Welcome back to UEA. It’s been a busy Christmas for universities, with reshuffles and free speech crackdowns.
UEA students have been pretty busy too – on our backpage, Daniel Cook has interviewed two midwifery students preparing to run the Brighton Marathon. On page six, Matt Nixon reports on scuppered private accomodation plans in the city, something many students may disagree with.
If like me, you found yourself struggling to keep up with the cacophony of international and national politics this Christmas break, thankfully Concrete is back to catch you up to speed.
Donald Trump has, to the surprise of nobody, been on another tirade of volatile and contradictory tweets. Daniel Peters rounds up the fallout from the release of a controversial White House expose and the situation regarding North Korea on page eight. This week also saw the announcement that Trump was cancelling his trip to the UK to open a new US embassy in London. His mind was reportedly made by fears of UK dissent to the visit. Last year it was heartening to see Norwich turn up to protest the travel ban outside City Hall. The executive order, signed in January, suspended immigration from seven majority Muslim countries and banned Syrian refugees from entering the country indefinitely.
Norwich’s act of defiance was maybe a small one in itself but proved to be a reassuring and affirming gesture that people across the world would not accept xenophobia. A year later and the protests continue. A second sequence of Women’s Marches are planned for this week, to mark a year since Trump’s inauguration.
On a similar note, this fortnight, Comment is taking a hard look at the debate you either love, or hate to see in the media: free speech on campus. It’s a divisive issue, and one with plenty of misinformation around it. (Fake news, if you will). Words like ‘censorship’ and ‘no-platforming’ abound, with statements from the likes of the Sp!ked blog being cited as the cold, hard truth. Our double page spread takes the issue beyond buzzwords and looks at the outgoing Jo Johnson’s plans to introduce a regulatory body for free speech on UK campuses.
Professor Alan Finlayson, head of the Politics, Philosophy and Language school, has written for us this issue on page 16. He sums up the views of many students towards the reforms, including mine, in his argument that the Students’ Union “may be daft not to invite certain speakers, but that should be decided by members of the Union.”
On page eight, Ollie Ryan Tucker sheds some light on the situation in Iran and the reaction to government suppression there. It is a reminder that whilst we all love to joke about sombreros, citizens’ freedom of speech and expression are threatened across the globe in a far graver way than cancelling a UKIP meet and greet in Lecture Theatre 2.
If that seems a bit too heavy, Giorgia Rose explains the new food fad of the year on page 13 in Features. Apparently pickles are all the rage now. Who knew?
Travel editor Beverly Devakishen writes of the road trip she took around the UK with her family this Christmas. Travelling to eight cities, she writes of how spending a short amount of time in each place made her appreciate it all the more. “Daylight was precious, especially because we were there in the winter, so we learnt to rush around each city during the day and rest during the night,” she writes on page 19.
The new year also means it’s almost time for Concrete’s annual sex survey issue. There’s still plenty of time to take the survey, so make sure you head to surveymonkey. com/r/concrete-2018 to tell us your secrets. The results will be kept totally anonymous and published Tuesday 13 February in a special issue. Share the survey with your pals when you’re done.
If you want to get involved in Concrete this year, there is no better time than now. (January is the new September).
Team Concrete will be at refreshers fair on Wednesday 17 January to chat to anyone who wants to get involved in 2018. Be it copy editing or writing or illustrating, putting together a student newspaper takes a village. Or if being back in the LCR in the daylight on a Wednesday isn’t an experience you want to subject yourself to, come along to post pub pub the day before.
On Tuesday 16 January writers and editors will be meeting as usual – new faces are always welcome so if you’d like to get to know more about Concrete and what we do then head down to Red Bar from 7pm. So come say hi!