Monday, April 30, 2007

Gown Issue due out...finally!

The Gown is aware there has been a lull in reporting on the blogspot lately. We apologise to all of the contributers who have not been able to comment, whether it be postively or negatively on issues which arise. The lack of activity on the site has not been as a result of laziness or even due to the impending exams or ever-nearing coursework deadlines though.

We have been wary of typing the following words for some time for fear they may inflict a further jinx on what has seemed a cursed year for the paper...but the time has finally come.

The Gown will release a hardcopy issue on Thursday 3rd May, denying some the pleasure of seeing a full academic year pass by without a publication. It has taken nine months to sort out an issue which, if people had been willing to take responsibility initially, could have been resolved long ago.

Despite the setbacks our perseverance has paid off and we hope to have played some small part in the continued success of The Gown for many years to come. Look out for the issue which will be available free of charge at various locations around the University and Union.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Gown steals DUP Limelight

No folks, you're eyes weren't deceiving you - for all those watching BBC1's documentary tonight on 'The Rise and Rise of the DUP' we would just like to confirm that it was the best student newspaper in Northern Ireland you saw shamelessly plugged in a 10 second camera shot!

On hearing of the imminent arrival of Mr Paisley and his fellow 'No-turned-Yes' men to the Fresher's Bazaar last year, The Gown decided some free advertising courtesy of the BBC wouldn't go amiss. With a full shot of the front page of an old issue and a lingering glimpse of the editors in action interviewing Ian Jnr I think we successfully achieved our goal.

And to think Mr McGourty had reservations about giving us a stall at all...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ulster-Scots night held in Union

The recent Ulster-Scots event organised within the Union was an attempt to address the imbalance of students using the facilities at Queen's according to the Student Community Action Officer within the Union. Edward Hanna has said he dedicated his second year in office to making Protestant students feel more welcome within the Union.

According to a report published by the University, Protestant students followed closely behind international students in being the two most under-represented groups at Queen's. Having worked on raising the profile of international students last year attention was turned to the second group. Mr Hanna said, "I feel this concert not only gives the Ulster Scots Culture a firm grounding at Queens students Union, it also gives the Protestant community/culture a welcome revival to what had gone previously within the Union. "

The event was hailed as a great success by the SCA officer who noted the diverse nature of the crowd which saw students "from both communities and also Chinese, Asian and Czechs, and 2 Americans". Crossgar Pipe entertained for 40 min before Mourne Young Defenders " stole the show with an 80min world class display". Beggars Row, an Irish/Scottish celtic group then took over for the rest of the evening.

There have been some allegations of 'No Surrender' chants by a few within the crowd but so far these are unsubstantiated and Mr Hanna has said he will have a look at a video recording of the event to establish whether these allegations are true or not.

Overall the SCA officer was proud of the 300 crowd who turned up and stated that he hopes this event will become an annual event. Perhaps the Irish Folk Music Society will hold an evening in the Union next.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Neo named 'International Student of the Year'

Of more than 2000 over-seas students across the UK, our very own Yu Huai Zhang has been named 'International Student of the Year'. More familiar by his English name, Neo was awarded the title for demonstrating "the power of positive thinking and involvement in wide-ranging activities outside the academic arena".

Having detailed his experience of life in Northern Ireland in a letter to his father in China he explained that the decision to study at Queen's has "paved my way to a bright future allowing me to shine". Neo has played an active part in the Union during his four years studying Management in Belfast and ran for President during the recent sabbatical elections.

The award is a recognition of the many achievements Neo has had while living here. He was the first Chinese national to be installed as a student officer at the University, was voted best newcomer by staff at Invest NI in 2006 where he spent a year on placement and has even translated a prisoner's handbook into Mandarin and Cantonese.

In an interview with Good Morning Ulster, Neo revealed that Queen's long and established history as a leading University in the UK was an influential reason for deciding to study well as a love of 'the black stuff' of course!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

All change for the North?

In a fortnight that saw Gerry and Ian agree to share power and Healy put the ball in the back of the net yet again for the 'green and white army' things are looking very positive for Northern Ireland. BBC radio, clearly interested in the student point of view, had the Union Deputy President elect on to speak about her observations of the student reaction in the eventful fourteen days that have passed.

Sarah McCaffrey, a politics student in her final year, pointed out that the overwhelming joy of most students came on last Wednesday rather than Monday 26th when the soccer team beat previously undefeated Sweden 2-1. She explained that many students donned green shirts to celebrate the win, and watched both the North and Republic's games with equal interest.

On the subject of what has been hailed by Tony Blair as "a very important day" and by Gerry Adams as " a new era" it seems students are very apathetic and struggled to develop any real interest. Ms McCaffrey offered an explanation in the fact that our generation has witnessed the GFA which was hailed as a major step for Northern Ireland but has subsequently seen almost 10 years of little progress since. Are we a more cynical generation as a result - needing proof of practical solutions before we can get enthused about political developments here?

Of course since then we have witnessed further enthusiasm on the part of the Rev Ian; a warm smile, a firm handshake and a pat on the back for the Taoiseach earlier in the week. In the years gone by this would have been inconceivable but now it seems the DUP leader is ready to root out the over-grown hedges between the North and South in favour of a friendlier attitude.

Has reality bitten for the man whose claim of 'No Surrender' was once thought to have been unchallengable? Perhaps realising the end of his career is nigh he has sought to 'go out on a high' as it were? Why has this once outspoken critic of all things Nationalist now finally agreed to share power with their most extreme element?