I personally would be happy to print a half decent article explaining why you believe us to be inconsistent, scruffy. i'd also probably want to write a response article, as these are obviously issues that we have all discussed at amzing length, and i tihnk our current position and set-up can be justified. write the article - we'll respond. that's what debate's all about right?
Posted: Thu Feb 09, 2006 1:39 pm Post subject: Re: priceless
I really have to take issue with the claim that a free press is achieved by having a committee decide what does into it.
The Radish has never claimed to be a free press. While the people involved haven't nailed down a constitution just yet (debates are still raging), the concept of a completely free press was considered and rejected as unachievable right at the start.
The Radish is not an established forum for airing of views, but appears to be dressed up as it.
Well, how does one go about becoming established if not by getting material out into the public domain?
Where are 'our' general meetings to discuss 'our' issues and wrest control from the GHCR from pro-moon cup to anti-moon cup?
If you want a printed forum to air your own personal (anti-Mooncup?) views, feel free to start your own publication. As stated in the Articles forum, the people involved in The Radish will help you in any way they can. _________________ We cannot choose what we are. Yet what are we, but the sum of our choices?
From spending a lot of time in the basement I'm very aware of the scathing remarks and general lack of positivity towards the Radish by many members of our Guild Exec and some choice members staff. Understandable?? Depends on how one views criticism, and it seems that one member of the Guild Exec aka Scruffy is attempting, through various techniques, to discredit the Radish (I won't mention who you are if you want to continue to remain annonomous).
We are what we are, a collection of people who put in alot of work and money to making this happen. We are not a free press!! We are adding to a student community that should have a proliferation of papers, journals and zines that create a culture of free press. Please don't stop making posts, it all adds to the debate. [/i]
Why are the Guild so anti-Radish? And for that matter, why are the Guild so vehemently opposed to anyone who attempts to create something different, something vibrant for students to enjoy. I spent three years at Birmingham University, and frankly, my experiences of the Guild, and the people in charge of the guild, were shit. And I don't use that term lightly.
Universities, and especially student unions, should be vibrant places - not the soulless hell hole that Birmingham University is saddled with. There is so much potential for the Guild to be a centre for activism, a centre for debate, a centre for cultural education - but instead we get Richard Angell, James Antony and a succession of Blair-alike career politicians, determined to crush anything that is 'different', or dynamic.
It is incredible that it has taken this long for The Radish (or any alternative press to appear) at Birmingham University, considering how culturally starved this establishment is. I only wish I was still at University and could fully enjoy and take part in this burgeoning cultural movement.
The guild are quite clearly scared by The Radish and its ilk - it doesn't take a forensic scientist to work out from Scruffy's posts that he is member of Guild exec intent on sabotaging the good work of the Radish. The question must be asked - why? Surely a student union should be embracing such a publication, not looking at ways that it can undermine it and destablise it.
Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2006 10:26 am Post subject: six of one...
I have no qualms at all about people knowing who I am, or indeed all of my views. I am, I would hope, honest about what I believe and how/why I come to know things. I am a member of the Guild Exec who has engaged with debates on this forum in a friendly and open way, but have taken issue with the fact that a bastion of free speech (which is apparently different from a free press) is proclaimed, but then a newsletter full of letters to an distant editor is admitted. I love the Radish. I disagree with a lot of whats written but I think that is what you wanted - a debate.
I must disagree with one thing that John raises though. The Guild and the Radish are as guilty as one another about not trusting the other and using unfair rhetoric in attacks about each others motives, ambitions and history. Just in this post, we can see things like 'soulless hell'. I know that thousands of people joing socities and volunteering projects every year, and do it for all the time they are at Uni. Why do these people come back if not for the vibrance that the student experience offers? Why do we (and I mean here people like Richard Angell and myself that sit on Society Recognition Committee) vote to have a Respect Society on campus if we want to stifle debate.
