Archive for the 'Student Union/Politics' Category

URGENT: All who cycle in Camden: 19 June deadline for Huntley Street consultation

Apologies for the impossibly short notice but the London Cycling Campaign has just sent out the following action alert. I encourage all who cycle in the UCL/Bloomsbury area to respond immediately.

Deadline 19th June for letters and emails regarding a) Cycling contraflow in Huntley Street, Camden b) Cycle Hire docking station in Huntley St, Camden

We understand that both the proposal for a cycle contraflow in Huntley Street and the bike hire docking station in this street may be rejected because of resident objections. We understand there have been very few letters of support for either the contraflow for cycle users or the docking station. Many local cyclists will be unaware of this important consultation. We urge you to express your view immediately.

As you may be are aware local residents, and the many students, hospital staff and patients who use this street are currently forced to use the very busy Tottenham Court Road gyratory system to avoid the one way arrangement along a short (Torrington Place to University Street) but critical stretch of road. Huntley Street, as many people know, is directly linked to one of the busiest cycle routes in Britain – along Torrington Place. Making a small section of Huntley Street two way for cyclists will enable the many thousand of users of the busy cycle route to access University College Hospital and other buildings in this area without having to use the Tottenham Court Road gyratory system. Huntley Street itself has very little traffic and the northern stretch of the street is already two way for all vehicles – in terms of safety this contraflow is not problematic and it will only require minor works .

It would be most regrettable if a useful facility and a reduction in road danger to cyclists will be rejected when funding is available to carry out the necessary works. We understand the funding will be returned to TfL if the proposal is rejected.

The location of a cycle docking station in Huntley Street would be a great convenience for local residents as well as patients who wish to go to University College Hospital. It would unfortunate if this station were rejected. The contraflow in Huntley Street would make the short journey to the Torrington Place cycle route or UCL Hospital legal in both directions.

We understand that the council is consulting on the two matters separately in the same document. All local cyclists whether local residents, users of UCL Hospital. UCL students, Camden Cycling Campaign members, LCC members, CTC London members or any others are urged to write immediately to Dave Stewart, principal engineer, making their views clear on either or both proposals. The deadline is Saturday 19th of June. His email is dave.stewart {at} .

The consultation can be found at

What one cyclist wrote to Camden Council:

“Dear Dave Stewart ,
I would like to show my support for the measures outlined in the consultation on a) Cycling contraflow in Huntley Street, Camden b) Cycle Hire docking station in Huntley St, Camden.
I am a regular cyclist in the area and I would find these facilities very useful.

Yours sincerely,
Alix Stredwick”

In memorium: Sharine Brown

I was shocked to learn last week of the passing away of Ms Sharine Brown, lately Head of Residences at Imperial College, London. She had held that role for a number of years, including the duration of my tenure as President of Imperial College Union (2003-2005).

We did not always see eye to eye – particularly when negotiating annual rent reviews (I managed to get them held to 6% rises in both years when Sharine was angling up for upwards of 12%.) She was, nonetheless, a strong champion for quality and choice in student accommodation and a considerable asset to the College. Whilst many others focussed their attention on Imperial’s high-profile and grand building projects, Sharine quietly worked hard to ensure that the best use was made of the crumbling facilities, to benefit existing students, whilst they awaited redevelopment. I always recognised that no matter what problems arose halls at Imperial College were generally better run than those at any other London university. Her passing will be a great loss to student body and she will be deservedly missed.

A memorial service will be held at 16.00 on Tuesday 25 May to celebrate Sharine’s life in Holy Trinity Church, Prince Consort Road. RSVP: Mickie Turner-Goble.

Demise of languages and humanities teaching at Imperial College

Below is the full text of my letter to Felix, published 5 June 2009. (I would link to it but I think it was only published in their print edition.)

Dear Editor,

I was saddened to read in the Times Higher Education Supplement that Imperial is massively cutting back its provision of languages and humanities tuition.

The opportunity to broaden study options was one of the reasons I, and I’m sure many other IC students and alumni, chose to go to Imperial. Engineers and scientists at other universities tend to just get a handful of frankly boring management courses. As a practising engineer I can confirm that the wide opportunity to study languages and humanities produces more rounded graduates better equipped to fulfill the leadership roles required in today’s multi-disciplinary and multi-functional workplaces. It’s something I’ve always considered just as important as the wide range of student clubs, societies and sports.

Language tuition is also essential to widen students’ opportunities for a year abroad or overseas internship. Many of my friends at IC were able to pursue these. In every case it contributed much to their personal development. Most had not studied the language before university and would therefore have been excluded under the new plans.

Imperial’s provision is, I believe, unique for science students in the UK; but not amongst the Ivy League institutions that we now know the Rector is so keen to emulate. It’s perhaps worth noting that the condemned Roman History module was introduced at IC in 2005, in response to MIT announcing that it was their most popular option amongst their engineering students.

Perusing Felix online I was surprised to see a comment that languages are seen as a soft option. That might be true of a small number of students who cover up their existing language proficiency but it’s an extraordinary generalisation to make. I’m sure most students whose natural talent is in numerate, scientific disciplines find both language and essay-type subjects difficult and hard work. Certainly I found my French, Italian and political philosophy courses much harder than any engineering module. I know it’s been a couple of years since I graduated but we always used to consider the management courses as the noddy ones: does anone seriously think “accounting” is even in the same league as “fluid dynamics”?

I know protests have been planned. I hope IC students are able to reverse these plans and the College is able to find a way to keep humanities and languages alive.

Mustafa Arif
DoC / EEE 1999-2003
IC Union President 2003-2005

Go Andy Wilson for Swathling

Elect Andy WilsonAndy Wilson is standing for election, to Southampton City Council in Swaythling Ward. Good luck to him.

Andy was a fantastic two-term President at the Southampton University Students’ Union and all-round ‘good egg’. He is standing as the Labour Party candidate – if that puts you off please note that Andy is nevertheless a sound guy who I have always known to act in a constructive, non-partisan and conscientious manner. So, if you live in Swaythling, vote for him.

Full list of candidates for Southampton City Council elections, 2007 [Southern Daily Echo].