Monday, August 04, 2008

Wake us up when September ends...

As August crawls its way into 2008, we can all look forward to our return to QUB in just over a month. International students are booking flights back to Belfast, new leases begin on student accomodation, second and third year students ignore their dreaded reading lists, and campus toilets are getting a fresh coat of paint in preparation for new student "literature".

With all that in mind The Gown team lie in wait for all that is to come...We guarantee to keep a firm finger on the pulse of student life at QUB for yet another year.

If you are interested in becoming a member of The Gown team as a writer, advertising manager or other, then contact co-editors Charlene Small and Catherine Wylie at

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Exam Guessing Game

First the exam timetables are late and now the computers are down...this Russell Group University really is making life difficult for its students.

The Student Executive (that's those guys fighting for your rights to party...sorry, we mean study) have launched a campaign, including letters to the VC (top dog at Queen's, Peter Gregson), petitions and even a shout-out involving a megaphone! The Deputy President wanted the VC to hear from his office window that "Queen's is a disgrace".

With reportedley 800 signatures so far, the petition is presumably aimed at resolving the problem for next year's examinations. At this stage (just over a week from the first provisional exam date) students are juggling revision with the cluedo-style game of wondering when exactly the exams are.

The executive have released a stern statement referring to student penalties for failing to meet deadlines, "If the University wants students to abide by their rules, then is it not about time they started to live up to them as well?"
. It is reported other Russell Group Universities released their exam timetables in March.

Queen's was subject to a barrage of petitions earlier this semester when exam results were published later than the date specified online.

To add to this an, albeit technical rather than administrative problem, with the networked computers (ie every single one in any of the Queen's buildings) has prohibited students from logging on and saving work to their hard drives in the past hour this evening. It is unknown at this stage how long the computers will be out of use but a librarian was "hopeful" the problem would be resolved soon.

Let us know your views on the issues.

As of 8th May the computers are up and running again and the timetables have now been made available on QOL. Perhaps Queen's just like to keep us on our toes? Or maybe it was the megaphone that did it!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Point of Clarification

The Gown would like to clarify a point within their front page story which has been labelled as ambiguous.

The quote from Pat McCarthy on sex offenders in the University area was included to highlight the problems in that area as well as to illustrate the presence of 'anti-social' community members more generally. It was not intended to label the man in question in the story as a sex offender.

We apologise for any meaning which some may feel can be implied and hope this clarifies the point for all readers.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Spotlight on Sex Offenders in University Area

The rape of an 18 year old girl in Botanic Gardens early this morning is the latest in a series of sexual assaults in the South Belfast area in recent times.

It is believed the girl was dragged into bushes by a man while walking on her own towards the Stranmillis exit of the Park. She had left a group of friends to go home, after they had been drinking in another area of the gardens.

In a BBC report, local councillor Alasdair McDonnell admitted "this area around Queen's, the Holyland and South Belfast generally is seen as an easy area for this type of attack".

Fellow SDLP councillor for the area, Pat McCarthy, confirmed in The Gown last week that, "The majority of sex offenders in Northern Ireland live in South Belfast, and the majority of them live in and around the University area. We know that for a fact".

At present four wardens patrol the area (only two per shift) known as The Holylands, which stretches from Agincourt Avenue to University Street, from Sunday to Thursday.

Botanic Gardens, a popular spot for students and the local community especially in May and June, is now receiving press and police attention for all the wrong reasons.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gown exposes Toilet Scandal

Secret University e-mails have exposed the reason for the closure of the Main library toilets over two years ago – University fears of ‘cottaging’, a term used for gay sex.

BBC Online questioned the University under the Freedom of Information Act as a direct result of a Gown story last February. It was subsequently revealed that the activity had been “going on for a number of years” in an e-mail between staff members in 2006.

Third year students and above may remember an all-student e-mail sent at the beginning of the 2006-7 academic year which referred to the toilets as a location for gay rendez-vous. The e-mail also contained harsh racist slurs. Spot checks and CCTV camera installation were considered as possible resolutions to the problem but in the end the toilets were closed.

