In defence of the “live below the line” campaign

Originally published in the Glasgow Guardian

As I write this article, representatives of the four student bodies are coming to the end of the Live Below the Line challenge. For five days, participants have lived below the poverty line, spending no more than £1 a day, with the aim of raising money for the Glasgow north west food bank and raising awareness of the struggle of those living in poverty in our city. However, the challenge has not been beyond criticism. Of course, this is true of virtually every charitable endeavour from students at Glasgow university, but something about this particular debate struck a chord for me. On the face of it, there is something a bit problematic about predominantly middle class students playing at being poor; five days of faux poverty does not even begin to cover the experience of actually living below the line. The relief felt by students at the end of the challenge as they order in a Domino’s is a luxury which is not afforded to the poor.

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David Bowie: Are Mourners Jumping on the Bandwagon?

maxresdefaultOriginally published in the Glasgow Guardian, Issue 4 2015/2016

As the news of David Bowie’s death from cancer broke last Monday morning, the inevitable social media storm ensued within minutes. Celebrity death has always been an industry in itself, and the internet has only intensified the trend. Within hours of the announcement of Bowie’s untimely death, his records were shooting up the charts. Bookshops proudly displayed Bowie biographies in their windows whilst movies and documentaries featuring the late rock star trended on Netflix. I have no doubt that in the months to come Bowie merchandise and tribute albums will appear in abundance. Mass mourning has become as inevitable as celebrity death itself. However this attracts controversy too, from accusations of mourners jumping on the bandwagon to questions around the validity of grief for an individual we didn’t really know.

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Corbyn’s problem with women

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Originally published in the Glasgow Guardian

The Labour Party’s first Shadow cabinet reshuffle since Jeremy Corbyn took on the leaderships was always going to attract considerable media attention. However as speculation grew that Corbyn will target rebellious shadow ministers, the reshuffle has proven controversial for more than just ideology. Blairite MP Jess Phillips has accused Corbyn of “non-violent misogyny” due to his continued failures to promote female talent within the shadow cabinet. The issue of women in the party is one that began to plague Corbyn’s leadership before his campaign team’s first celebratory pint had even been pulled. The absence of female voices at the conference announcing his shock landslide win did not go unnoticed. The trend continued as Jeremy named his first Shadow cabinet, with top positions of Shadow Chancellor, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary reserved for John McDonnell, Andy Burnham and Hilary Benn. As Jeremy and many of his supporters continue to deny claims of sexism, does Jess Phillips have a point?

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Sobriety is an increasingly common lifestyle choice, not just a fundraising gimmick

kermit-1651325_960_720Originally published in the Glasgow Guardian, Issue 2 2015/2016

“Are you not drinking tonight?”

Since the new academic year began, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked this question as I stand at the bar, ordering my new drink of choice, a J2O. The Go Sober for October challenge, where participants give up alcohol for the month of October in return for charity sponsorship, has hit campus this year on a far greater scale than in previous years. The QMU’s Charities and Campaigns Committee are taking part, in aid of their charity of the semester, Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland. Given the prevalence of alcohol in the typical student experience, it’s not hard to see why people are confused when I tell them it was my choice, sans sponsorship, to give up alcohol.

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