University

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Plush Lounge assault defendant pleads not guilty

A teen has denied assaulting Teddy Hall student Jeanne Marie Ryan last March.

Abdulrahman Abdelsalam, 19, of Edgeware, London, pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm at Oxford Magistrates’ Court last week. He was arrested in March. 

The charges relate to the attack on Jeanne Marie Ryan in popular nightclub, Plush Lounge, on 22nd March.

The attack on Ryan led to widespread attention on social media after she posted a “#nomakeupselfie” showing the injuries she received.

According to Ryan’s report, she was groped on the dancefloor and when she resisted she was punched in the face. Her assailant then knocked her to the ground and proceeded to hit her a further six times when she attempted to stand back up.

Ryan said she was assaulted “for telling a guy in a club who groped me that it is completely inappropriate to touch a woman without her consent, I was beaten. He told me to “Smile!”, too.”

Ryan told Cosmopolitan: “He seemed really angry that he hadn’t knocked me out straightaway.

“I was bleeding profusely and as he walked off, I was yelling at someone to stop him from getting away but he just walked out of the club.

“We had chosen to go there because it’s an LGBT club and we just wanted to dance with no hassle. Everyone who goes there thinks of it as a safe space – it’s great for dancing and not being bothered by guys.”

After the assault, Ryan set up a Just Giving account and raised £16,000 for the Oxford Rape and Crisis Centre.

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Oxford scientists trace HIV origin

Oxford University scientists have pinpointed the origin of the HIV strain that accounts for the current global pandemic as being Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The project, a report of which was published in the leading journal Science was a collaboration between scientists at Oxford and at the University of Leuven in Belgium traced the genetic history of the HIV group M strain which originated in approximately 1920 and was transmitted from a primate to a human.

The pandemic has infected over 75 million people worldwide to date. While the Kinshasa transmission was not the first case of human infection or transmission, it was the infection that was responsible for the spread of HIV throughout Africa, and later the world.

Professor Oliver Pybus of the University’s Department of Zoology stated “It seems a combination of factors in Kinshasa in the early 20th Century created a ‘perfect storm’ for the emergence of HIV, leading to a generalised epidemic with unstoppable momentum that unrolled across sub-Saharan Africa.”

Dr Nunio Fara also of the Department of Zoology described the virus’s progression across Africa, saying ‘Our genetic data tells us that HIV very quickly spread across the Democratic Republic of the Congo, travelling with people along railways and waterways to reach Mbuji-Mayi and Lubumbashi in the extreme South and Kisangani in the far North by the end of the 1930s and early 1950s.

“This helped establishing early secondary foci of HIV-1 transmission in regions that were well connected to southern and eastern African countries. We think it is likely that the social changes around the independence in 1960 saw the virus ‘break out’ from small groups of infected people to infect the wider population and eventually the world.’

The team stated that much more research needed to be done on the role played by social factors in the spread of the disease throughout Africa.

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UKIP condom controversy at freshers’ fair

The Oxford Young UKIP society has come under fire recently for its decision to distribute condoms bearing the slogan “Don’t waste an election” at the University Freshers’ Fair.

Whilst some regarded the slogan to be no more than a harmless pun, a number of students have expressed concerns that the slogan trivialises the issue of consent. Alice Nutting, the editor of Oxford-based feminist magazine Cuntry Living, responded:

“If we go with the idea that ‘election’ is an attempt at a witty pun on ‘erection’, they seem to be suggesting that not having sex when you’re horny is some sort of missed opportunity, which undermines the importance of obtaining enthusiastic consent. A far more appropriate message would have been ‘Got consent?’, especially given the high prevalence of sexual violence in this country.”

She also stated that such actions from UKIP were hardly surprising. Concerning the society more generally, she stated:

“UKIP seems far too focussed on scaremongering the public with immigration myths and making sexist gaffes, and not concerned enough about the real issues, such as protecting public services, prioritising welfare spending, and building more affordable housing. Their recent election success is sadly unsurprising, given the failure of the three main parties to properly address our national living standards crisis.”

Jack Duffin, Chairman of the Young Independence group linked with UKIP, was keen to defend the society’s actions. He wrote: “Youth pregnancy and STIs are on the rise, we are keen to address this issue rather than ignore it. It is ridiculous that the word election is instantly being linked to rape. Rape is a serious issue and people trying to belittle this with pathetic political point scoring is disgusting.”

Ian McDonald, also a member of the Young UKIP group, tweeted about the “positive response received at Oxford freshers” but made no mention of the distribution of condoms. He wrote: “Its [sic] been great sharing policies on how #UKIP can help young people.”

One Mansfield second-year student commented: “It is fairly clear that, given the endemic issues surrounding respect for women at UK universities at present, a slogan in which female sexual agency is totally ignored and imperative male action is championed represents UKIP’s anachronistic disregard for this fundamental problem in our society.”

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Colleges defend staff pay: living wage criticisms “wrong”

Colleges have hit back at a Living Wage Campaign report claiming that many colleges still do not pay the Living Wage of £7.65 an hour to all staff.

The Living Wage report accused some of Oxford’s richest colleges, such as St John’s, Magdalen and Christ Church, of “maintaining their wine cellars but not paying their staff enough to survive on”.

The report also noted that “not a single Oxford College has committed itself to becoming an accredited Living Wage employer. This would bind them to maintaining a Living Wage in keeping with the rising cost of living; something that they are currently not obliged to do”.

