Edinburgh branch of prestigious fraternity face punishment over rape jokes

EUSA is set to punish members of Edinburgh’s only fraternity after they made rape jokes in a meeting.

Students belonging to the all-male Delta Kappa Epsilon recorded a series of sick gags in their minutes, including:

• Members proposing a ‘raping trip’ to Montenegro
• Joking about raping members of FemSoc
• Calling trans people ‘pedantic’

EUSA has requested full details of the minutes in order to publicly discipline frat members responsible for the horrific comments.

An ex-member of the fraternity exclusively told The Tab: “They’re massive dicks, which is why I left. They probably did say all that stuff.

“There’s a couple of them that always judge people for meaningless and pointless things – where you come from, who you are. You’d take it on the chin but the more they said it the more you’d think they’re just terrible people.

“I can’t emphasise how strange it was, it was masonic. I’m so glad I left.”

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The Edinburgh chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE-AS) is the only British outpost of the 170-year-old American society, which claims 44,000 “brothers” across North America.

Five former US Presidents were members of the society, including both Theodore Roosevelt and both Bush Preisdents, as well as a huge honour roll of celebrated businessmen and other public figures.

According to the minutes released by The Student, during discussion of the “Feminists” agenda item, a member of the fraternity suggested organising a game of paintball between DKE-AS and FemSoc to “calm the waters”.

Another member vetoed the motion to which the proposer responded: “How are we going to rape them?”

A second member then said: “Let’s go to Montenegro, for a raping trip.”

A member of the fraternity also joked that a female EUSA official had raped his friend in Florida. Another member responded: “She didn’t need a strap-on!”

The frat discussed setting up the “Phone A Deke” service which involved women calling the fraternity to be walked home after a night out.

And during another conversation, members of the society decided trans people “agreed to be pedantic” when discussing Femsoc’s “point about transgenders”. The “point” is not made clear.

A source within the frat also told The Student members joked about taking advantage of the women because they would be drunk and vulnerable, although this was not recorded in the minutes.

The ex-member said: “It’s an idiotic and stupid idea. They’re the kind of people you’d just think to be single.

“They’ve probably only had one conversation with a girl and decided they never want to talk to them again.”

The above video shows a member of DKE-AS doing a shot from a woman’s cleavage at a rugby social. There is no evidence he was one of the members to make any offensive comments.

Femsoc have published a plea to the uni to also punish members of the fraternity.

They said: “FemSoc condemns in the strongest terms the abhorrent misogynistic and transphobic behaviour and statements made by the DKE frat.

“We hope the university will join us in standing up against sexism and take disciplinary action against students involved in the frat. We plan to take further action on this issue to make sure the Frat cannot continue to operate on this campus.”

At least one of the meetings took place on uni property in the Lorimer Room in the Old College.

The room was booked by the ex-pres who pretended they were hosting a “Mandarin study group”.

The minutes contain details of several DKE-AS meetings between September 2013 and May 2014.

This revelation comes less than a week after American frat leaders confirmed the Edinburgh “colony” as a chapter in the fraternity.

This article was originally posted on The Tab Edinburgh.

Outrage over medics dressing up as sex offender Rolf Harris

Shameless medics stunned students by going to a pub crawl dressed as notorious paedophile Rolf Harris.

The three men attended the annual Beerienteering event dressed in prison jumpsuits and masks of the sex offender’s face.

They are yet to be identified from the event on Tuesday night which was organised by the Medical Society.

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And their stunt has sent shockwaves through the student community. Third-year Politics student Amy said: “The outfits were totally inappropriate.

“I understand that fancy dress is supposed to be fun but this idea was in really bad taste.”

Third-year History student Ashleigh Black thought it was too soon after Harris’ recent arrest. She said: “It’s funny – but for all the wrong reasons.

“It’s highly inappropriate and offensive more than it is funny.

“I’m not sure what they were trying to get across to people by doing it, it’s also a little too soon after the whole thing sort of kicked off.”

Shockingly, Medsoc refused to condemn the chaps’ costume choice. Vice-President Amy said: “People’s costumes are up to them.

“But you can’t use that quote. No comment.”

French student Jonathan Kerr summed it up: “Looks like tomorrow’s doctors are role-playing yesterday’s scumbags.”

But some medics didn’t have a problem with it. One fifth year said: “To be honest, I don’t find them dressed up as Rolf offensive. I’ve seen a lot worse.

“I’m more offended by their lack of imagination and creativity for a beerienteering effort.”

