Dear Mrs. Holley

Dear Mrs. Holley,

Dear Mrs. Holley,

Your letter has not been the first in criticising students for their messy, drunken, riotous ways. It’s a pity that your letter, like said previous letters, contains no hard evidence that incriminates us all. Perhaps I am living in a solipsistic bubble, unaware of the carnage I am apparently living in.

We –want- to live in Swansea, just like you. You seem to believe that just because we are here for our studies, we are going to treat the place with disdain. Over the past week, I have enjoyed the weather at the beach and Singleton Lake. Run down? Appalling? Rubbish. I’d love to see pictures of this. Like I said before, I doubt it is any worse than the aftermath of a big gathering (such as the Six Nations) at the city centre. You may be surprised to hear that my friends and I quite like the beauty of the area, and therefore we’re rather keen to keep it that way, too.

Students have been at the end of this ‘they’re ruining Swansea!’ image for some time. This isn’t representative of the student population. Any person can be loud, drunken or just plain idiotic whether they’re studying, in full-time employment or living as a family. Apparently, it’s easier to pass the buck onto a scapegoat, instead.

You at least pick up on the problem of accommodation, but this is a problem because certain rogue landlords (not all) think that students somehow do not deserve adequate accommodation. I repeat: we do not like to live in squalor. We are people. We are not the monsters under your bed. The minority who are as you say are idiots, not because they are students, but because they are idiots. Treat them as such, report them to the university and don’t tarnish the rest of us in the process, because we care about Swansea as much as you do.

Yours sincerely,

A Student


On Gaming, Brevik > Media

Daily Mail, you never fail to disappoint.

Let’s look at this first, from ‘REVEALED: THE VERY REAL DANGERS OF VIDEO GAMES’.

They also came as a British teacher said children as young as four were hitting classmates as they re-enact scenes from violent 18-rated computer games.

She claimed youngsters were struggling to separate reality from their experiences in the virtual world and then copied the scenes at school.

They were coming to lessons too tired to learn after staying up late playing computer games, and were often leading ‘solitary lives’.

Alison Sherratt, a reception class teacher at Riddlesden St Mary’s Church of England Primary in Keighley, West Yorkshire, outlined her concerns at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference earlier this month.

She said pupils regularly discussed playing games such as the Call Of Duty series, set in various war zones, and Grand Theft Auto – where players carry out robberies, muggings, killings, drug deals and beat prostitutes with baseball bats.

On one occasion, she saw pupils throwing themselves from a play car in slow motion and pretending blood was spurting out of them.

Her warning came after news that 14-year-old Daniel Bartlam killed his mother with a claw hammer after watching a wide range of violent video games, films and TV storylines.

Age limits exist for a reason. If you are going to give a child as young as four games like Grand Theft Auto, you are -asking- for trouble.  Do you let toddlers play with knives? Do you give them bottles of whiskey instead of milk? Of course not. Media is no different, be it video game, film or book. It is a pet peeve of mine that people complain of violent behaviour in children when they are exposed to games and movies like this. Media like this provides role models for these children. Parents who exercise some restraint on their little darlings and not bowing to the ‘My friends have this!’ peer pressure may find that their children won’t obsess over this type of thing.

The attitude to video games needs to mature. A lot of people treat them distantly, as if they are weapons of mass destruction or some form of arcane art. They’re not. Film, literature and games all have differing works that try to attempt different things. Some are intellectual and try to tell a story. Some intend to offend. Some intend to inform. Some are difficult to understand (to watch, to read, to play). Some are simply terribad.

So it is perhaps saddening to hear refreshing clarity from Breivik, rather than reputable news sources. From The Guardian:

“WoW is only a fantasy game, which is not violent at all. It’s just fantasy. It’s a strategy game. You co-operate with a lot of others to overcome challenges. That’s why you do it. It’s a very social game. Half of the time you are connected in communication with others. It would be wrong to consider it an antisocial game.”

Very true. As a former player, I can attest to this. In fact, I have made some lifelong friends through World of Warcraft.

I also find myself agreeing with him about Call of Duty, insofar as it develops ‘target acquisition’. However, many games do this. Hell, even Duck Hunt manages this. It hones your ability to recognise and eliminate a target as quickly as possible. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to become a top soldier. It doesn’t even mean that you can handle a gun adequately. This is no excuse for shoddy reporting. From the Daily Mail:

In a chilling admission regarding the efficacy of the controversial computer game he added: ‘You could give it your grandmother and she would be able to become a super marksman!’

