Rob Hallam

Newsletter 2015-02-17: SCOTTISH STUDENT CONFERENCE AND SPB THIS WEEKEND!

Hey gang!

We’re getting very close to two very exciting events, both happening this coming Saturday (21st). The first, during the day is the Scottish Student Conference. It’s kicking off with registration at 10 for an 11 AM start, and we have more information and a programme to follow. That very same evening we’ve got the just as exciting, multi-award-winning Secret Policeman’s Ball. Doors will be opening at 7 PM for the night of comedy; but if you can’t join us for that you can still come along for the wonderful afterparty from 11 PM.

Tuesday 17th February 2015: Intro to Sri Lanka

5PM, Boyd Orr Lecture Theatre 222, Boyd Orr Building

Please note the change of venue- this week we are over in the Boyd Orr!

Although we are moving on to our Sri Lanka campaign that we collectively chose, we aren’t leaving Transgender Rights behind completely (not that any campaign is quite left behind completely!). We will be compiling the questions the groups came up with last week into survey mentioned, which we hope to collaborate with LGBTQ+ on.

For the intro to our Sri Lanka campaign, we will be watching Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished (assuming we can get 4oD to cooperate!). It’s not an easy watch and can be disturbing at times.

Thursday 19th February 2015: Bake Sale & SPB Promo

Thursday, Outside the QMU

Calling all bakers! Have your rolling pins ready for our bake sale this week. Because of the dual nature of sales and promotion of this one, we could really use all hands on deck. The more tasty treats we have, I reckon the more likely will feel inclined to come along to the Secret Policeman’s Ball. We have a baking doodle, which is to indicate if you can make something for the stall– not necessarily to be there selling on the day! So, doo the doodle: http://doodle.com/74r7cc7mudgsqahs#table.

There will also be a Doodle for those equally-awesome folks who are able to come along on the day to sell and promote the SPB, so keep an eye on our Facebook page and group for that. Anyone who is able to help out by baking or selling or both will have a special place in my heart!

Saturday 21st February 2015: Scottish Student Conference & Secret Policeman’s Ball

The time is upon us at last! Months in the planning. Lots of dedicated volunteers making them happen. Anticipation is high. It’s going to be a great weekend folks, I hope you’re all ready.

First up, we have:

Scottish Student Conference @ QMU

11-4, Committee Rooms, QMU

We’re kicking things off with registration from 10 AM on Saturday morning. After that we’ll have opening statements, followed by a plenary on Scotland’s Role on the World Stage. Thereafter we have a workshop on Forming a Partnership with AIUK’s Scottish office, which will deal with how we work with both the Scottish office and other student groups. After lunch we will have a plenary on El Salvador’s Ban on Abortion, which will be an excellent talk in view of International Women’s Week coming up at the start of March. Our next workshop will be on Campaigning and Funraising, where groups can share their experiences of what works well (and what doesn’t!) on campus. After that we will have closing remarks, and then on to the SPB!

Skip the lie-in and come along on Saturday morning as it promises to be an informative day!

Secret Policeman’s Ball @ QUDOS

Doors 7 PM

Our wonderful SPB! I’m so looking forward to this.

I’ll let the event page do the talking:

GU Amnesty International’s multi-award winning comedy night, ‘The Secret Policeman’s Ball‘ is back for its 7th year and is as big as ever. Hosted by the fantastic Billy Kirkwood and featuring a line-up of stand up, sketch and a little bit of magic that is sure to have you in stitches. This will be followed by afterparty, hosted yet again by the ever-rising Philanthrobeats but this time featuring some other top talent to take you through til 2!

Line-up includes:

  • The Colour Ham – an ingenious and quite frankly absurd group of comics that are the latest big name on the UK comedy scene.
  • Gareth Waugh – an Edinburgh Festival regular known for his quick witted and self-depreciating sets is definitely one to look out for in the future
  • JD Brown – Winner of this years ‘Vespbar Virgins’ ‘Best New Comedy Act’, and being touted for bigger things!
  • Also featuring Daisy Earl, Gary Faulds and G.L.A.S.S. (Glasgow Laughter and Sketch Society).

Super exciting! If you haven’t already, you can buy your tickets online for a discount from the on-the-door fee.

SPB Afterparty @ JIM’S BAR

Doors 11 PM

What’s a Secret Policeman’s Ball without a Secret Policeman’s Ball’s Afterparty? Well, we have one!

Featuring the stylings of Janneman (from Philanthrobeats), Anphu & Bata and Wuh Oh. We’ll see you at 11!

Whew, what a weekend! See you on Saturday!

Opportunity with Scottish Refugee Council – Closes Tomorrow!

As I mentioned at last week’s meeting, we’ve had a note in from the [Scottish Refugee Council]((http://www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk) about volunteering opportunities. These guys do some excellent work, and the chance to work with them in a voluntary role would be most rewarding.

There are six roles available in total and all the details can be found here: http://w.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.ukww/what_you_can_do/volunteer/roles

Two of the roles we would particularly like to emphasis are the Fundraising Events and Administration volunteer which involves undertaking a range of tasks, from filing and administration to events organisation and representing the organisation to potential supporters and members. The other role is Community Celebrations Volunteer and this role will provide administrative, marketing and organisational assistance in supporting the Community Celebrations programme and the participating community groups.

Detailed descriptions of both roles can be found here http://www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk/what_you_can_do/volunteer/roles/fundraising_events_and_administration_volunteer and here http://www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk/what_you_can_do/volunteer/roles/community_celebrations_volunteer. Details of how to apply and application forms can also be found on our website.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 18 February, 2015 at 5pm. We are also holding a Volunteer Open Evening at our Glasgow office on Thursday 5 February, 2015 at 4:30-6:30pm. Come and meet our friendly team, and let us answer all your questions about volunteering at Scottish Refugee Council.

Quite an opportunity here, but the deadline is tomorrow, so get your skates on. If you’re not sure about it, get in touch with our VP Duncan McNab, who works there!

Photos From Last Week’s Meeting

You can see the full album here.

Thanks too to everyone who took part in our Trans Rights are Human Rights (#translivesmatter) photo petition.

Thanks For Reading

This week’s bonus is the only one that’s appropriate- photos from last year’s SPB!

And of course the afterparty!

You can find more (including photos from previous years) on our Facebook 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.

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