A spokesperson for Aberdeen uni said: “This isn’t something the university would comment on, it’s up to the individuals how they dress on a night out.”

Harris was jailed in the summer for indecently assaulting four young girls in the eighties.

But at least another ten victims have come forward since his sentencing in July.

Medsoc have since removed the Beerienteering Facebook event.

This article was originally published on The Tab Aberdeen.

EXCLUSIVE: A venomous spider bit me in halls and now I’m scared to sleep

A toxic spider left one unlucky fresher in hospital after biting her as she lay sleeping in her halls bed.

But with recent reports of even more severe cases of spider bites, Bronwyn Gray feels she had a lucky escape.

The Edinburgh Napier student said: “I didn’t know it could be so bad people die. I feel so lucky that I didn’t lose my leg – or worse.”

Poisonous: poor Bronwyn was bitten by a venomous spider in her bed

A mild summer has allowed spiders to grow bigger than ever. Experts now predict more will move into our homes as winter approaches.

In Hull a mother of four was left unable to walk after being bitten at a friend’s barbecue.

Julie Roberts was rushed to hospital and spent three days on drip-fed antibiotics. She told The Mirror: “At the moment I feel like a nervous wreck.

“I have been having panic attacks and freaking out. I was never like this before.”

Bronwyn had just started uni when she was bitten.

Bronwyn, 18, is now just as frightened: “I’ve heard of black widows and things but I didn’t think normal spiders could do this to you. I’m absolutely terrified of them now.”

She first noticed the bite when she woke up in halls.

The shaken first year said: “One day I had a wee spot on my arm and then it started growing and then lines started coming out of it.

“I went to the chemist and they gave me an antiseptic, but I ended in hospital after a week. It was then they told me it was a spider bite. I was really freaked out.

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“It was scary seeing the other bites in the news and how bad it can actually get. I feel really lucky.”

Bronwyn was home for the weekend when she was taken into the Royal Alexandra Hospital after feeling ill.

She said: “I thought it was just freshers’ flu – I had a cough, but apart from that I was fine.

“At first the hospital didn’t know what it was, but finally a doctor said the last time he saw something like that it was a spider bite.”

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But the eight-legged menace hasn’t been identified as any specific breed. Bronwyn added: “They really didn’t know.”

It’s been a shock for the Paisley girl who thought she would be safe in the chilly climes of Scotland.

She said: “I didn’t think spiders bit – until one bit me. I’m just really glad it’s not as bad as any other bites I’ve seen now.”

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Now the bite is finally going down she can enjoy the start of uni.

She said: “It’s getting better now, but I’m gutted I don’t have super spidey powers.

“My mates were really freaked out as well, they’d never seen anything like it. Everyone says they can’t sleep at night.

“I try to avoid them at all costs but it didn’t work for me.”

This exclusive was originally published on The Tab.

Outrage over Aberdeen Uni ‘victim-blaming’ video

“She’s gone home, alone, in the dark, through a dimly lit part of the town. She’s been-”

And then a lettuce screams.

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This is a video released by Aberdeen University in a pathetic attempt to raise safety awareness.

But students are in uproar, accusing the university of “victim-blaming” in the “disgusting and patronising” video.

And Rape and Support Aberdeen have branded the video “pretty awful”.

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The uni’s impression of a female student

This is the latest in a series of embarrassing blunders made by the uni.

Instead of housing the freshers they made homeless, they poured money into an animation that students are describing as “victim-blaming, scaremongering, with no cohesive message”.

The out-of-touch clip is targeted at freshers, although it comes across as an animation for children.

In it, a group of stereotypical Scottish characters discuss where “Madame Fromage” has disappeared to after a night out.

They discuss that she chose to go out drinking, that she chose to go with two of her male friends, and that she chose to walk home alone.

And although it’s clear the assumption is she has been assaulted, at no point is the onus put on the attacker.

Amy Baxter, a third year, said: “For the university to imply that having a drink, friends of the opposite sex, and wearing heels are all “irresponsible” things to do completely disregards the fact that they are victims to a crime.

“The message which should have been portrayed to new students is rape is wrong and that looking out for one and other at night is one of the important ways to stay safe.”

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And if this wasn’t bad enough, the characters are portrayed through household groceries, as to “lighten up” the dark realities behind the story.

Genna Clarke, President of Welfare and Equal Opportunities, condemned the video after the university failed to communicate with AUSA before commissioning the video:

“It’s just shocking that anyone could have created or watched that back and thought ‘yeah that’s appropriate for university students and really gets the message across.’

