Saturday, May 12, 2007


The following article was front page of our recent issue - the posting of this piece on the blog is to encourage debate among students as to what your views are of the situation.

A donation to the building of Queen’s new £45 million library has caused Amnesty International to call on the University to mount pressure on the company in question which is allegedly involved in Human Rights abuses in the Middle East. The Caterpillar Foundation - the charitable branch of Caterpillar Inc – donated $100,000 last November to the Sir Anthony O’Reilly library due for completion in 2009.

Caterpillar is one of the main suppliers of bulldozers to the Israeli army which has been criticised by the United Nations for its destruction of Palestinian homes and farmland. The West Bank and Gaza Strip have long been areas of contention between Israel and Palestine. A separation barrier, referred to by Israelis as a Security Wall and Palestinians as an Apartheid Wall, is partially complete and undergoing continued construction in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In an Advisory Opinion given by The International Court of Justice the wall was ruled to be contrary to International law. In an excerpt from an Amnesty International report of 2004 it was stated “Tens of thousands of men, women and children have been made homeless or have lost their livelihood as a result of house destruction by the Israeli army.”

The Gown’s coverage of this story has provoked Amnesty International to issue a press release calling on Queen’s to take action on their corporate sponsor. Such a donation is “the perfect opportunity for the University to ask some hard questions of the company” according to Peter McGovern, chairperson of Queen’s Amnesty Student Society. “Caterpillar may see this donation as a positive PR opportunity - let's see them prove their bona fides as good corporate citizens by ending their complicity in these abuses.”

In a statement from Queen’s, the University maintained that they had “accepted the gift in good faith having undertaken due diligence”. Caterpillar’s Code of Worldwide Business Conduct asserts “As a company and as individuals, we hold ourselves to the highest standard of integrity and ethical behavior” yet they maintain a lack of “the practical ability or legal right” to control the use of their machinery after it is sold.

Patrick Corrigan, Programme Director of Amnesty Northern Ireland has urged both the University and the student body to “bring pressure on Caterpillar Inc for their role in the destruction of Palestinian homes.” A small group of (Socialist?) students held demonstrations at the front of the University before Christmas but the general consensus is that the majority are simply not aware of the donation or Caterpillar’s role in the these human rights violations.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Non-Sabs Announced

The non-sabbatical elections are over for another year with the winners (see below) tonight basking in glory and the runners-up drying their eyes. This year's election did not engender quite the same atmosphere as the sabbatical elections - sadly no circus performers were present - nonetheless candidate manifestoes were widely available and posters were prominent around campus, which is still an improvement on previous years.

As with any election, especially one taking place in Queen's Student's Union, there were a few incidents of note. Bebo reared its ugly head yet again with allegations of slander between fellow candidates - although the situation was resolved before voting took place.

One of the candidates is alleged to have, in a desperate plea to students hard at work, climbed on top of a table in the computer science library and urged everyone to put their pens down and clearly wasn't a forceful enough persuausion tool as said candidate failed to be elected.

The post-election drama continued with a successful candidate deliberately thanking only one of their two opponents for a 'fair' campaign in a telling acceptance speech.

With the Windel report threatening a huge shake-up in the Union, these could be the last non-sabbaticals to fill the roles as they've traditionally been known for years. As always the coming academic year will prove whether the elected persons will do practical work for the students at Queen's or if their manifestoes were simply false promises...

Student Community Action Officer - Sharon Simpson
Post-Graduate Officer - David McKeown
Cultural Affair's Officer - Alexandra Hobson
Women's Officer - Jennifer Dunn
International Students' Officer - Artur Magrian
Mature Students' Officer - Caroline Lagan

The Snack(less) Room...

This time of year sees the library full to capacity with students up to their necks in coursework, exam revision...and general student-style tardiness on work they were too busy (getting ready for the Union on a Monday night) to do during the year.

24 hour opening of the Seamus Heaney library in the last few weeks of term allows people to work round the clock if necessary.

And, if one should be typing like a creature possessed at 2am when suddenly struck with a ferocious thirst, they can make their way to the snack room where the vending machines provide a wide range of drinks and snacks - the fuel required to punch out those extra 1000 words for that dissertation due the next day. Or can they?

Lately the facilities have been dire - a snack room void of snacks, less water than the Sahara desert. Surely with extended opening hours the provision of extra food and drinks should be taken into consideration. It may seem like a petty problem but when its early morning and you're parched only to find the little red light on the vending machine is flashing AGAIN so you can't quench your thirst it can be pretty frustrating to say the least...

Anyone else agree?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Gown Hardcopy Issue comes out of hibernation...

Its here - Pick up a FREE copy, have a read, let us know what you think!

To think some actually doubted us...

(Available at various locations around the Union, the libraries, Elms, etc)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Alleged Intimidation of Bar Staff in Mandela

Following positive reports from some of those in attendance at the recent Ulster-Scots night in the Union, there have been negative allegations concerning a political figure present on the night. It is thought a shout of 'No Surrender' from the crowd was then reiterated by the DUP deputy Mayor while giving a speech towards the end of the concert.

Although denied by organiser, SCA Officer Eddie Hanna, who admitted "Someone from the crowd may have shouted 'No Surrender' but with 300-odd people there it is impossible to pin-point that person", others in attendance have spoken of intimidation. A member of the bar staff said he had really enjoyed the music and atmosphere until the Deputy Mayor's speech which was highly politicised. At this point he swapped bars with another worker as he felt "uncomfortable and intimidated" in the main Mandela Hall Bar.

A DVD of the night is due for release soon...

It has been confirmed by a member of the Executive that two complaints have been made regarding this incident. These will be discussed and a course of action will be decided upon next week when the Executive meet.