I don't want to fly in the face of public opinion, but the Guild Exec and Guild staff work very hard to make student life better. If it isn't representing what you want, why are you engaging in cyber m**tur**t, pleasuring yourselves writing and posting for the Radish and not trying to make the Guild into the utopia you want it to be?
The 'Diabolical misuse of power' article exemplifies this for me. That article was a noble attempt to raise the issue about manipulation of Freshers by private businesses but because the author isn't at the level where he knows what the actual situation is, he made a lot of mistakes in it. I criticised the article, in a cynical and Angellesque attempt to overmine the Radish, and that feedback was taken on well. We even exchanged private messages and the author requested meeting up to discuss how we could make sure that the article could be re-written, and really address the issues and badguys that keep the circle going.
I was really hopeful that we could attack the cynicism of Freshers. I don't really think that this is a sign that I want to destroy and undermine the Radish, that I am 'intent on sabotage'. I think Paul is COMPLETELY off the mark. I want it to be better and to carry on being better. Don't we all?
And that changed when I said that I was on the Guild Exec. The texts/emails stopped. The chance of having an informed and honest debate on campus was lost because of politics. I feel, and I may be wrong, that because the truth wouldn't have been able to sabotage the Guild's reputation a little bit more, the Radish didn't want to know. Is this is turn a stifling of debate, and an author being 'scared of the Guild'. Course it isn't - so we should all stop spinning this as a guerilla activity against the mob. That is the Blairite stance in this whole deabte.
(The opportunity to write that article is still there by the way).
Stop thinking that the lack of positivity and love is a Guild hatred of anything new. It isn't. I think we have a a mutual distrust which we must overcome. I love and embrace new things and I hope that the Radish goes for many years. The fact that I want the Radish to be sustainable past this year, and a responsible, vibrant (cos we do seem to like using that word) and accountable addition to the student community doesn't mean I want it all burned. We are all grown ups and writing about our student union this way moves us all further away from the objective you claim you want.
I do think you need to be aware of the responsibilities of just throwing opinions into the air, but keep on trying to make the perfect system. Many people better than us have tried for years to do that and one more attempt won't hurt.
Please though, lets all recognise ourselves for the hipocrites we are and start engaing with each other. The Guild and the Radish is not an either/or. The minute that we can work together to write that article about a responsible Freshers, I will know that this is a serious player. But the decision to undermine and discredit the truth and student activism there wasn't mine.
A HUGE post, but I hope it helps. I'm not negative at all, but really want a mature debate, not a fortnightly pamphlet.
(The reason, by the way, that I'm not putting my name on this is because I can't speak for the Guild cos I'm not that bloke. Move the debate on kids - there is a very sensible reason why I'm using a psuedonym and you could have thought that out instead of making me out to be a mole. This isn't a confessional and there really isn't an obligation to post all my details in order to engage with the debate. You're making this far too cloak-and-dagger and making this culture of cynicism worse in doing so.) _________________ "the hardest thing to do in politics is nothing"
President of the Guild of Students
My impression is that you want the Radish to be a sensible publication which aims to deal with important and perhaps contraversial issues in a truthful manner which does not border on sensationalism, a la tabloids. Accurate???
You point out that you want it to be responsible and accountable. Firstly in what way responsible?? Evidently, from the articles I have read, the radish wants to tackle contentious and potentially inflammatory topics as well as offering original, often overlooked, slants on international, domestic and university/guild issues.. Is this irresponsible or just different. The banner heading of the most recent Radish was 'Things are not Black and White', seemingly a claim to try and stimulate more intelligent and critical thinking (not tabloidesque); furthermore it seems (I don't know because Iím not directly involved) that great lengths are taken to try and make articles accurate as well as insightful (i.e. Retraction of John's freshers week article and the reply to the Sharon article in this weeks Radish). Seems fairly responsible to me....
