Rob Hallam

Newsletter 2015-02-02: Transgender Rights and Things of Note

Welcome to February! Semester 2 marches on very quickly…

Last week was Syria Week, and I’d like to thanks everyone who was involved in the organisation, running and who attended events during the week. A big well done to the individuals, and to Oxfam, GRASS, Unicef, Red Cross and the Catholic Society. It just shows that by working together we can achieve great things- but we knew that anyway! For those who missed the events, there are photos later on in the newsletter ????

We’ll be cracking on with our chosen campaigns in the next few weeks. First up is Transgender Rights, with Alex and Seb kicking things off with a presentation to introduce us all to the subject.

We’re firing on with organising the SPB and Scottish Student Conference – thanks to those who volunteered for these; if you haven’t yet and would like to please get in touch as your help for either would be much appreciated.

Tuesday 2nd February: Transgender Rights

5PM, QMU Committee Room 1

trangender_flag_photo

We are back in our usual meeting place this week!

Here’s a preview of what’s coming on Tuesday evening:

This Tuesday will see us kick off our first mobdro free download campaign of the semester – Transgender Rights!

Transgender persons find themselves on the receiving end of discrimination and rights abuses regularly throughout the world.

In this introduction to the campaign we will have a presentation from Alex and Seb outlining the historical and current situations and we will be showing a couple of video case studies.

After we will be engaging in some letter writing and a photo action. Plenty to get your teeth into!

5pm, Committee Room 1, QMU. See you there!!

Thanks to Joe for writing up that spiel! Here’s the Facebook event. Please join and invite!

Special notice: please bring along any empty plastic bottles you may have as they will be used for decorations – like they were for Jamnesty – at the SPB. Thank you!

CFCI Update!

GU CFCI Banner

Exciting news- the working group set up by the university senate is meeting with the Coalition for a Conflict Free Glasgow University is meeting representatives from the CFCI on Wednesday 11th February. Finally getting some progress!

SPB Update

Saturday 21st February 2015, Qudos @ QMU

We have posters and fliers!

SPB 2015 Flyer Face

They are looking totes fabby- well done again to Kaitlyn! If you fancy helping Mobdro Online TV distribute these things and earn the eternal gratitude of Joe, Duncan and myself that would be most appreciated- let us know!

Please get inviting to the Facebook event!
Doooo iiitttttt

Online Actions and Info

I thought I’d share some things that have come up in the last week or so which you might be interested in if you haven’t already seen them.

Greater Maryhill Food Bank Theft

I’m sure you all remember Julie Webster from our Food Banks campaign at the end of last semester. Regrettably, there appears to have been a theft of a significant amount of food vouchers (for service users) and money (raised for the family of a young hit-and-run victim). I’ll let Julie tell it in her own words:

That someone or some people could being themselves to steal from the most needy, from those having trouble feeding themselves, and from the family of an injured child is sickening.

Please keep an eye on the GMFB’s Facebook page and if you can, help them out. Julie did us a big favour by taking time out of her incredibly busy schedule to come and chat to us just before Christmas, and you were very generous in the food donations we sent to them; let’s dig deep and show her what difference students can make. Thank you.

(more info from BBC News)

Call for Pardon for Convicted Gay Men

You may have seen in the news the call for the government to pardon 49,000 men who were prosecuted for being gay. From the petition:

Pardon all of the estimated 49,000 men who, like Alan Turing, were convicted of consenting same-sex relations under the British “gross indecency” law (only repealed in 2003), and also all the other men convicted under other UK anti-gay laws.

Each of these 49,000 men deserves the justice and acknowledgement from the British government that this intolerant law brought not only unwarranted shame, but horrific physical and mental damage and lost years of wrongful imprisonment to these men. Alan Turing was pardoned in 2013, but the other estimated 49,000 men deserve the same.

Have a look at the petition and give it a sign.

Syria Week Photos!

Thanks to everyone who took or posed for photos at all the events last week!

Red Cross Info Tent (Monday)

Thanks to Red Cross for putting this on! More photos

Journey to Safety: A Syrian Perspective (Tuesday)

Big thanks to Kit and GRASS and everyone who helped out putting on the very informative event! You can see more photos.

Documentary Screening (Wednesday)

Fundraising Ceilidh (Friday)

A big well done to Oxfam and everyone who helped out. Huge thanks as well to Spootiskerry for playing for us! Everyone seemed to have a great time, as you can see from the photos.

Fundraising Pub Quiz (Sunday)

It may have been a cold night at the end of a long week, but well done to those who made it and answered the fiendishly tricky questions! See the rest of the photos here.

Thanks for Reading

This section is no stranger to cutesy things. And this week I present my sister’s kid’s rabbits:

Rabbits in a loop

Rabbits!

Animated GIF of rabbits eating

“Foooood!”

Once again, d’awww….

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Rob Hallam

Newsletter 2015-01-12: Welcome Back and SPB Launch!


Welcome to 2015!

I hope everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable holiday period and a great new year! I also hope everyone is looking forward to the second semester as much as I am. We had a great first half of the year, and the second will be even better! I’m really proud of everything we’ve achieved so far and I know we can achieve even more. Let’s make it happen in 2015.

