Monday, October 29, 2007

PETA claim Union is "nannying" students

Following a recent exhibition in the Student’s Union, Animal Rights group PETA have alleged censorship by the Executive over posters (left) used as part of their ‘Animal Liberation Project’ display. The posters in question were placed at the entrance of the Union to attract the attention of students walking by and encourage interest in the exhibition in a Club Room on the third floor.

Alistair Currie, Senior Research and Campaigns Co-ordinator with PETA said, "While we're genuinely grateful for the opportunity to show the exhibition in the first place, the restrictions placed on us really were excessive". Queen’s is the first UK University to host the exhibition which has already been displayed in 18 Universities across America and features images of both animal and human slavery raising questions over possible similarities between the two. Mr Currie continued, "Surely universities are places for debate and freedom of expression. We know this project is controversial but do Queen's students really need to be nannied?"

The Executive claims, "The Students’ Union Executive Management Committee made every effort to accommodate PETA’s Animal Liberation Display" but decided that "due to the somewhat distressing nature of some of the images it would be best if PETA held the display in a Club Room, so as not to force students to view images (in the foyer) that they may find distressing."

Peta have subsequently questioned the "real inconsistency" of prohibiting their posters while a poster sale on the same day displayed an image of a partially naked woman (above right) at the Union entrance in full view of passing students. Mr Currie asked "Does anyone really think that no one will be offended by the woman - or that the mere sight of a battery shed would offend people?" The Union Executive have stated that they have received no complaints about the poster sale images to date "and will deal with complaints as they arise."

What is your view? Was the Union right to ban the posters from the foyer? Is this, as PETA have claimed "nannying" of adult students? Is the poster of the female offensive/as offensive/not offensive at all? Have your say!

From Burma to Belfast

- Ryan McAleer

Queen’s students were given the rare opportunity last week to listen to a talk from the head of Burma’s Government in exile. Prime Minister, Dr Sein Win (right) and his colleague Dr Thaung Htun, a UN diplomat, called on students to help mount pressure on Burma’s ruling military regime. He told the capacity crowd, “The time is now, the people are rising up. Don’t let them get away, this time we have a good chance.”

Dr Win, elected to the exiled National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) in 1990 is a first cousin to pro-democracy activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Along with Dr Htun he has been appealing to political leaders and students across Ireland to focus the outrage felt at the suppression of the recent protests in Burma for a final push towards democracy in the country.

The public meeting was organised by Amnesty International and Burma Action Ireland. Patrick Corrigan from Amnesty described Dr Win and Dr Htun as “fearless campaigners in trying to bring accountable government and human rights to Burma over the last two decades” Dr Sein Win described the present situation as crucial, he said “the people are now almost starving, they cannot tolerate anymore”.
Dr Thaung Htun also addressed the overwhelming turnout in the Student’s Union; he described the symbolic importance of the Student’s Union in Burma for producing heroes and leaders of the struggle for democracy. He told the many students in attendance, “Whenever I see young students, what I remember is, that is my dream, for the younger generation of our country to have the same kind of opportunities as you.”

Dr Htun recounted the sacrifice made by the student’s in Burma’s long struggle dating back to the military coup in 1962 and through the many other protests and upheavals including the mass slaughter of thousands of protesters in 1988. He described the courage of the students who still speak out on behalf of the people, knowing they can be arrested.

Before dispersing students were encouraged to help keep the momentum of recent outrage going through activism. For more information visit

Friday, October 26, 2007

Belfast Eye...sore?

- Jayne McCormack

Am I the only one who seems to have noticed a giant eye in the middle of Belfast?
That's right, they've brought the aptly London Eye right to our doorstep. Well, a similar looking attraction anyway.

Only it's not really an attraction. To me, and I'm sure to many others, it's practically an eyesore (excuse the pun). Estimated to have cost £3.5 million, we now have something that resembles a big Ferris wheel in our back garden. Certainly, it may increase tourism during the Christmas season, but I have a few qualms with the Eye.

