This fortnight, UEA students have been asking difficult questions.
Striking a balance between having political debates, making decisions, and ensuring every student feels safe and comfortable during these two processes is evidently a delicate one to try and achieve.
But it’s important to have these conversations, and it was reassuring to hear some students praise the nature of last week’s Union Council debate on the retention of a 2015 policy relating to Israeli products.
Unfortunately, some students did not feel this way, and described feeling like the debate was a confusing process, in which they only had a short amount of time to hear from both sides and process a complex issue. No doubt there will be more conversations about how this was handled in the weeks to come.
Our second front page story addresses a worrying trend of students being unable to make their rent. During the last academic year, 72 UEA students found they could not pay their accommodation fees in full, and so far in this academic year 14 students have faced the same problem.
This is also a nuanced topic, and we need to be careful of making huge assumptions. However, these statistics do lead to questions about the rising costs of student accommodation, both at UEA and at universities across the country, and the increasing costs of student living. It is also questionable as to whether changes to the student loan system, with the abolition of the Maintenance Grant, have played a role in the development of this.
On a similar topic, on page 4, Patrick Wiseman reports on Sam Gyimah, the new Universities Minister, and his declaration that he will be carrying out an investigation into the current system of tuition fees.
In Features this week, new co-editor Amy Newbery looks at racism and microaggressions. She reminds us to be considerate and careful with language, writing: “I have many international friends and acquaintances who have also said they have experienced casual racism. I mean, how many times have I heard something along the lines of: all you Asians look the same. Really? Maybe you should have your eyes checked because it’s an undeniable fact that we, in fact, are not clones.”
On page 19, Science editor Beth Papworth reports back on the visit of astronaut Michael Foale, who spent 373 days in space, to campus last week. She describes how the astronaut told a packed UEA lecture theatre that it was only when he went to the moon he realised he wanted to be an astronaut.
Similarly, on page 11, Sean Bennett offers some wise words to anyone feeling homesick this term: fake it till you make it. “It will happen, and when it does, you’ll find that when you’re with your new mates, thoughts of home plague you less and less, your little room in halls suddenly seems less depressing and your burning desire to jump on the next bus out of here seems to disappear,” he writes. Sounds like good advice to me.
As for Concrete? We’ll be back in the office on Monday, ready to start putting together a special issue looking at the results from this year’s sex and relationships survey. Breaking news and award-winning features aside, we know this is what you’re really here for.