Due to a couple of unfortunate computer mishaps I’ve lost progress in writing this newsletter, so tho first edition will be a succinct account of what’s on this week; with a bigger, better edition to follow next week. Thanks for your patience, and on with the show.

First Meeting: Tuesday 13th January 2015 – SPB Preview!

Tuesday 13th January 2015 5PM, Williams Room, John MacIntyre Building

spblaunch2

I’m very excited to inform you that this week we have a real treat: the Secret Policeman’s Ball preview. This will be held in the Williams Room of the John MacIntyre Building, which is right at the main gates. You can find the room on the left at the top of the stairs if you enter from the doors on University Avenue. If you enter from the other side of the building you can find the stairs at the back, along the corridor and the vending machines. Any questions, just get in touch and we’ll help you out.

Billy Kirkwood is coming along to show us all the high standards of comedy we have at the SPB (check out the photos from last year) so you can get an idea of what to expect. Duncan and Joe will be there to tell us all about it too.

So bring along your friends and flatmates on Tuesday to see what comedic treats we’re in for in February! Join the Facebook event and invite folks along too!

Collaboration Event: Ebola Awareness Evening

‘The Face Behind the Symptoms’ – Thursday 15th January 5PM, John MacIntyre Building Room 208

stopebola2

In collaboration with Oxfam, we would like to being to your attention The Face Behind the Symptoms, and ebola awareness event presented by Hannah Davies (who is just back from Sierra Leone) this Thursday at 5 PM in the John MacIntyre Building, in Room 208. Since the outbreak in west Africa in March 2014, there have been over 17 000 reported cases of ebola, and over 6 000 deaths. This makes it the worst ebola outbreak since the first known ones in 1976; and in fact worse than all other outbreaks combined.

Come along to learn more about what is happening, the people affected, and what you can do to help.

Here’s the Facebook event, please come along to what promises to be a very informative event.

Coalition for a Conflict-Free Glasgow University Screens ‘Blood in the Mobile’

Monday 19th January 2015, Venue TBC

bloodinthemobile2

We’ve previously screened Blood in the Mobile ourselves. It’s a compelling look at the conflict mineral mining operations in the DR Congo; you’ll never look at a phone, tablet or camera the same again. The Coalition for a Conflict-Free Glasgow University (who hosted a recent conference) are planning on screening this powerful film again this Monday; we’re going along to watch it because as difficult as it is to see these things, it’s an important film.

Keep your eyes on their Facebook pageor ours! – for more details.

Thanks for Reading

With the awful events taking place this week it’s ever more important that we speak out for human right- freedom of speech and expression is fundamental. With that in mind, I will let the following images say more than I ever could:

charliehebdo2
charliehebdo
charliehebdo3

#JeSuisCharlie

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Rob Hallam

Newsletter 2014-10-31: Pub Quiz Success, Human Trafficking and Updates


Boo!

November is nearly upon us- where did October go? It’s practically Christmas already…

This week’s newsletter is coming to you all slightly early as I and other dignified delegates are London-bound for the Amnesty International Student Conference 2014! We’ll come back informed, motivated and excited (even moreso) about all things Amnesty.

Let me start by thanking everyone who came along to the Pub Quiz- although one team scored the most points*, in my view you are all winners for having braved the howling wind and rain on Sunday to come and support one of our fundraising nights. Pat yourselves on the back. Of course I’d also like to thank Joe and Seb for doing an excellent job of hosting, all the people who wrote questions, ran last-minute printer dashes, brought decorations along, helped mark, took photos, and everything else which helped the night run smoothly. And another well done to Joe for coordinating it all! Early tallies look like we raised over £200, so it was a very successful night!

  • I was later informed that the winning team re-gifted their winnings! You guys are the coolest; and I’ll sign papers to that effect!

I’d also like to extend our gratitude to Dr Marco Goldoni for kindly coming along to give us that very informative talk. I found the issues and conundrums raised fascinating and useful for framing future discussion around the role of the law in relation to race and human rights.

Lastly for this intro, I’d like to say congratulations to Ruth over at the Coalition for a Conflict Free Glasgow University (GU CFCI) for putting on an excellent conference. The speakers were very informative, with a broad base of the subject being covered. It seemed to inspire the folks who were there on Wednesday, and roll on the next Senate meeting! We will continue to support the CFCI, but if anyone is interested in working on that directly, get in touch with the group via their Facebook page and Ruth will get you involved.

This Week: Human Trafficking

Tuesday 4th November, 5PM QMU Committee Room 1

Human trafficking

This week we’ll be looking at Human Trafficking, our next chosen campaign for the first semester. We are trying to confirm another guest speaker for Tuesday, and we may also have a film clip to show you.

It’ll be another exciting meeting for our second campaign of the year (as chosen by YOU)!

Jamnesty Tickets On Sale Now!

Wednesday 26th November, 7PM, Stereo, Renfield Lane

Jamnesty 2014 Banner

I’m delighted to announce that tickets for Jamnesty next month are now available online. It will be a fab night of music and DJing for £5 (£4 without afterparty) which is a damn good price per hour of entertainment.