“There doesn’t seem to be a message.

“I’m really gutted because I was looking forward to seeing how the University were hoping to increase awareness around safety and was keen to get on board.

“As it stands I will not be backing a campaign that puts the blame on the victim.”

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The uni’s attempt to appeal to students undermines thousands of women, and men, who can fall victim to abuse every year.

Shannon Milne for Rape and Abuse Support Aberdeen said: “They’ve chosen to go down the dark alley, attacked by a stranger route when in reality these are the minority of what actually happens.”

Rape Crisis Scotland reports show a staggering 52% of cases of rape and sexual assault in adults had been the result of their partner. Shannon said:

“We have been made aware of the video by students as well as the press; the overall view of it as patronising and vague whilst being centered around victim blaming is one that we share.

“Violence against women is an issue for Scotland as a whole and therefore is something that all Universities need to tackle but the onus should always be placed on the attacker; the person committing the crime.”

“Teaching people to not rape rather than how to not get raped is the move our society needs to embrace.”

This article was originally published on The Tab Aberdeen.

Suspended Birmingham protester attacks uni ‘bullies’

A Birmingham student protester has accused the uni of waging a campaign of bullying after he was suspended for nine months.

Simone Furse and his friend Kelly Rogers were singled out for the ban as a punishment for joining a student occupation last year – even though 200 others were involved.

Now 22-year-old Simon has branded the university “bullies” and accused them of handling the case in an “incredibly aggressive way” after an internal hearing.

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He told The Tab: “The university doesn’t like having protests against it, it’s trying to stop protests happen by scaring people, but rather than just come out and say “we’re going to fuck these people over” they make up some bullshit quasi-legal process.

“They pretend it’s fair and people are being judged at sanctions, but really it’s just about the fact they don’t like the protests happening and they’re just trying to get people.”

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The pair have been suspended for their part in an eight day occupation of the Great Hall on campus in November. Another student, Hattie Craig, was handed a suspended sentence for six months at a uni hearing.

The sit-in was organised by anti-cuts group Defend Education, who had published a list of ten demands for the uni.

The guilty verdict left Simon shocked, especially as he was delivering food and wasn’t even part of the actual occupation.

Simon, who studied Politics and Economics, said: “There’s a video from outside the Great Hall in which you can see me talking to a group of people around me saying ‘It’s okay, you can go into the occupation, the injunctions not in force yet’ and the university decided that’s a crime worth giving a nine month suspension for.

“I was helping it by delivering food, by organising demonstrations outside etc. And it was basically the opinion of the panel that just by helping the occupation to happen – even if you weren’t personally in it – that is therefore grounds to suspend someone.”

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In a bid to stop the occupation Birmingham University went to court to get an injunction and put two students’ names – Simon and Hattie Craig – on it. Simon said he has “no idea how we were singled out”.

He added: “I have no idea how the university chose the two people they wanted to intimidate. I guess one reason is that both me and Hattie have been sabbatical officers in the student union […] so I guess we’re well known to university management.”

‘It felt like blackmail’

And in an extra blow, the court warned Simon and Hattie they would have to pay the £25,000 of court fees if they didn’t accept the injunction.

He said: “We were told by the university that we would potentially be facing court costs of up to £25,000. When we got to the court hearing we were told by the university that they wouldn’t sweep the cost order if we didn’t accept the injunction. So basically they were using the threat of the money to force us into accepting the injunction in the courts.”

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Now Simon says he feels they were blackmailed by the university, but he says this is part of the university’s “heavy handed tactics” in a bid to stop protesting on campus.

The trial was thrown out in April, but the university dragged their heels over their own disciplinary hearing, with Simon, Hattie and Kelly’s case only being heard at the end of June.

He said: “Again, that was an incredibly difficult time because I was meant to be doing my uni work, catching up from my previous suspension, and Kelly was in the same position.”

“That was quite hard to deal with not knowing what the fuck was going on, not knowing how I was going to plan for my life, not knowing whether or not I should be applying for jobs, that was really hard.”

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Earlier, Simon and Kelly were suspended for participating in another protest in January in which over 100 students were kettled by the police, and thirteen arrested for refusing to give their names.

They were reinstated after a campaign from staff and students alike in which thousands signed a petition, including thirteen MPs.

Simon recalled: “We got over 200 staff to support us when they knew they’d be putting their jobs on the line, their careers on the line, getting the management displeased with them – it shows the level of support among staff. I suspect it will be similar this time.”

