One of the things I love the most about my course is the freedom to study whatever I like. Despite my degree title being ‘American Literature with Creative Writing’ in my time at UEA I have studied American history, literature, journalism and photography. (Okay, that last one was whilst abroad, but it still counts). One of the reasons I chose this course at UEA — aside from the fact it is the best place in the country for American studies — was because it was billed as the Lego of degrees: build it yourself and create what interests you most. I have loved the freedom that has allowed me to pursue my interests and ignore the areas that are unappealing to me.

Whilst I have been unaffected by the changes to the course, I know many undergraduates will be disappointed to have some of that freedom taken away. In my second year, I was able to choose six modules that interested me and complemented one another — it was refreshing after the compulsory selections in first year to be able to finally focus on what I wanted to. Yet to add in two compulsory modules cuts this freedom down by a third. When the degree is made up of 18 modules (not including those studied abroad) and with such a wide selection to choose from, adding in two compulsory modules decreases what students are able to get from their degrees and from their time at UEA. I certainly know I would have been disappointed to have two of my module choices taken away from me in second year.

What makes this even more disappointing is the lack of consultation that happened before the decision was made. Students were not informed of the changes as they were considered to be ‘minor’. Unfortunately, had students been informed of the decision UEA would have discovered that these changes are not considered minor by the students themselves. Whilst this decision may have been in the best interests of the course (although with five compulsory modules in first year I am unclear as to why more are needed) students should have been informed properly before making the decision to study at UEA.

This week has been a busy one in the Concrete offices. From our annual sex survey supplement, to our guide to ‘Do Something Different Week’, this issue is completely packed with articles to cheer up those grey February mornings. Adding a splash of colour to our features pages are Lee and Sharmin (LGBT+ SU Officers) with their project, ‘28 days of Pride’. If you haven’t seen this on Facebook (in which case, which rock have you been hiding under?) make sure to check out pages 10 and 11 for some excerpts. You can read all the stories online (Facebook: ‘UEA 28 days of Pride’): it certainly is an inspiring and humbling read. One thing is certain, it’s great to see the support everyone who has contributed to the project has received online. It is a testament to how open and inclusive UEA, and Norwich as a whole, is. Linked to this, it is great to see that UEA is flying the pride flag for LGBT+ history month this year. From the cups in Unio to the banners in the Square, campus has had a rainbow makeover and it’s certainly brightening up my February. So, however you identify, have a happy LGBT+ history month.

We also have featured your handy guide to ‘Do Something Different Week’. If you’ve seen the signs around campus you know that something big is coming, and you definitely don’t want to be left out. We have featured profiles for all the characters involved in the campus wide murder mystery, ‘The Art and Science of Murder’. Make sure to come along to the media meeting on the 21st February to find out more about how you can be a tabloid journalist for week.

So have a very happy Valentine’s day from Concrete. We’ve given the rest of our issue a valentines theme: we’ve looked at the science of tinder and romantic minibreaks. For the slightly less romantically inclined Nick Ward’s ‘Lost in Translation‘ will provide a hilarious break from all the tedium of Valentine’s Facebook posts.

If you haven’t got someone to snuggle tonight, you can cuddle up with our Comment section and read about why it’s really just a load of tosh anyway. Happy V-day you cynical bunch.