With music to blow you away from Chrissy Barnacle, Hannah Jackson, The Van T’s, Harry & the Hendersons, and Sunshine Social; and featuring DJing ’til 3 from Flore De Hoog, Heavy Daze, and DJ Hushpuppy.

Join the Facebook event and invite your friends. It’s going to be a big one – get booking now!

Reminder: SPB Poster Competition

Friday 31st October

Just a reminder that this week is the deadline for submitting entries to the SPB poster competition. The details are in a previous newsletter which you can find on our website.

The deadline is 31st October 2014 and the grand prize is two tickets to this year’s SPB. Plus the whole bunch of kudos and exposure of having your design plastered around the West End and online. We’ve had a couple of entries already, so get cracking! (If you can’t quite make it for Friday, send them in over the weekend and we’ll still consider them).

Please send your entries to spb@guamnesty.org.uk; and good luck to all entrants!

Syrian Refugee Week Update

26th Jan – 1st February 2015

Just a quick update on a meeting that the coalition held for the Syrian Week that’s being held at the start of next year. We are in the process of firming up events; the hope is that in collaboration with the other societies involved to have one each day. It’s very exciting to have other societies onboard and keen to organise things too- the collaborative spirit! The events that have been suggested so far include:

  • An introductory lecture
  • A workshop on the asylum seeking process in the UK that Syrian refugees would face
  • Documentary screening and Q&A
  • Panel discussion
  • Fundraising ceilidh
  • Pub quiz!

There may be more events added to this list as more societies get involved. We heard that the SRC are happy to endorse this as an official week of events, which is great news!

Thanks to Oxfam, GRASS, Unicef, GU Catholics Society and CFCI for coming along and getting stuff planned; and to Alex for chairing the meeting!

Submission to Smith Commission

Friday 31st October 5PM 2014

Smith Commission

We’re doing a short-but-important submission for the Smith Commission, as I mentioned at the meeting this past Tuesday. While we want to stay away from any thorny political issues; but given the Rights Referendum campaign that went on during the indyref we felt this was a huge opportunity to reinforce the call for and importance of human rights as part of any settlement process.

Update: We have submitted our recommendations, which I attach a copy of here.

GUAmnesty-SubmissiontoSmithComission

We would encourage individual members to read others submissions and make their own voice heard, which can be done through the Commission’s website. Let us know if you submit anything!

Online Petition: Urge DoJ Action on Lethal Force

Apropos of the work we’ve been doing on Ferguson, including all the great letter-writing everyone did, we thought it would be worthwhile to do an online action to follow this up as well. From Amnesty USA:

The ongoing protests in Ferguson Missouri have ignited a national conversation about the persistent and widespread pattern of racially discriminatory treatment by police across the United States, including unjustified stops and searches, ill treatment and excessive, and sometimes lethal, use of force.

The U.S. government must do more to ensure policing practices nationwide are brought into line with international human rights standards, including the use of lethal force, and to address systemic racial discrimination. The Department of Justice has failed to collect accurate, comprehensive national data on police use of force, including the numbers of people killed or injured through police shootings or other types of force.

Go ahead and sign the petition now.

Thanks to Sarah for pointing the petition out!

Reclaim the Night March

Thursday 27th November 2014, Starting at Botanic Gardens 6:15PM

Reclaim the Night 2013 (Crop)

This is a month away but it’s worth getting on everyone’s radar now, which is code for “I hope you enjoy being reminded about this for the next four newsletters”.

This year’s march will take place on Thursday 27th November (that’s the day after Jamnesty!) with assembly at 6:15 PM outside Botanic Gardens on Great Western Road (opposite Oran Mor).

I’ll give more details closer to the time, and we’ll be looking for folks to come along and carry banners or candles. It’s a fairly short march but it always has a good atmosphere, so whether you’ve been before or not come along!

You can see photos from last year’s march which we took part in after a Tuesday meeting.

More Photo Updates

In case you missed it, the pub quiz photos were published from last week.

Because of the talk by Dr Goldoni on Tuesday and the group work afterwards I only managed to take one photo on Tuesday!

The photos from the Conflict in the Congo conference hosted by GU CFCI will go up on their Facebook page soon, but in the meantime please enjoy one sample below!

Pub Quiz
Meeting 6
Conflict in the Congo Conference

Thanks for Reading

This week’s bonus comes to us courtesy of the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies / University of Wisconsin-Madison, where one of the many visualisations they produce is a composite total-precipitable water graph:

Map of world showing total precipitable water

(click for bigger version)

Now ain’t that real purdy? You can see more on the MIMIC-TPW page.

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Rob Hallam

Newsletter 2014-10-19: Ferguson, PUB QUIZ THIS SUNDAY and some Reminders

Hello again! With the passing of another week I would like to thank everyone who tended the shop while I was away in the south. You all kept things running smoothly! I’d also like to say thank you to everyone who came along to the screening of In Prison My Whole Life and to the debate with the Dialectics where we got some more photos for our #notodeathpenalty campaign. If you missed Bex’s writeup on the documentary it’s well worth a read, and it ties in nicely to what we’ll be doing in the week ahead.