Officially, Queen's has remained reluctant to publicly acknowledge the matter. It states that the closure was due to a number of reasons, including the “over-supply of toilets within the library building”.

Check out the BBC story here:

New Issue Out Now

The Gown's final issue of this academic year is available on campus now.

A man was found dead at a house on University Street two weeks ago. We talk exclusively to two students intimidated from Jerusalem Street as a result of his verbal abuse and physical damage to property. Four other households left the street between October 2007 and last month.

We delve into the lives of Romanian immigrants in South Belfast - How much do we really know about the reality behind the frequent request to, "Buy a rose?".

In this 40th anniversary year of the first civil rights protests of 1968, The Gown features former Queen's students, Bernadette McAliskey and Austin Currie as well as activists currently at the University.

Are you offended? Check out the results of our survey of a number of Queen's students and decide for yourself. Has the world gone PC mad?

Read about all of this plus the usual Student Shouts, Toilet Talk, The Hood and much more!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

'Ruthless' rent demands to dead student's parents

The recent news that the parents of a Co Armagh born student, who died suddenly while at University in Liverpool, may have to fight a court case over rent demands from their daughter's estate agent, has been greeted with scorn.

Shauna McCann died just two months ago while in her second year of study to become a special needs teacher. Her parents, who have been caused "undue stress and worry" over the matter, have received numerous requests from Brownlow Property Management for the remaining rent which stands at £866 from March to June of this year . The estate agents have defended themselves saying they do not feel their pursuit of the rent is in any way "callous or unsympathetic", stating there is still a contract there to be fulfilled.

However MLA for Newry and Armagh, Mickey Brady, condemned the demand as "ruthless" and displaying an "all about money, nothing about grief attitude". The Liverpool Daily Post reported that Liverpool Hope's Students' Union are said to be contacting the University to "find a solution and to spare the family any further suffering at this time". They have labelled the demand as "insensitive". At present the University has said they are not involved in the dispute.

Landlords and estate agents have rarely been held in high esteem by students - this incident has done little to negate this image.

What are your views?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Queen drops into Queen's

The Queen unveiled a stone in the black and white hall of Queen's today to mark the University's centenary year. The Royal visit, which was part of a three-day trip to Northern Ireland was quite low-key as regards news coverage however. A visit to East Belfast today and Armagh Cathedral tomorrow have received more press interest.

Among the guests were outgoing First Minister Ian Paisley, Irish President Mary McAleese as well as various high-flyers in the world of business including founder of Galen, Allen McClay. The Queen arrived in a black landrover swarmed by security around lunchtime today, leaving some two hours later.

A number of student councillors were also given the opportunity to be present at the event. It seems however that the visit was planned some months before a motion was passed at council to invite the Queen to the University (see post below).

Queen's hasn't seen such a high security presence since the then President of the US, Bill Clinton made a historic visit in 1995 (see picture).

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Obama's campaign advisor announces resignation on same day she visits Queen's

- John Beecher

Pulitzer Prize winning author and Harvard professor Samantha Power's visit to Queen’s as part of her UK tour promoting her new book Chasing the Flame, caused an unusually high level of press interest on Friday.

The talk was delayed due to a press gathering outside the Peter Froggatt Centre. This was due to Irish-born Power's resignation earlier that day as international affairs advisor to the Barack Obama presidential campaign over comments she made about Hillary Clinton in an interview with The Scotsman on March 4th. She labelled Clinton “a monster...that is off the record – she is stooping to anything.” Unfortunately for Power The Scotsman decided it was very much on the record and published her quote in full prompting the Clinton campaign to demand her resignation.

Beginning her talk by describing her comments as inexcusable, the author attributed them to tiredness and frustration and warned the academics attending the lecture of the dangers of becoming entangled in politics. She also apologised both to Senator Clinton whom she claimed to think very highly of and to Senator Obama saying she hoped she could offer her services in a future administration. Power went on to joke that this was just about the worst way she had ever had to begin a lecture!