Secondly, who should it be accountable to??? The Guild, would this not lead to exec editorial control as seen in Redbrick. Last term me and Vlad wrote an article about the cancellation of FOOTAid, generally focussing on the reasons why it couldn't go ahead, some of which were guild related others of which were not. The article was cleared by the editing and proofreading people of Redbrick but then was significantly changed before going to print. What was taken out was a ludicrous guild policy that we had flared up and had subsequently changed the whole tone of the article.
What would be the point in the Radish if it became an extension of Redbrick?
Or should be accountable to the students... I thought this was the case already hence this website. Additionally if people didn't like it the could choose not to read it or read it, think its rubbish and throw it in the bin..
I sense the Radish wants to escape and critique these structures of power that Redbrick and the exec work under. I have never seen anything in print that reflects critically on the internal workings of the Guild. Why is this; why should it just be accepted. I would hope that Scruffy and his friends/associates would want to try and do this rather than implicitly or explicitly perpetuating, uncritcally, what is already their.
The message I get from the Radish when it talks about all things Guild related issues is the idea that SO MUCH MORE IS POSSIBLE, their are no reasons other that tradition, lack of imagination and a lack of balls (red tape no doubt as well but surely not insurmountable) that the guild could be so much better.
I realise there are factors at work, in the guild, university etc... which perhaps makes such change difficult to achieve. All I can say is that in my three and a half years at Birmingham the Guild (excluding the basement): in terms of nightlife, food, cultural activity, creativity, ambition etc etc has changed very little.. This is crap and I support the Radish wholeheartedly if it points that out.
I would also like to respond to scruffy. His was an interesting and thoughtful reply, it was good to get his view point.
I take issue with a few comments that he wrote and i think that he has done certain people some injustice and that he is mistaken in the aims of the radish. (May i stress here that i can only talk about what i think the radish's aims are, or what my aims for the radish are. There is nothing the radish itself is or that it thinks. Its a group of individuals).
The aim of this website is to give a forum for the kind of debate that this conversation is an example. This is a forum where everything can be scrutinised. The guild is no different.
The printed radish is a newspaper written by students at the university of birmingham and so it is likely that alot of the issues that affect those students will be related to the guild. The guild should be scrutinised, it is our after all and we want to make sure we get our money's worth.
The impression i get is that you would like us to engage with the guild of students on its own level, in the same way you engage with it. However this doesn't seem possible. Angell and co. appear to sit in an ivory tour where the systems they oversea are untouchable. The average student sees no way of changing things, of interacting or of criticising. The guild structure seems stricken with beaurocracy (apologies for spelling, that's the second time today i've struggled with that word) and it is stifling much of the creative student population.
The guild does alot of good work. Student societies is an area where our guild leads the way. Involve is wonderful, and today i have been defending the merits of The Ark. However VIT?? Awful. Almost nobody wants that. One big friday and Fab and Fresh may as well be Broad street. There is nothing wrong with cheesy nightclubs necessarily but in our guild surely we should have something different.
My plea to our guild is: Embrace the radish, embrace accountability, denounce beaurocracy (thrid time) and denounce the rut. _________________ Supposing truth is a woman, what then?
Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2006 6:22 pm Post subject: Re: six of one...
If it isn't representing what you want, why are you engaging in cyber m**tur**t, pleasuring yourselves writing and posting for the Radish and not trying to make the Guild into the utopia you want it to be?
If you honestly think that this whole project was set up for our own self indulgence, then I for one feel that you are completely missing the point.
In my opinion, the radish exists because it is needed if the guild is to be anything remotely close to a "utopia".
What would you suggest, that we all become redbrick journalists, guild council members, or join the elections commitee? Are these the only ways that we can improve the guild?
My point is that, for me, the radish exists because there are a large amount of creative, resourceful, talented and idealistic people at this university who are completely marginalised and bewildered by the guild's hierarchical structures, beaurocracy and it's risk assessment and "financial viability" paranoia. You know full well that if the exec want something to happen (the NBS ban), guild democracy wont make a bit of difference.