Firstly, why on earth would the people of Belfast want a Belfast Eye? If you want to experience going up in the air and round in a circular motion, not only can you go to London and do this, but there are also other things called Ferris wheels people. They cost less and go faster.

Why does Belfast appear to be conforming to what other cities, such as Manchester and Seville, have done? According to the BBC, each trip on the Belfast Eye will last fifteen minutes and will give passengers "panoramic views" of the city. I'd like to know exactly how it will be possible to have these "panoramic views", because from what I've judged, the Belfast Eye isn't exactly in the most ideal of locations to do so. Why didn't they place the Belfast Eye nearer to the waterfront rather than in the middle of town beside City Hall? It just makes no sense whatsoever.

I also have real issues with the cost of the Belfast Eye. Instead of spending the money in areas where it's needed (in hospitals, education, or even in charitable areas, considering it's almost Christmas!) the council is openly whoring out the city to tourism! In my opinion, it's completely unacceptable. The only thing that prevents me from wholly slating the eye is that it's not a permanent fixture in Belfast. It's only here until March 2008, so far, but rumours are circulating that this could change if the Eye is successful.

That is why I'm calling on the people of Belfast to boycott this monstrosity. Not only will it be over-priced, but it's completely over-industrializing our city! I love Belfast, but I don't see why we need to do what other cities are doing to increase tourism. It's a piece of machinery that spins round. To me, the Belfast Eye is not tourism. It's a way for the greedy moneymakers in our society to exploit people around Christmas time.

Instead of queuing up for hours to get on the oh-so magnificent Belfast Eye, do yourself a favour - go to the Christmas market, talk to the citizens of Belfast, get a hot chocolate, buy presents, and go sightseeing in your own way. You'll have a much better time than you would by standing in an over-hyped, over-priced, badly placed Ferris wheel!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The SRC wants you!

- Barry Magee

On the 30th and 31st of October you students will go to the polls to elect a new Student Representative Council (SRC) for 2007/08. Students can vote online via Queen's Online (

For those students new to Queen’s, or for those current students who are unaware, the SRC is the body of students elected to broadly represent student interest within the union, the university and society as a whole.

The SRC role is to hold the executive to account, lobby the university on behalf of students, formulate Students' Union policy, to make decisions on a range of issues that affect students and to scrutinise the general administration of the Students' Union.

So why should you stand? Any student can apply. Students are encouraged to take part as the SRC can be a very rewarding experience and could certainly benefit a student’s CV. It can be a good way to make new friends and to have influence over what goes on within the SU and outside it.

This year focus will be on how many candidates the newly established QUB Greens and Fianna Fail at Queen's run.

Nominations for the SRC close on the 24th of October at 5 pm while open and post-graduate constituencies’ nominations will be opened after 24th October 2007. Voting will take place on 30th from 7 am and will close on 31st of October at 5 pm.

To all those who are thinking of putting forward a nomination, good luck!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Union extends special welcome to all sports fans

A comment left on this blog a few days ago claims Northern Ireland football fans faced "bigitory and discrimination" when attempting to enter the Student's Union to watch the game last Wedensday night.

However, rather than being a cause for concern or the beginning of another 'victimised students' campagin, the matter was dealt with in a matter of minutes and had no sinister undertones despite what some may think.

The Gown spoke to Union General manager Barney Hughes who cleared the matter up saying, "There was a break in communication between the security staff and their manager, the door policy had not been communicated and a small number of fans in Northern Ireland jerseys were subsequently turned away". The Union policy of years ago stated that football jerseys of any sort were not permitted to be worn inside the Union for fear of sectarian behaviour erupting as a result. Those days however are hopefully behind us.

Mr Hughes said that rather than discourage fans of any team from coming to the Union to watch a match and support their team the Union "extends a special welcome to Northern Ireland fans" in attempts to build links between themselves and the Union.

The mistake was rectified almost immediately and the rest of the night passed off without incident.