The living wage is considered the minimum amount required to maintain a decent standard of living, and is calculated according to the cost of living for a particular area. A representative for the Living Wage campaign told the OxStu that “since several of the poorest colleges, including Mansfield just last year, now pay a Living Wage, it is patently not the case that issuing a fair rate of pay is beyond the financial capability of richer Colleges”.

But several colleges have taken issue with the campaigns statistics, claiming they are wrong or misleading. When asked to comment on the Living Wage Campaign’s figures, New College responded that the claim it does not pay the living wage is “wrong – we DO pay ALL staff the Living Wage as a minimum.”

Brasenose college stated: “We can confirm that Brasenose does regard the living wage as important and pays all staff above the living wage, with the exception of one casual role for which only students in receipt of subsidised accommodation and meals are eligible to apply.”

The Bursar of Linacre College commented: “Except for students running the bar e.g we DO pay at least the Living Wage to all our staff” and Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, confirmed that they employed no permanent staff at below the living wage.

The Living Wage Campaign has now admitted that its report is out of date, stating: “The information gathered was that of 2013/14. We should have made that more clear. Our statistics were not based on students, and the FOIs sent out specifically targeted scouts, gardeners, kitchen staff, and porters. Our figure for Brasenose focused on their ‘base rate’.”

“Obviously if colleges are now paying the LW we are very happy about that and would like to celebrate it with them”.

The campaign claimed “we have no reason to misrepresent their wage rates”.

The University of Oxford last year confirmed it would pay the Living Wage to all its registered employees, and several colleges including Harris Manchester, St Catherine’s and Green Templeton pay a minimum that is significantly above the living wage.

never kissed a tory
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OULC accused of “inspiring misogynistic comments”

Former President of the University’s Conservative Association Jack Matthews has accused his Labour counterparts of “inspiring misogynistic comments”.

Writing on Twitter, Matthews’ accusation concerned a set of stickers distributed by the Oxford University Labour Club stall at last week’s fresher’s fair, which displayed the slogan ‘Never Kissed a Tory’.

Matthews claimed that the stickers prompted some students to direct comments such as “Sorry love, never kissed a Tory” at female officers running the OUCA stall. These comments reportedly made his friend feel ‘extremely uncomfortable’.

Matthews tweeted the OULC account, asking “Have you given up on One Nation Labour with your ‘Never Kissed a Tory’ stickers – theyre (sic) inspiring misogynistic comments”.

Matthews, a postgraduate student in Earth Sciences, declined our request for further comment.

The claim of misogyny prompted angry responses from senior OULC figures. Former co-chair Helena Dollimore used Twitter to describe Matthews’ claim as ‘absurd’ and ‘offensive’. Dollimore, a third year history and politics student also involved in Young Labour UK, went on to criticise OUCA’s feminist record, asking Matthews ‘does OUCA have a women’s officer yet?’.

Dollimore supported an OULC measure passed in June of this year to split its members into two electoral colleges, with 50% of voting power given to those who do not identify as men.

OULC declined our request for further comment.

Former OUSU Women’s Officer Sarah Pine also defended the slogan, claiming that Matthews was wrongly focusing on the stickers rather than the male students who had made the comments originally, writing on Twitter: ‘We’re saying man involved is at fault’.

History student and NUS representative James Elliot intervened in the heated discussion, writing: ‘Think Tory councils closing rape crisis centres does more to harm to women (sic) than stickers’.

Matthews served as OUCA President in Hilary of 2014, making student headlines when he condemned the NUS as intolerant of right-wing opinions.

The slogan ‘Never Kissed a Tory’ is used by LGBT Labour across the country on stickers, t-shirts and banners since its introduction in 2008.

The Values behind Market Capitalism - Tony Blair
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Sabs clash over Tony Blair LGBTQ accolade

OUSU VP for Welfare Chris Pike has slammed ex-OUSU President Tom Rutland for ‘erasing’ trans and disabled voices in a debate over Tony Blair’s gay rights legacy.

Chris Pike, OUSU’s VP (Welfare and Equal Opportunities) and Tom Rutland, last year’s OUSU President, engaged in a heated discussion on Facebook following a disagreement in the No Heterox** group, with Rutland dismissing Pike’s arguments as “complete bollocks”.

Pike hit back, suggesting that Rutland could only speak for “middle-class white able cis gay men” and not the entire LGBTQ movement.

The dispute centred on the listing of former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair as “top gay icon of the last 30 years” by Gay Times. Blair featured on a list of ‘gay icons’ from the past three decades including Boy George and Sir Ian McKellan, in honour of the pro-LGBTQ rights policies pursued by his government, including the introduction of civil partnerships and the repeal of Section 28.

When posted on No Heterox**, a popular discussion group for Oxford’s queer and trans community, the decision drew ridicule, with OU LGBTQ Society Publicity Rep Jessy Parker Humphreys labelling it “so so so infuriating/ridiculous”. Rutland, a prominent former member of the Oxford University Labour Club, waded in to the discussion to defend Blair’s legacy on gay rights.

When Helena Dollimore, an active member of OULC and Vice Chair Policy for Young Labour, posted an infographic on Rutland’s wall which listed advances in gay rights under Blair’s government, Pike argued that “the actions of Blair on the whole were not conducive to queer liberation,” while also stating that he was “quite uncomfortable with the fact that this was originally posted by someone who isn’t queer”.

The political debate soon became personal, with Rutland telling Pike to “stop bashing Helena” and that “if it makes you uncomfortable you need a much better cushion on your chair”.

When contacted by The OxStu, Tony Blair’s office declined to comment.

The Oxford Student

Oxford's Newspaper since 1991