THE ONLY THING THAT CAN CHANGE THE GUILD IS STUDENT ENGAGEMENT. This means debating the guild's decisions and challenging the structures that members of the guild executive so often hide behind. If the guild as an organisation is not held to account in this way, then it will continue to be a sorry excuse for student representation.
The guild is as much ours as it is yours. You (the guild exec) have an immense amount of power and responsibility, but we have an equal stake in "our" guild. By engaging in this forum, hopefully we can reclaim our stake and hold you to greater account than your structures will allow.
If you really care about the student community, then you should welcome the radish. (I think that maybe you do, but i'm really not sure!)
The majority of our 27,000 student population are disenfranchised with the guild (organisation not exec) for very good reasons, and I think that the exec need to stop defending itself and start to look at the reasons why.
That said, fair play to you for getting involved with the website!
Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2006 9:57 am Post subject: Re: six of one...
If you really care about the student community, then you should welcome the radish. (I think that maybe you do, but i'm really not sure!)
I thought Scruffy's post was excellent. However, it seems that most people have chosen to nitpick over what he's said and insist on further criticism rather than focusing on the admirable things he says. This quote is just one example of that. Did the following quote from Scruffy not show you that he's fully welcoming of the Radish:
I love the Radish... I love and embrace new things and I hope that the Radish goes for many years.
Maybe it's time to take a little of what a member of the dreaded Guild Exec said rather than merely pick holes in some of the perceived weaknesses in his post. _________________ 'Men make their own history, but not of their own free will; not under circumstances they themselves have chosen'
- Marx, 1852
Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2006 7:12 pm Post subject: awww
I'd like to thank Dear Prudence for what was actually a nice message about me . Haven't seen many of those.
I just want to repeat that I love independent student action. Love it. I would hope that you can see that on other threads. Although, clearly, I'm a possessor of minority opinons on some issues, I like that we talk about them.
I just really want the Radish to up its game. You could be fantastic but the word that currently comes to mind, and please take this constructively, is 'wannabe'. I hope you can become better but I am really concerned that after the novelty wears off, people won't be that excited about reading the personal opinions of about 20 unsatisfied people. Its like reading a diary, not a paper and I would love to help you, but I fear that this is where the problem comes. Most of the complaints in the Radish is that the Exec are stifling student opnion, yet here I am, supporting you. When are we going to get the reciprocal support?
I wanted to speak about Vlads post too, which was very good. I was glad that he highlighted, in one sentence, my whole issue.
THE ONLY THING THAT CAN CHANGE THE GUILD IS STUDENT ENGAGEMENT.
Very true. So why aren't you? Of COURSE Elections Commitee isn't the only way to get involved, but the Radish is currently making disengagement into an almost Zenlike level of attainment. Not with the issues - I have loved the excited debates we've been having - but with the change. What is the point in hating something, wanting to change it, and then thinking that the best way to achieve that is an effectual boycott. I don't like boycotts - they don't work. Engaging with the beast is the only way to tame it. There is bugger all use in talking about taming it, planning to tame it, deciding why you want to tame it, showing films about taming it, but then choosing NOT to tame it because you are that annoyed at it. I have no doubt that some people on this forum may run in the Exec elections (which is a beautiful irony in itself) but why didn't you do that years ago? In other posts, there were more or less unvieled allusions to the fact that the forum think that my year on Exec has produced nothing. Fair point. I strongly disagree, but then I would. But why in the name of God do you raise it here, where I am under no obligation to answer, read or think about it? Have you come to GC and attacked me? Even written me ONE email? Come to one of my drop in sessions? No? Then, with all due respect, how dare you expect me to have done what you wanted. To quote Sir Humphrey (a link some people might find some irony in) 'One is not a mind reader, is one?
THE ONLY THING THAT CAN CHANGE THE GUILD IS STUDENT ENGAGEMENT? I suggest you start. It is probably fairly obvious that I intend to run for President. One of my key issues is making students lead the Guild. Doubt my ability if you like, but not my integrity. I do actually work hard for students and if you want me to work harder or differently, then for f**k sake tell me properly instead of posting here.
