsbury.

Opened in 1759 and since then free to the public, the British Museum has embarked upon the ‘Great Court Scheme’. With a £30 million grant from the Millennium Commission and various other funds, the plan is to restore the reading room to its original appearance of 1857- at present hidden by bookcases. The Round Reading room will be reopened in the autumn of 2000 and will be accessible to all. No longer a general library it will provide a study area and reference books. Inside the museum building the inner courtyard will be transformed into a steel and glass creation providing a new education centre with bookshops and restaurants.

The present estimate for the scheme is £90 million, but as with the Kings Cross project, supposedly to be opened next month after a delay of 10 years and £300 million over budget, the figure is likely to undergo some changes. It is hoped that the Museum will not have to charge entrance fees next year.

Jiva Schlotti

News Index

King's author encourages readers to get their 'Mauler's' on slang dictionary

A RECENT REVIVAL of the debate on the usage of slang in language inspired the re-publication last month of ‘The Dictionary Of Contemporary Slang’, written by Antony Thorne, director of the language centre at King’s College.

In conversation with London Student Tony Thorne he commented that “ People who are against the usage of slang say that it’s corrupting our language and that it’s stopping young people from using better language. But young people are much more sophisticated than these conservatives think. They indulge in ‘code switching’ or what is modifying language depending on who they are with”.

“Most slang starts as a secret code in small groups of friends whereby they can include people they want to in their groups and exclude others. If, for example, they had a word that they had just invented, say biff for cigarettes, they can talk about cigarettes and no one will know what they are talking about. Parents, teachers, the police and other kids are effectively excluded.’

Further he said, ‘Young people invent slang because they want language to be as exciting as their experiences . If they are drunk they don’t want to say ‘I am intoxicated’ or ‘I am under the influence of alcohol.’ Slang words like toasted, steamboats, squiffy, lockjawed or legless make exciting substitutes. Maulers (off !) are hands, a ralph is a right turn, rippy is thrilling and muggins is a victim.

The author, Antony Thorne, carried out his research by talking to students within King’s College, but also by interviewing several destitute people in the capital.

The dictionary itself is ‘user friendly’, fun to read and almost addictive. Author Thorne would be happy to receive contributions for the next edition of his dictionary. So if you have an exciting new word and ideally an example to describe its use e mail Antony Thorne, at

Kartika Batra

News Index

UCL celebrates one of its most important firsts with the help of past female students

UCL union is this week celebrating 100 years of women’s involvement in student life. Women were admitted to classes several years earlier but it was not until October 1897 that Rosa Morison, a warden of one of the women’s halls of residence, was allowed to set up the Women’s Union Society - the first university society in the country to allow women to join.

Before the foundation of the society female students were not allowed to participate in sporting activities or debating and were even excluded from the tea drinking club.

“It was a great event as far as the recognition of the rights of women students was concerned” Sorrel Moseley-Williams, Communications Officer at UCL said.

UCL union have enlisted the help of several companies and celebrities to celebrate the anniversary in style. Staff from the Body Shop will be performing makeovers and hand-massages. Other events include an all-women drama workshop, assertiveness training and careers talks.

A commemorative magazine “Wonder Women” was launched on Tuesday at a glamorous black-tie dinner. Guests included several famous alumnae including after dinner speaker Baroness Shreela Flather, the first Asian woman to sit in the House of Lords. The magazine features accounts of female student life at UCL over the last 100 years. Among those to have contributed is broadcaster Bel Mooney who recounts how in 1968 she was called up in front of UCL’s Women’s Tutor for getting married to Jonathan Dimbleby without permission from the college. “It’s amazing to see just how much the attitude to women students has changed even in the last 20 years” Moseley-Williams said.

Ayesha Basit

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