All in all given how well the week went, I may have to go away more often…

This Week: Ferguson

Tuesday 14th October, 5PM, QMU Committee Room 1

Ferguson protest in the street

From the death penalty we move on to our first choice of campaign for this year: Ferguson. This is the first time that we’ve covered something of this nature happening in the US, so it’s new ground for novel campaigning ideas!

Announcing: GU Amnesty’s Pub Quiz!

Sunday 26th October 2014, Jim’s Bar, 8PM

Pub quiz 2013 team

So you think you know your stuff? It’s that time of year again: time for another GU Amnesty Pub Quiz! Join us on Sunday 26th October (this coming Sunday, a week today) in Jim’s bar for several rounds of delightful brain-teasing questions. Entrance is £3 (thinking of the Raise-off already!) and there will be some great prizes to be won. So get those thinking caps on!

Click ‘going’ on the Facebook event page, you know you want to! And invite your friends too- the more people that go the higher the pot!

You can also have a look at the photos from last year’s Pub Quiz which should show what a great time we had.

SPB Poster Competition

Accepting entries now!

Do you think you heave what it takes to win an award from an award-winning show? If you have some creative flair and a knack for digital artistry you mays be interested in participating in our very own poster competition!

The competition has run for the last couple of years and produced some great results:

2013 Poster2014 Poster

…And yours could take their place amongst them! The details we need are:

GU Amnesty International
Date :February 21st
Title :The Secret Policeman’s Ball
Hosted by Billy Kirkwood
The Venue : Qudos, Queen Margaret Union
Price: £6 for comedy only £8 with afterparty in Jim’s Bar (£7/9 O.T.D.)
Doors: at 7.30pm

If it’s a format that translates well between large poster (A3) and flyer (A5) sizes so much the better, even if the two versions are slightly different.

The deadline is 31st October 2014 and the grand prize is two tickets to this year’s SPB. Plus the whole bunch of kudos and exposure of having your design plastered around the West End and online.

Please send your entries to spb@guamnesty.org.uk; and good luck to all entrants!

More info can be found in the Facebook event.

AIUK Student Conference – Reminder and Motions

November 1-2 2014, London (deadline for motions is Monday 23rd October)

Student conference

I’ll be reminding you again about the student conference (see below) but first we had a message in from Rachel Statham, the Scottish STAN rep about making policy proposals at the student conference:

The Student Conference AGM is the opportunity for students to have their say, and resolutions can be passed on pretty much any aspect of Amnesty policy, provided that the action you call for is to ask the STAN Committee to do something. For example previous resolutions have asked that the STAN Committee not fly within the UK (exempting Northern Ireland) when travelling to meetings, and have asked us to raise particular issues with the AIUK Board.

This is a brilliant chance for every student activist to engage in the governance of Amnesty, as you can also ask us to help facilitate bringing a motion to National AGM, on a campaign you would like to see Amnesty UK doing. Last year this is exactly what happened when a motion brought forward requesting a focus on Human Rights Abuses in Guatemala, was passed at the AGM in Edinburgh. This motion, stemming from a proposal from a student group at the student AGM, and is now a formal AIUK Campaign.

The deadline for submitting resolutions is Midday on 23rd October, so it’s very soon. Please consider bringing forward a motion, and engaging with the AGM. Don’t hesitate to contact us, by email or facebook, for any advice or more information.

Governance and policy are really important areas to get right, and it’s vital we all are able to have a say in how Amnesty International (and STAN, in this case) conducts its business. Please get in touch very soon if you have something you would like raised or would like more info on the process.

Don’t forget to register on the student conference page! Although the registration fee costs £20, we can apply to the SRC for a reimbursement on that so keep those receipts! There are workshops, campaign actions, discussions, socialising and much more. Let’s not forget we have an award to pick up for last year’s Secret Policeman’s Ball! Please let me know if you are interested in coming and we can try to make travel plans for the group.

Jamnesty Update: Venue confirmed!

Wednesday 26th November 2014

Thanks to the efforts of Domi, Joe and Milia we have confirmed Stereo as a venue for Jamnesty on 26th November. This will be an excellent place to host the great music we’ll be hearing over the course of the night and is a significant expansion over our previous venue of The Halt.

It should be a great night! Keep your eyes peeled for further announcements closer to the time.

Sleep Out Reminder!

Friday 24th October 2014

Last reminder this week I promise!

The annual sleep-out returns! GU Amnesty has long been involved in these and they’re a really good way to raise both money and awareness. Basically the idea is to meet up with sleep gear (bags/mats/etc), hang out for a bit in the evening to chat and listen to the music and/or theatre sketch (latter TBC!).

Unfortunately it looks like it won’t be possible to use the Wellington Church as a venue this year, which is a shame as it was almost ideal! The venue is still TBC at time of writing.

Update: Kit has confirmed that the sleep out will be held in the cloisters as he was able to secure permission for it to be held there.

The SurveyMonkey poll for the charity to be fundraised for in the sleep-out is here.

Thanks for Reading

This week’s newsletter had a generous portion of reminders of upcoming events and things of note. But sometimes they’re necessary (I do try and keep the newsletter short and also mark reminders clearly!); and some don’t mind them:

A pair of seagulls from Port Issac

Including this couple from Port Issac.

