Amy Fox

Writer. Editor. Bad at blogging.


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Concrete: New Union constitution to improve student democracy

Union Council has approved the first draft of the Union of UEA Students’ (UUEAS) new constitution, which will allow students more say in how the union is run.

The constitution must be reviewed every five years by the union. If approved by the university on 20 May, the most significant change will be the transferal of policies which were previously part of the constitution to by-laws, making them more easily changed and contested by students.

The by-laws which directly affect students include society constitutions and codes of conduct for socials, including the advice “Don’t get too carried away … If the police are speaking to you relating to your behaviour you have gone way too far”, and the rules “Do not urinate, defecate or vomit anywhere apart from in a toilet!” and “Do not carry out ‘initiation’ ceremonies”.

Policy dictating the procedure for complaints about union services, including societies and clubs will also be easier to change, as well as disciplinary procedures such as the ability to suspend clubs and societies.

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Concrete: UEA to defer Syrian students’ fees

The University has said that it will be deferring fees “where possible” for Syrian students that are struggling financially, but it will not waive fees altogether despite a petition of almost 300 signatures.

SyriaSyrians protest Assad’s regime in Times Square, NYC last March. Photo: Flickr / asterix611.

Pro-vice-chancellor Prof. Nigel Norris met with representatives of the Union of UEA Students (UUEAS) and Syrian students to discuss the matter last Friday (22/3). The students have been assured that they will not be automatically expelled if they are unable to pay.

A statement from the University said: “All cases will be looked at individually and fee deferrals agreed where possible. A member of staff from the Dean of Students’ office is meeting each of the affected students individually and discussing appropriate options and support with them.”

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Concrete: Police warn of potential thefts over Easter

Home Run is asking students to remove any letting agency billboards from outside their houses during the Easter period.

Police warn of potential thefts over Easter

Photo: Albert Bridge

Norfolk Constabulary have warned the Union of UEA Students that previous years have seen an increased number of break-ins during the Easter holidays.

The Union’s Student Support Services manager Jo Spiro said: “Billboards with ‘Student Properties – Rooms to Let’ are an easy way for opportunistic thieves to decide which house might be easy to break into and where they might find multiple laptops and TVs.

“If your house will be empty over Easter ask your landlord or agent if you can temporarily remove the billboard.”

For more advice and information go to ueastudent.com/housing.


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Concrete: University refuses to fly Pride flag

The Union of UEA students has said that it feels “great disappointment” over a decision by UEA not to fly the Pride flag in February to mark the beginning of LGBT+ History Month.

In an open letter of response to the University’s decision, LGBT+ officer Richard Laverick said the Union felt that flying the flag “would send a clear message to LGBT+ students, staff and visitors, that they are most welcome and can expect to be treated equally and respectfully on campus. Furthermore it would strengthen its commitment to ensuring the safety and rights of its students, regardless of sexuality or gender identity. Finally it would signal to all people its unwavering stance against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.”

In the Union’s LGBT+ student experience survey last year, 83% said they wanted the University to fly the flag. Other institutions to do so in previous years include the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich City Council, Norwich Castle, East Anglian NHS Trust, The Co-Operative, Wadham College (Oxford University) and the University of Reading.

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Concrete: UEA pay ratio revealed

The University have responded to a campaign by the UEA Greens asking for a 10:1 pay ratio between the highest and lowest paid members of UEA by saying that it is already the case.

Part of a wider national 10:1 campaign across universities, president of the UEA Greens Chris Jarvis said: “Universities have the highest average pay ratio of the publics sector and this has been rising in recent years, currently averaging at 15:1.

“This growing inequality is grossly unfair, especially at a time of austerity when public sector workers are being made redundant, and departments of universities are being cut, as we saw with the shutting down of the UEA Music School.”

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Concrete: First years to receive Higher Education Achievement Report

Students starting UEA this year will be the first to graduate with a Higher Education Achievement Report (Hear) alongside their degree qualification.

The Hear takes many different aspects of students’ time at UEA into account. This includes a breakdown of all modules taken across the degree, including retakes, but will also acknowledge awards, extracurricular activities and sports achievements which have been verified by the University.

The report will be an electronic document which follows a standard format across all of the 109 universities who have already signed up to adopt the system.

Students will be able to view the report throughout their degree, with a view to encourage them to stay motivated and start thinking about employability as soon as possible. In a blog post for the Guardian, University of Leicester professor Bob Burgess, chair of the steering group introducing the Hear, said: “At a time when students have just started to pay higher fees, the Hear is a clear example of how universities can provide greater value. For employers, it offers the chance to see in more detail what students have achieved at university and make comparisons between job applicants.”

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Concrete: ParaNorman

Laika’s ParaNorman is the heart-warming tale of a young boy who sees dead people, which, as Bruce Willis knows, is always a winner.

More interested in hanging out with his dead grandma than the living people around him, Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) is just your average misunderstood paranormal 11 year old until he has to help save his town from a witch’s curse (oh, and zombies).