And he claimed staff supported Defend Education because they feel the uni treats staff badly, as well as students.

He said: “They deal with stuff in an incredibly aggressive way. They try and have complete power over the way the university is run and attack anyone who says anything different.

“They’re not interested in listening to what people have to say, not interested in working with staff and students at all.”

In a statement to the Tab, Birmingham University said: “Universities are places of free speech and we respect the rights of students and staff to protest peacefully and within the law.

“Indeed, the University helps to facilitate a number of safe and lawful protests and demonstrations on campus each year, addressing a wide range of issues. Participation in a protest is not a disciplinary offence and the University does not invoke disciplinary procedures lightly.

“However, following the events that occurred in November 2013, significant disruption was caused to students and staff: nearly 900 students had their teaching and learning disrupted or displaced, members of staff were prevented from attending their place of work for a week, and disabled and fire access routes were blocked.

“The University has a duty of care to its staff and student community and will not tolerate behaviour that causes harm to individuals, damage to property or significant disruption to our university community.

“We have therefore taken robust action to uphold our responsibilities in this regard.”

The University refused to comment on matters relating to Simon’s case in particular.

This article was originally published on The Tab.

Student Prez spotted partying on paid leave of absence

Student President, Megan Dunn, is currently in her third week of paid absence from her job, but has been tagged partying in Cardiff on the bank holiday.

Megan took a personal leave of absence on the 24th April, however, photos show her partying in Cardiff over the bank holiday weekend just days before.

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Considering our Sabbs are paid £17,329 per year, we’ve worked out that Megan’s three weeks off works out to £928, or, more appropriately:

* 928 VKs in Liquid

* 1344 Vodka mixers in Paramount

* 244 Hangover paninis from Grub

Of course, this is slightly concerning she was recently elected as NUS Vice-President for Higher Education for next year.

An AUSA spokesperson said today that, “Megan has taken a leave of absence for personal reasons. Her leave started on the 24th April and two of the other Sabbatical Officers have taken on Presidential responsibility in lieu of their own jobs.”

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It turns out the two are Sports Pres and flatmate Marc McCorkell, and upcoming Student President, Emily Beever:

“Megan’s work is being divided primarily between Marc and myself, with other tasks being shared amongst both staff and officers.”

However, students are not impressed with Megan’s attitude. It was on her 20th day of absence from the office that The Tab was approached by a student who was fed up of seeing photos of her out skiting all over the country. He said:

“It’s absolutely ridiculous, I’m fuming that she’s not doing her job to go out drinking with her mates.”

Another student had this to say: “She gets paid a good wage by AUSA to be a presence on campus and listen to students’ needs – how is she managing that by being at the other end of the UK? A personal leave is absence is fine, but I don’t think you can justify three weeks off when photos crop up of you drinking in Wales.”

This article was originally posted on The Tab Aberdeen.

Aberdeen lecturers forced to strike for third time this year over pay – but Principal pockets an extra 25%

Lecturers in Aberdeen on Thursday were forced to take to the streets to combat the mere 1% pay increase as part of a national strike movement whilst our own Principal’s salary went up an enormous 25%.

Since October 2008 staff salaries have gone down 13% in realtime and although the numbers on the picket lines were small, the message was loud: for a quality education universities need to start investing in their staff.

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Interestingly, only 35% of the University and College Union took part in the ballot over pay, with 62% voting for strike action. If this issue is so important why were members not voting?

Adam Price of the Plant Genetics department believes: “This is the general state of people’s power in Britain, they believe their vote doesn’t matter. It’s a sad state of democracy.”

Despite the dramatic pay-cut, pay wasn’t the issue for every member of striking staff. Instead, this is a “last stand” after the UCU refused to negotiate on the enormous workloads.

“If they said we’ll give you a 1% pay increase but also a cast-iron guarantee to reduce the workload I believe the strikes would stop,” Price continued, “Staff are dedicated to their students but I worry about our mental and physical health. I did a 64 hour week last week. It’s bloody hard. Our contracts don’t specify hours so there’s no overtime – I could have worked 35-40 hours and received the same pay.”

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Nick Speeding in Geography commented that “academics are called lefty-wasters with long holidays – unfortunately people see four month’s holiday but they don’t understand the work that goes on.”
“On a 40 hour week the salary looks good, but the reality is you work 60 hour weeks and give four weeks free work to the university.”