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Just don’t say ‘less reminders’, please!

Rob Hallam

Newsletter 2014-10-12: Election Results, Upcoming Events and CFCI Update!

Another week has flown in! Congratulations to our three new committee members:

  • Fundraising Officer Joe Clerke
  • Ordinary Board Sarah Bacom
  • Ordinary Board Seb Hammani

And my deep regrets to those who stood but were not elected- please don’t be too disheartened, we definitely still very much want and appreciate your input over the coming months! The main AGM will take place in the second semester for those interested in standing then. I hope you will be just as keen!

Thanks to everyone who helped making the banners for the death penalty demo on Friday; and my apologies for the confusion over the crafting session- due to issues with room bookings we decided to use the banners we already had plus the two that were made on Tuesday. A big well done especially to those who braved the intermittent showers to get all the #notodeathpenalty photos on Friday!

If all the death penalty campaigning has piqued your interest and you have ideas or want to get involved give us an email at campaigns@guamnesty.org.uk.

Tuesday 14th October: Film Screening of In Prison My Whole Life

5PM, Boyd Orr Building Room 222

In Prison My Whole Life

Please note the venue! We’re over in the Boyd Orr Building for the meeting this Tuesday. We’ll be watching the film In Prison My Whole Life, which we saw the trailer for last week. If you missed it, you can see it here:

(link for those reading in email: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7K3pdnsWmM)

The film deals with the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted in July 1982 of killing a police officer. The title comes from the day in December 1981 of Abu-Jamal’s arrest- the day Will Francome (creator of the documentary) was born. We’re lucky to have Will Francome joining us via teleconference after the screening too. It should be a very good watch! More information and join the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/721239527960240/.

Wednesday 15th October: Death Penalty Debate with Dialectics

6PM, Boyd Orr Building

Rounding off our look at the death penalty (for the time being) will be this debate conducted by the Dialectics society. Join us for a discussion of how the death penalty is used internationally in what promises to be a very informative look at some of the issues surrounding extrajudicial killings, war crimes and mob justice.

Get more info and join the event on Facebook!

Reminder: AIUK Student Conference

November 1-2 2014, London

Student conference

Another quick reminder about the student conference coming up soon. We’ve got a few folks confirmed as going, so do get in touch if you want to come along! It’s a two-day dive into what Amnesty International is all about: campaigns, actions… and meeting and socialising with other groups!

Although the registration fee costs £20, we can apply to the SRC for a reimbursement on that so keep those receipts! There are workshops, campaign actions, discussions, socialising and much more. Let’s not forget we have an award to pick up for last year’s Secret Policeman’s Ball! Please let me know if you are interested in coming and we can try to make travel plans for the group.

Places go quickly so don’t delay! More information and booking link are available on the student conference page; if you are travelling down please let me know and we can book something all together!

GU GRASS Info

GRASS header

Since there was interest in GRASS last week after Kit filled us in on some upcoming events (Thanks Kit!) I thought it would be worthwhile to give a few more details for those that might be interested in what’s happening and the great work that they do.

So first of all, from their about page:

At Glasgow University, we use our position as a university society to help asylum seekers and refugees in the best ways we can. As Glasgow is a distribution centre for refugees, a strong network of support for arriving refugees and asylum seekers in Glasgow is really important. GRASS began in 1999 and has been working to improve the lives of refugees ever since.

You can find them on Facebook and their website is pretty informative for things like past and current projects. Also on Facebook is the event page for their Pub Quiz which Kit also mentioned.

Sleep-Out: Friday 24th October 2014

The annual sleep-out returns! GU Amnesty has long been involved in these and they’re a really good way to raise both money and awareness. Basically the idea is to meet up with sleep gear (bags/mats/etc), hang out for a bit in the evening to chat and listen to the music and/or theatre sketch (latter TBC!). Unfortunately it looks like it won’t be possible to use the Wellington Church as a venue this year, which is a shame as it was almost ideal! Despite this it will be going ahead in a couple of weeks, so dig out the sleeping bag and get sponsored!

The SurveyMonkey poll for the charity to be fundraised for in the sleep-out is here.

Jamnesty Update

Domi and Milia have been working hard to get things sorted out for Jamnesty in November, which is already shaping up to be a fantastic night! We’ve a number of options for venues, and the line up of acts is looking good. If you want to get involved there’s still time, just email jamnesty@guamnesty.org.uk.

SPB Update

As mentioned last week the SPB organisation is truly getting underway. Billy is totally on board with the plans and also wants to make this year bigger and better than ever!

Duncan will be organising another meeting of the SPB subcommittee this week – likely to be Monday afternoon – for those coming on-board (such as those who signed up on Tuesday- thanks to you guys!), so keep an eye on Facebook for the details on that. If you want to be involved, either get in touch via FB or email spb@guamnesty.org.uk.

CFCI News!

CFCI banner

The Conflict-Free Campus Initiative has been a campaign GU Amnesty has been at the heart of for over two years. Briefly, it aims to change University purchasing policy to favour electronic items (PCs, laptops, tablets etc) which are produced in a ‘conflict free’ way. This means that, for example, the minerals such as gold, tin, tantalum and so forth are extracted and traded in a way that doesn’t result in millions of deaths. You can read more about the background of the CFCI, conflict minerals and what’s being asked asking for in our petition or the other information we have on it.