Hope that is OK, I got a bit ranty there, I hope you can see the sentiment. _________________ "the hardest thing to do in politics is nothing"
President of the Guild of Students
As the only guild execrepresentative that many of us know about to post on this website scruffy seems to feel that all criticism of the guild exec is directed at him. I'm pretty sure he's mistaken. He is part of a group which i for one think could have 'thought outside the box' considerably more than it has, but he is only one of this group.
Scruffy still makes the mistake of referring to the radish as though were some united group plotting in some way to annoy the guild exec.
1st, in the 3 printed radishes there's hardly any criticism of the exec.
2nd, we're a group with mixed opinions. We want to voice our opinions in print because we want people to think about the issues we talk about.
The printed radish is not an anti-guild mouthpiece, it's an alternative newspaper.
Encouraging people to question the guild exec's decisions is good. If you're doing that good a job people will disagree with us.
If you don't think people will continue to read our paper because it's just a bunch of our opinions about stuff then fair do's. I guess we'll see.
i wonder why any problems we have shouldn't be aired here (a free forum). Why shouldn't anyone with a particular grievance or opinion raise it here and give anyone who wants to reply the opportunity to do so. My point is that on this website you have the opportunity to tell anyone who reads it what you think and if your critics are wrong, why they're wrong. This is as much a platform for you as it is for anyone.
Finally, do not confuse this forum with the printed Radish. Whilst there has been some criticism of the guild here by certain individuals (to which you have responded and to which absolutely anyone can respond) the printed Radish hasn't really had that much bad press for you in it.
(when i said finally i obviously didnt mean it) I take on board your criticism that some people who have had problems with the guild have not done enough about it. (however i know plenty of people who have directly attempted to change but failed. You'll ask me for examples, when i have more time i promise i'll post them here) I for one am trying now rectify this error. This website is doing something. It gives anyone an opportunity to talk about how uni could be. It gives you all an opportunity to see what people are thinking (hopefully it will grow and grow and you will have the opportunity to see the views of a broader spectrum). The printed radish is doing something. We have written articles about issues that we feel passionate about and that we want people to read. we want people to think about things and question things and so we've set up two tools to help them do it.
DO NOT imply that the radish is purely an anti-guild organ. We have no agenda other than to get people talking.
i will spell that out; to me, as one individual involved in the radish, the radish should be encouraging people to question things and think about things. It should encourage debate. To my mind it is doing that. So when you say people involved in the radish should actually do something, i for one think they are. the radish, for me, is achieving what i want it to achieve.
This really is my last point. Just by writing a disclaimer before an insult it does not take away the insulting part of it.
The radish will continue. It will grow. It will change. I think it will continue to attempt to hold everyone to account, hopefully as constructively as possible.
I think the Guild Exec may still be attrbuting opinions and aims to The Radish that none of us have ever purported to hold. The printed version of the Radish is supposed to spark debate and encourage critical engagement with the world around us. I think all of us have found that people have been really enthusiastic. I'm not entirely convinced that Scruffy has actually read a copy - as Jimmy says there has been almost no direct criticism of the guild - it seems scruffy may be basing all his opinions of the paper on the seemingly widespread assumption that all of us hate the guild, without having any evidence for this.
Amongst the people who have been involved with the Radish so far, the majority are involved in guild societies, many run societies, many volunteer with Involve groups. to say that we are boycotting the guild is nonsense. and yes, a number of us are intending to run for guild exec - which scruffy refers to as a 'beautiful irony' - why is it ironic? scruffy asks why we didn't do it years ago - for the simple, and one may have thought obvious, reason that we weren't at uni years ago. we have now come to the time when we could fundamentally change the things that we dont like about the guild, which we can only achieve by being centrally involved. i'm sure scruffy will be a worthy candidate, but i for one will not be voting for him.