Student news round-up: Oxford Union, Swansea office furniture and the importance of not being Nick Clegg

The stories you missed this week

Click to follow
The Independent Online

1. AC Grayling criticises campaign against Oxford Union president Ben Sullivan

The fallout from the arrest of the Oxford Union's president on rape allegations continued this week as several prominent speakers, including the secretary general of Interpol and the president of Human Rights Watch, withdrew from planned appearances at the society.

But AC Grayling, the philosopher, has criticised the campaign against the Union and its president, Ben Sullivan, who has not been charged and denies the allegations. In a letter to Sarah Pine, the Oxford University Student Union women's officer who is leading the protest, Grayling said he sympathised with her motivations but explained: "I simply cannot, in all conscience, allow myself to act only on the basis of allegations and suspicions, or of conviction by the kangaroo court of opinion, or trial by press – the means too often employed even in our own society to condemn before the evidence and the arguments have been properly examined."

2. Miliband: "The most important thing to do is to not be Nick Clegg"

Ed Miliband visited the University of Nottingham on Tuesday to speak about university education, youth engagement in politics, and Labour policies ahead of the European and local elections.

In an interview with student magazine Impact, Miliband, who has pledged to reduce tuition fees to £6,000, spoke of his concerns about the "marketisation of education" and explained why he thinks young people should be able to vote from 16 provided they are properly educated about politics.

Earlier, during a public Q&A, Miliband told the audience that "it is not right that people should start their lives in tens of thousands of pounds in debt" and remarked that "the most important thing to do in regards to tuition fees is to not be Nick Clegg - in other words making promises you can't keep". He said it would be difficult to reduce fee prices for students already paying £9,000, however.

3. Student anger as Swansea spends £3k on office furniture

In Swansea, the School of Management has been criticised for spending £3,277.55 to furnish the dean's office - including a sofa costing £2,220 and £498 for a glass whiteboard.

The costs were revealed through an Freedom of Information request by The Waterfront, which also reported that Management students at Swansea are no longer assigned individual dissertation tutors but instead have to meet in groups of 20. Many students expressed their discontent with the spending, with one student union officer calling it "an absolute mockery of the university and its principles". Swansea University had not responded.

4. Woman from Kent Union posters that "legitimised rape" speaks out

The woman featured in the Kent University Union summer ball posters that appeared to promote rape has come forward and criticised "rape culture" and the Union's "faux-pology".

Kate Wilson, 22, told The Tab Kent that she thought her picture was going to being used as part of a rape awareness campaign. Instead, the poster showed her standing alone in a car park leaning against a column, with the words "Someone will lose their friends #loveitKent".

Wilson said she was confused about how the poster had passed a review process. "This went through stages of creation and nobody looked at it and thought this might make women feel unsafe. That no one in the production team saw this speaks to rape culture, because people don’t appreciate the threat of rape to women."

She also expressed her disappointment with the Student Union's response: "The thing that rubbed people the wrong way – me included – was when they issued a statement and it was a faux-pology. It was a 'we're sorry that we offended people' and obviously that, in and of itself, isn’t an apology. It’s not saying 'sorry for what we did.'"

5. Mumps epidemic at Oxford

More than 15 students at Brasenose College, Oxford have been diagnosed with mumps over the past week, with 10 cases still described as "live". 

The patients have all either gone home or been quarantined in the college. Those remaining have been confined to their bedroom and a toilet on their floor, and are being provided with free hot meals each day. One student told The Oxford Student: "Life in quarantine is less frustrating than I imagined – room service, Skype and Netflix are keeping me in good spirits."