The CFCI is now an inter-society coalition, much like the fossil fuel divestment group was. And much like the fossil fuel divestment group had a very good result result in the uni senate recently so did the CFCI! The senate agreed to set up a working group (much like it did previously with the fossil fuels group) to examine the case for implementing the CFCI proposals. It’s a big step on the road, but there’s still a ways to go. On that note:

Wednesday 29th October: Conference

‘Conflict in the Congo: Responses from the International Community’

4-6PM, Senate Room, Main Building, University of Glasgow

With several interesting speakers, this conference co-hosted by CFCI Glasgow, GHRN and Global Security Network is a great opportunity to find out in a bit more detail what has been going on in the Congo and what the response has been.

The event will be free and open to everyone, including all students and staff at the University, members of the Glasgow Human Rights Network and the Global Security Network, and anyone outwith the University who may be interested. The hope is that this event will provide an education to those who have little or no understanding of the on-going conflict in the DRC, as well as giving people from campaigning/academic backgrounds with a focus on the DRC or human rights and conflicts the opportunity to engage with a range of speakers who can discuss various aspects of international interventions.

It looks really great and I know that Ruth has put a lot of work into organising the event, so I would strongly recommend gong if you’re free at 4 on Wednesday 29th! You can always check out the CFCI Facebook page for more info and updates.

Glasgow West Comedy Night

Wednesday 22nd October, 7:30 PM, The Stand Woodlands Road, £7

Our friends at the wonderful Glasgow West Amnesty group are putting on their annual comedy night, which is coming up on the 22nd of October. I’ve been to these before and it’s a great laugh!

More info is available on the event listing page, and you might want to check out Glasgow West’s page as well.

Closing

This week the newsletter comes to you from Sandridge Barton, near Stoke Gabriel in Devon. Reflecting those environs, I will leave you simply with a photo facing down to the River Dart. Enjoy.

View down to River Dart
(Click for bigger size)

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Rob Hallam

Newsletter 2014-09-28: Campaigns Decisions, IOC Success and More

Hello everyone! I hope you all enjoyed the first week of term and the Freshers’ Flu is beginning to wear off. There’s a lot of exciting things that have been happening, are happening and will be happening, so read on!

Welcome to All Our New Members

Meeting 1

I’d like to start by saying thanks to everyone for coming along last week. It was great to see such a big crowd! It’s even more exciting that so many of the people I spoke to had specific areas or ideas that they were interested in. But whether you have a burning passion for a particular area, a general desire to help out or even if you weren’t able to make the first meeting it’s great to have you on board and there will be plenty going on to capture your imagination. I hope you all enjoy the ride.

It sounds like there was some good discussion too; and I’d like to say thanks to everyone who took part in the CFCI action. We’ll be sending off the photos along with the signatures when the petition goes off to court for consideration next month.

If you weren’t able to make it, no worries- feel free to have a look at the presentation for last week’s meeting (warning: speakers notes in the PDF may bear no relation to what I actually said) and do join us at 5PM this Tuesday!

This Week’s Meeting: Campaign Decisions

Tuesday 30th September, QMU Committee Room 1

This week we are going to be deciding what campaigns we want to prioritise. I’ve said before that collective decisions are a really important part of the group, and campaigns are a good example of this.

Campaigns are central to our work, they form the core of what we do. It’s important that members feel invested in what we’re focusing on, and that they are subjects that people are interested in – although I’m sure everyone would be interested in any human rights campaign!

So we all get an equal vote in the campaigns. If there are issues that you feel passionately about – from chatting to folk last week it seemed like a few were – it would be great if you shared your thoughts with us on Tuesday when we talk about the different options in groups.

Elections for Ordinary Board

Tuesday 7th October, QMU Committee Room 1

Remember remember, the… seventh of October. A week on Tuesday we’ll be holding elections for the position of two ordinary board members. This is a committee role which will really let you get your hands on organising things behind the scenes at GU Amnesty.

All you need to do in advance is have a short speech in mind; anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute to tell us who you are, what you do and why you think you should get the position. We’re all friendly so don’t stress about speaking to us! Even if you are not elected onto the committee there may be other roles which would pique your interested, so don’t be disheartened- we’d still love to have your input 🙂

Campaign Success: LGBT Rights and the IOC

Olympic Rings

This week we got word that the IOC had updated its position on discrimination, which is excellent news! We’re proud to have played a part in this. From our hugely successful cross-union LGBT rights photo campaign to the pressure we also put on the Olympic sponsor Coca-cola in our poster which was part of our officially-supported and rather impressive Change.org petition, we stood up for these human rights.

It’s important to keep these victories in mind when choosing the campaigns this Tuesday and in the weeks beyond; we can make a difference. Never forget that 🙂

Raise Off Success

Last week I mentioned the Raise-Off, the UK student group competition to funraise and campaign for AIUK. Well, although Exeter won the prize for raising the most money overall – congratulations to them – once again our Secret Policeman’s Ball won the award for Best Fundraising Event! I’ve now lost count of the number of awards it’s won. It is a true reflection of the hard work and organisation put in by the SPB subcommittee, headed up by our VP Debbie White last year, the members and Billy Kirkwood. The night just wouldn’t happen otherwise- which would be a shame as it’s a damn fine event.