While the story is a little predictable, it’s still sweet and entertaining. There are some endearing and funny moments, mostly dependent on the mix of conventional horror tropes and realistic domestic comedy, such as Norman and his sister being chastised by their mother for squabbling with one of the zombies in the back seat of the family car. There are also several more self-aware “adult” moments which set it apart from the average kids’ film. The stop-motion animation amongst the standard CGI gives it a classic edge, particularly alongside the out-of-proportion character design.

While there could have been a few extra horror references for the movie-buffs and more shocking twists and turns, ParaNorman is an enjoyable watch with a superbly balanced blend of mock-horror and comedy.


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Concrete: Enterprise centre could make Norwich a “green capital”

UEA are hoping to pioneer one of the most “trailblazing” sustainable buildings in the country.

Instead of the University’s infamous concrete, the £15.9m NRP enterprise centre will be made from locally-sourced renewable materials such as timber and chalk. It will be used by students and new businesses in order to provide a link between UEA and the local community.

Following an exhibition of the plans at the Sportspark on Tuesday 7 August, the EDP reported project director John French as saying: “What we are trying to do is create a world-class building that is exemplary in its low-carbon performance. Just like the Olympics, we want to create a buzz about the place.

“It will be a huge benefit to Norwich’s economy and to Norwich’s reputation as a green capital. It is a statement building. It states a set of values associated with the university, making its contribution at a practical level towards addressing climate change. Alongside our world-class research and teaching this is a practical example of how we can put it into practice.

“We want to demonstrate that this is possible to do, so that people will copy it. People never change in society unless someone comes along and does something differently.”

The goal for the enterprise centre will be 168 kilos of CO2 per square metre. This is extremely low when compared to the best practice of “embodied energy” university buildings, which currently at 845.

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Concrete: Police close Climategate case

Police announced yesterday (18 July 2012) that they have closed the investigation into the theft of emails which began the Climategate scandal at UEA in November 2009. No criminal proceedings will be followed, with the breach being described by the Norfolk Constabulary Major Investigation Team as a “sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s [Climate Research Unit’s] data files, carried out remotely via the internet.”

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Julian Gregory, said: “Despite detailed and comprehensive enquiries, supported by experts in this field, the complex nature of this investigation means that we do not have a realistic prospect of identifying the offender or offenders and launching criminal proceedings within the time constraints imposed by law.

“The international dimension of investigating the World Wide Web especially has proved extremely challenging … There is no evidence to suggest that anyone working at or associated with the University of East Anglia was involved in the crime.”

In response to the case’s closure, UEA vice-chancellor Professor Edward Acton said: “We are naturally disappointed that those responsible for this crime have not been caught and brought to justice. We are very grateful to Norfolk Constabulary for their sustained effort over the last two-and-a-half years, and appreciate the difficulty of devoting continued resources to such a complex international investigation. Clearly the perpetrators were highly sophisticated and covered their tracks extremely carefully.

“The misinformation and conspiracy theories circulating following the publication of the stolen emails – including the theory that the hacker was a disgruntled UEA employee – did real harm to public perceptions about the dangers of climate change. The results of the independent inquiries and recent scientific studies have vindicated our scientists, who have returned to their important task of providing the best possible scientific information on this globally critical issue.”

Meanwhile, Professor Phil Jones, Research Director of the CRU, commented: “I would like to thank the police for their work on this difficult investigation and also for the personal support they offered me. I am obviously disappointed that no-one has been prosecuted for this crime but hope today’s announcement will draw a line under the stressful events of the last two and half years. My colleagues and I remain committed to the research CRU undertakes to illuminate the globally important issue of climate change.”

The investigation, “Operation Cabin”, focused on the unauthorised access of material, an offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990. However, there is a three-year limit to proceedings after the original offence, meaning that Norfolk Constabulary, in consultation with The Met, were forced to close the case, with the possibility of finding the perpetrator deemed unrealistic.

Independent inquiries into the Climategate emails did not find any evidence of wrongdoing by the CRU scientists.


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Concrete: Confusion over results leaves students frustrated

Updated 4 July: According to Dr Andrea Blanchflower, director of Learning and Teaching Services, yesterday’s deadline for final students was met in all schools. The deadline for continuing students is 5pm on 10 July.

A document from the Learning and Teaching Service (LTS) webpage said that the “Deadline for publication of pass lists” would be 3 July. However, for the last few days, the official UEA Twitter account, @uniofeastanglia, has been informing individuals that continuing students will get their results by the end of the week.

There was no official announcement from the University explaining this, and when the 3 July deadline passed, many continuing students appeared to remain uninformed, describing themselves on Twitter as “frustrated”, “fuming” and “sick of waiting”.

After saying that they “understand frustrations” on Twitter, the University went on to announce that the 3 July deadline was for finalists only, most of whom have their results. However, this was also seen as unacceptable by some, with law student James Laughlin citing the month-long wait for many finalists as a “bit of a joke” considering the imminent graduation ceremonies.

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