Another lecturer, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that: “Your level of education is so high because of staff goodwill. If we did a normal hour week it wouldn’t be possible.”

Most staff I spoke to on the picket line said they would even take a pay-cut if the university would hire more staff: “Quibbling over 1% is indictive of everything that’s going on in the system. We need to go back to a system that realises its most valuable asset is its staff.”

However, the senior members of staff noted that this certainly isn’t the case for those starting out in their academic careers, with one lecturer worryingly stating, “If pay continues to go down I can’t continue to recruit pHD students in good conscience.”

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The University of Aberdeen is going to great measures to discourage the strike action. When lecturers went on strike in 2006 the Principal at the time, Duncan Rice, withheld 1/365th of their pay for the respective loss of teaching time.

Ian Diamond, the current Principal, has raised that to 1/266th, and is also withholding staff pensions on strike days. This means that if a member of staff were to die on the day they were striking – whether on the picket line or at home – their family would be entitled to nothing.

It is tactics like this that were labeled “vindictive and mean” on the picket lines on Thursday. “It’s cynical,” one lecturer added, “considering he chucks around the word ‘colleagues’.”

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A further two 2-hour strikes were organised by the UCU last term but the University of Aberdeen, along with around ten other universities, notified their staff that it was a full-day strike as far as they were concerned, and any work that was done outside of those two hours would be considered voluntary. “The university is claiming the Unions are causing disruption when in fact they escalated the strike action. Management is portraying the Union as disruptive but they’re the ones causing lock-outs.”

But it’s not just his counter-strike actions that have incensed his work force. Ian Diamond currently earns over £335,000 a year as Principal of Aberdeen University, an average of over £50,000 more than his counterparts in other Scottish Universities.

“It’s appalling,” said Price, “it doesn’t motivate the staff he leads. University should be set in how we want society to be set, not with the people at the top getting paid masses.”

Having been told by one senior member of staff, “I’m lucky if I get to the end of the month – I should not be in this state at this stage of my career”, it is easy to sympathise with the strikers’ reaction to his “heinous” paycheck.

“We’re a bit like a bank now, we’re becoming a corporation and so we have to smell and dress like a corporation. The people at the top – these are not academics. They are managers. It’s no different from being the head of Sainsburys nowadays.”

It is this corporate attitude that is the main fear of the academic staff for their students and the state of education across the UK: “The university sees us as a commodity, we sell the product of education and they’re not concerned with those selling it. Students also see it as a product. The expectation of students is you will provide me with what I need in order to get a 2:1 to get a piece of paper to get a job. Education has nothing to do with people anymore. Staff-student relationships are failing.”

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Many students have been sympathetic towards the strikes – “I think they understand we have more in common with them than management” – but a huge concern of those on the picket lines was that “students don’t realise we’re going on strike for them.”

“If I was paying for university one thing I’d want is a highly motivated and happy work force,” said one.

Considering “the effect on morale is bad” within academic departments, is the university doing enough for its student’s education? This lecturer’s revelation that emphasis is put on recruiting students based on monetary value suggests not:

“I’ve been told many times that a foreign student is ‘worth’ £11,000,” said one, with another adding, “There’s a low priority for Scottish and EU students because they don’t bring in money.”

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Not only is this attitude a worry in itself for local students, but the enforcing of it shocking, with one lecturer disclosing that her department are actually penalized if they fail to increase the recruitment of international students:
“The department budget looks healthier the more international students you get. If it looks unhealthy you’re punished and management can’t hire replacement staff so the individual workload increases.”

It seems that with an influx of corporate attitudes and ideals the University has stopped caring about the individual whether they be student or staff.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Aberdeen turned into a diploma mill.”

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What can the students do?

Get involved:
“If there are strikes students need to complain about it. If admin can say disruption is minimal things will be allowed to continue. Support the strike by complaining to the university about it as a lack of education.”

“Talk to your lecturers about it, interrogate them, and think about it.”

Packing up his billboard one lecturer said “The Union doesn’t want us to but after the strike I’m going to a café to talk to some of my students about The Odyssey. It’s not a tutorial, it’s not compulsory, it’s just because I really like mythology.”

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“Do I care about a promotion? Yes,” another lecturer laughed, “but that’s what you do. You work your way up the ladder. That’s corporation.”

“However, I also bumped into my third year class today and happened to have the text they’re studying in my bag,” he winked, “it was a lucky coincidence.”

It seems that, unlike Diamond and his management team, for those that went on strike the value of education is priceless.

Ian Diamond and his office chose not to comment.