If you’re interested in getting involved this year, either contact us or mention it to me or Duncan or any of the rest of the committee at the meeting this week. We’ll get a group together and have a chat about what we’re going to do this year, and you can find out if it’s for you!

Congratulations to everyone who was involved in the SPB last year, you all deserve this award 🙂

Coalition for Syrian Refugees Update

Last week GU Amnesty and representatives from other groups (Oxfam, STAR (now GRASS), UNICEF) met to update and plan what we can do to raise funds for and awareness of the difficult situation that Syrian Refugees find themselves in. We have made tentative plans for a ‘Syrian Week’ of informational and fundraising events early in the second semester (January 26th – February 1st).

We plan to meet again, and so if you are interested in what is going on in Syria and/or would like to be involved please contact us and let us know so that we can get you up-to-speed and added to the Facebook group.

Because of the (understatement alert) complex nature of the situation in Syria, the coalition intends to remain apolitical; one of the main areas of focus for GU Amnesty last year was the human rights situation and this continues to be the case. If you have any questions or concerns relating to CSR, please do get in touch and we’ll try and clarify.

Other Events and Information

Academics at Risk

Monday 6th October, 3-6PM, Glasgow University Concert Hall

There is an event which may be of interest put on by GU Settlement to inform people about the work of CARA:

The University of Glasgow, with assistance from GU Settlement, is hosting a CARA (The Council for At-Risk Academics) awareness raising event.

The Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) has provided protection and support to refugee and ‘at risk’ academics for over 80 years. The defence of academic freedom continues to underpin CARA’s work assisting academics who, for reasons of persecution and conflict, are unable to continue their research in their countries of origin.

The event will be chaired by Prof John Briggs (Vice Principal and GU Refugee Champion) and Prof Alison Phipps (GU CARA Rep/ GRAMNet).

A representative from GU Archives will discuss the historical role that the University has played in supporting dispossessed and displaced people and there will also be the opportunity for round table and informal discussion.

Cinema ho! GU Amnesty Goes to see Pride

Not an event as such but given our group interests, some of us were thinking going along to see the Film Pride at Cineworld on Thursday evening. It comes highly-regarded, so it should be a good trip and a chance for another informal social. Grab a bag of popcorn and come along.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/566709056790636/

Pride cinema trip!

Get in Touch

Prince Rupert's Drops

This newsletter’s ‘I read all the way though’ reward is a cool thing that came up in conversation this week: a Prince Rupert’s Drop. This are drops of glass with a thick end and a thin end: hammer on the thick end and you won’t do a thing. Snap a tiny bit of the thin end off and the glass explodes. I’ll let the video do the rest of the talking:

(link for those reading in email form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xe-f4gokRBs#t=122)

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Rob Hallam

GU Amnesty Supports a Conflict-Free Campus – Photos

Thanks to everyone who took part-  fingers crossed for the motion when it goes to court soon!

 

Ellen MacAskill

Update: Call For a Conflict-Free Glasgow

On Friday 14th, four of us from the committee attended a meeting with David Newall, Secretary of Court for the University, and Jo Gallagher, Head of Procurement. As Ruth has pointed out it was frustratingly similar to the meeting she had with him on the subject this time last year. I took notes throughout the meeting and thought it would be worth updating you all on what happened. From here we can plan our next steps so that the new committee can continue the fight into the next academic year.

Unfortunately it seemed that Gallagher had not been fully briefed on the campaign at hand; not realising that it only focussed on the procurement of technology. She emphasised that the university does not take full responsibility for the sourcing of materials. Instead this goes through a framework of guidelines decided by the umbrella group APUC. This is governed by EU regulations. She said that she would enquire whether the APUC currently have a system of due diligence and corporate responsibility.

Newall’s two issues seemed to be as follows: that the university must not discriminate unfairly against companies or breach contractual obligations in its procurement policy; and that the university cannot make political statements as an institution. His excuse for unresponsiveness was that conflict minerals are “not important enough” from the university’s perspective.

He justified the political undertones of GU’s divestment from the tobacco industry by saying that it should promote healthy living and that extensive research here goes into the prevention of cancer. This is indisputable. More closely linked to CFCI is the movement calling for the divestment of fossil fuels. The issue is yet to be brought to university court. It struck us that this campaign is being viewed in terms of ethical and sustainable development – as should CFCI. (Personally I find it difficult to see why the university is comfortable to tacitly support genocide via its consumerism, but uncomfortable with making a political statement against it.)

Both Newall and Gallagher iterated implicitly that a top-down approach is the only way to push the university towards change. Clearly they feel out of their depth discussing Congo. It is understandable to want to avoid making bold statements which they are unable to follow up with action. However, Ruth requested that Newall send on an official response explaining why the university is not participating in the movement.