DUP Family loses its Father

Last week's announcement that Ian Paisley (the original) is to retire came just two weeks after Ian Junior (the young pretender) handed in his resignation from the office of Junior Minister. Many had predicted this turn of events in light of the lost credibility of his son and as a result of the increasingly uncomfortable 'chuckle-brother' partnership formed with Martin McGuinness.

Eighty-two next month, the larger than life politician will no doubt be the subject of various documentaries charting his rise to prominence within Northern Irish and indeed UK politics. Despite the phenomenal change in policy in the past 12 months, most followers have refused to do anything but praise 'the Doc'.

The BBC, interested in the student point of view, interviewed a group of Queen's students on The Politics Show earlier today. Among them, Andrew Charles and Thomas Hogg spoke of the DUP as a "family party which every new member is welcomed into". Although certainly "different" after Paisley's departure, these young Unionists hope the party will continue to thrive and "serve the Unionist community" to the best of its ability.

So, the ultimate 'Never say "Never...Never...Never...Never"' man's reign is coming to an end. Will there ever be another like him? Is he deserving of the praise he has received from all corners of politics? Or is this giant of Unionism simply a sell-out, having succumbed to the trappings of power?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Rag Mag, PTQ, for sale

PTQ, the annual RAG magazine, was released for sale to the public yesterday. The original release date was set for last Monday to coincide with the beginning of RAG week, however this date was pushed back due to "printing difficulties".

At £2 per issue, all the proceeds will go to the chosen RAG charities this year (The Rape Crisis Centre, Aware Defeat Depression, Northern Ireland Children's Hospice and the Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide and Self-Harm) . This charitable society within the Union has encountered difficulties since September with appointed Organiser, Robbie Davis, having gone AWOL at the beginning of the year.

RAG has become less visible within the student community at Queen's in recent years for various reasons, namely lack of student interest, as cited in The Gown's last issue. It seems the antics of former RAG committees are no more and the £30,000 cheque presentations are a thing of the past.

Make sure to grab a copy of PTQ - it's for charity folks!
Contact Sarah McCaffrey

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"It better be good!"

This is not just an idle threat to newly elected VP Campaigns and Communications, James Murphy, from runner-up Andrew Gordon. The Gown would like to prescibe this bitter little pill to the whole executive.

The crowd, gathered in Bar Sub, were privy to a few surprises as the results of the 2008 Executive Elections were announced. Although underdog Michael Collins did not take the Presidency, his 969 votes did not provide the landslide victory Helferty had expected. In fact, in the President-elect's acceptance speech he made an aside to confirm his shock at such a closely contested result.

What was originally pitched as a foregone conclusion, hopes of "The Dream Team", were dashed by James Murphy's election to the newly created position of Campaigns and Communications.
In his acceptance speech, Murphy stated: "I'd just like to thank all the voters, campaigners and well-wishers, as well as all those who congratulated me. Although one person's absence deserves's a pity she didn't have the good grace to say 'well done'."

Paul Courtney, the new VP of Clubs and Societies left the crowd cringing at his no holds barred acceptance speech. He refused to apologise for 'pissing people off', open-handedly asking the crowd what they wanted him to do, "Cut it off?!".
Never one to comment, The Gown would like to leave the answering of this question to bloggers.
Courtney also lackadaisically apologised for his absence on the first day of voting: "Unfortunately I couldn't make it on Tuesday, but sure I was half cut".

Conceding her defeat to the position of VP for Clubs and Societies, Debbie McCook took the opportunity to thank her loyal supporters, especially those who put her straight on when exactly voting began.

Kelly, Brogan and McAleavey (the latter ran unopposed) made their appreciation clear in their acceptance speeches, rounding off an eventful round of election results.

The Gown looks forward to a colourful year with this not-so-secret Seven.