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.