We discussed the progress that support for Congo has made worldwide in the last year. More companies, including Apple, are investigating their supply chains and recognising the conflict. The EU will vote on bringing in guidance for responsible companies relating to conflict minerals later this year*. The success that certain campuses in the USA have seen was mentioned, but dismissed as being allowed under very different systems of policy and procurement.

To close the meeting Ruth handed over the petition, which has been circulated on campus and collected over 400 signatures.

Newall pushed the importance of the SRC’s support as he thinks that having the issue taken to court is the first feasible step. Since the meeting we have discovered that the motion which was sent to the SRC was not in fact passed, as we had believed. This accounts for the lack of movement from them and will hopefully be rectified soon.

Breffni O’Connor, the new SRC president, is enthusiastic to help us get the motion passed at the next council meeting in April. In an email she said: “[The meeting] is also the last of the year. So it will need to be passed at this one. I think the best way to do it is to send us the motion but also to prepare a presentation to our council. It was done this was by Climate Action and I think it went down a lot better, if there’s no presentation people might not concentrate in full. And our council will fire you lots of questions, these discussions usually last a while.”

There is also talk of forming an inter-society coalition. This has been very effective for other events and campaigns, such as the Coalition for Syrian Refugees which Amnesty took part in earlier this year. Many NGOs and charities on campus are likely to be interested in supporting us. This will hopefully start up in the next academic year, as at the moment many societies are having AGMs and changing their committees. The increase in exposure that CFCI would get from broadening its audience in Glasgow is vital to progress.

To sign the petition, or read the motion in full, click here: www.guamnesty.org.uk/2013/02/petition-for-a-conflict-free-glasgow/

If you missed my last blog summarising the campaign, read it here: http://www.guamnesty.org.uk/2014/02/call-for-a-conflict-free-glasgow/

*Draft legislation proposed by the European Commission on 5th March 2014 http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2014/march/tradoc_152227.pdf

Ellen MacAskill

Call for a Conflict Free Glasgow

The Conflict Free Campus Initiative has been growing up gradually at Glasgow University since GU Amnesty International took on the campaign in 2012. So why are so many people still in the dark about the bloodshed that fuels our technology habit?

CFCI calls for regulation of minerals used by large Western technology manufacturers, bought from mines in the war-ridden Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa. The war there has dominated the country’s landscape since the early 1990s. The International Rescue Committee estimated that 5.4 million fatalities have occurred as a result since 1996. Rape is used as a weapon of control over the population and children are involved in fighting from a young age. The statistics are staggering for a conflict which receives such little media coverage. We rely on these countries for minerals such as gold, tungsten, tantalum, and the ores that produce tin. Armed rebels groups, domestic and foreign, pillage the land’s natural resources then sell them on to large corporations.

A lack of transparency in the production line means that consumers of products such as phones and laptops remain ignorant.

At university we spend millions of pounds cumulatively on technology. By sourcing products from companies that check and regulate their supply chain, we can encourage other companies to do the same. But no one is asking Glasgow’s library to send its computers to the dump. CFCI calls for university policy to prioritise the increasing number of companies who have expressed concern over the matter, when buying products from now on. Intel and HP are leaders in this field and just recently Apple have resolved to investigate their supply chain for conflict-related atrocities.

GUAI started circulating a petition last year to David Newall, Secretary of Court, and Principal Anton Muscatelli, calling on them to make Glasgow conflict free. A motion has been passed through the SRC in support of the movement, however their power is limited and progress has been slow. To raise awareness of the campaign a video was filmed by members, with help from Green MSP Patrick Harvie.

A letter-writing action to Newall last semester has prompted another meeting to be planned with him and Jo Gallagher, Head of Procurement for the university. We are preparing for this opportunity to give the campaign the attention it deserves.

In March, in collaboration with the charity Earth Movies, we will be screening ‘Blood in the Mobile’. The documentary directed by Frank Piasecki Poulsen investigates the relation of mobile phone companies to the conflict in Congo. Following the screening will be a panel discussion, with speakers to be confirmed, plus a Q & A session. The joint publicity between GUAI and Earth Movies will reach out the event to a wide audience.

In February our members partook in the global #CongoPeace photo campaign. This social media campaign is designed to show our support for the women of Congo. The images will be collected and presented in a book to Special Envoys at a UN conference focussing on resource exploitation and sexual violence.

To give the Conflict Free Glasgow campaign a boost before the imminent meeting, we will be submitting informative articles to campus press such as the Glasgow Guardian newspaper.

Let’s make Glasgow a Conflict Free Campus!

http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org/content/initiatives/conflict-minerals

Rob Hallam

BBC News – Gold market breaches ‘covered up’ (Newsnight Whistleblower Report)

A timely article given the latter part of today’s meeting on the front page of BBC News as part of a Newsnight report on conflict minerals failings in Dubai:

BBC News – Gold market breaches 'covered up'.

Dubai’s biggest gold refiner committed serious breaches of the rules designed to stop gold mined in conflict zones from entering the global supply chain, a whistleblower has revealed.

The article gives a good level of backgroun info as well as reporting on the Dubai situation. That someone had to resign and blow the whistle on the auditing practices goes to show quis custodiet ipsos custodes applies as much to the conflict mineral supply chain. There needs to be vigilance and pressure at all levels.