… aaand from The Guardian:
“If you are familiar with a holographic sight, it’s built up in such a way that you could have given it to your grandmother and she would have been a super marksman. It’s designed to be used by anyone. In reality it requires very little training to use it in an optimal way. But of course it does help if you’ve practised using a simulator.”
Crucially, holographic sights could help the geriatric population fend off a zombie apocalypse, and not Call of Duty. The man had also clearly practised with firearms prior to his spree. It is not as if Breivik says that anyone can train to be a killer with Call of Duty. The Daily Mail thinks that. Not Breivik.
This idea that games are enough to train someone how to kill is unfounded. They can hone your awareness and reactions, but unless they actually go to the trouble of providing a step-by-step guide on how to assemble a gun and aim adequately, it will never amount to much.
Besides, if we’re talking about bad influences, the Bible has provoked more death than any other form of media out there.
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Own Goal: Think Before You Tweet

The fuss about Liam Stacey’s tweets just won’t die down. Victoria Cohen has recently posted an article asking if we actually knew what Liam was being arrested for. This is something that was troubling me ever since the news initially broke. Whilst I may be perilously close to sounding a bit too liberal, isn’t it a bit concerning when other more severe cases aren’t dealt with nearly as quickly as this scenario?

I’ll pause here for a moment to clarify my position. Yes, I understand that racism isn’t something we should be condoning. Yes, I am a white male, and I am not likely to be on the receiving end of racial abuse. As a country, however, Britain seems to place a lot of stock in free speech. Except when this sort of thing happens. ‘I disagree with what you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it’ sort of thing.

The tweets:

Obviously he’s a twat, and his meaningless swearing suffers from the law of diminishing returns, which really rustles my jimmies. If he had acted on his racist remarks, then the law would be entirely within rights to give him a right bollocking. The sentence he actually received, however, seems disproportionate to many other incidents of more blatant (and physical) racism.

Here is one example:

Three male police officers in east London have been placed on restricted duties for allegedly making racist comments, Scotland Yard has said, two days after the Metropolitan police commissioner urged his staff to report inappropriate behaviour by colleagues and declared he would “not stand for any racism or racists”.

Wait a second.

Three male police officers in east London have been placed on restricted duties for allegedly making racist comments.

WELL THIS MAKES SENSE. Police officers throwing their weight around? Slap on the wrist. Bloke mistaking Twitter for 4chan? SEND HIM TO THE DOGS. I can’t fathom why police officers somehow have this limited immunity to allegations such as these, even in the face of hard evidence. Their lot should be a swift kick from the police force. ‘Restricted duties’? Well, that has surely put the alleged victim’s worries to rest. One case involves an audio recording.

I mean, if we’re that set against racism, why hasn’t Nick Griffin been locked up already? How does the EDL still exist? Joseph Harker suggests that they get away with everything, whilst people are content to chase down ‘easy targets’ such as Liam:

At the moment, it seems, the criminal justice system is unleashing all its energy on the little guys. Twitterers, train ranters, even footballers – for venting their emotions in public. These are all issues which, a few years ago, would have gone mostly unnoticed by all but the victims. Now, though, these incidents are likely to be recorded, replayed, retweeted, stuck on YouTube and viewed by millions. And the state seems keen to go after these “quick wins” to try to claim that racism will no longer be tolerated.

I know how unpleasant racial abuse can be: as a child I was regularly insulted, sometimes assaulted, by passers-by in the street hurling racial epithets. They knew they could get away with it, and I never thought to report a “racial incident” to the police – there was no chance they’d have done anything about it. (Later, as a student, I had bricks thrown through my window wrapped in paper covered with Nazi slogans. I reported that: the police did next to nothing.)

But to me, the sad individuals who vent their emotions this way have never been the real problem: they’re mostly uneducated, they hold little real power over me, and the threat they pose is minimal. By contrast, the people who actually go out organising, who form political organisations pledged to ethnically cleanse the country, forcing me and my family out, are the real danger. And they seem to get away with everything.

This isn’t justice. Liam’s case was a lynching. It was a textbook case of mob mentality, and had a modicum of restraint been exercised then Liam would probably have been subject to a disciplinary hearing at Swansea University and banned on Twitter. Perhaps that would have happened if a Twitter moderator swooped in on his tweets early enough (though that would have been nearly impossible). What good does a jail sentence serve, other than to make an example of him?

Whilst I’m at it, I found another news article floating about today. Brendan O’Riodran is facing a malpractice probe, a year after posting the following on his Facebook account:

Back and causing chaos. Been on call this week. Been in theatre this week slaughtering the innocent.

The doctor was already under fire for an issue with one Johnnie Antoniazzi, who had died whilst under Brendan’s care. What does this Facebook message have to do with the issue? His widow is quite right to be angry with his doctor for what she perceives as a neglect of care, but this message has nothing to do with the issue at all.

Regardless of all this, Liam Stacey has learnt a very important lesson this month: Life is unfair. Twitter is especially unfair.

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Dear Mr. Stroud

Dear Mr. Stroud,

I hope you do not find my response too bold, but seeing as I had no direct way to respond to you, I thought I would write this. I am a student at Swansea University, and I have been here for some time. I am sick of sweeping generalisations like the ones made in your letter.

This is, of course, a huge understatement. Have you done one iota of research before boldly marching forward with your charge against the dirty, scummy student population? I sincerely doubt it. I’ll leave you with a name to get started on, if you like. Charlotte Britton, soon-to-be the Students’ Union Welfare Officer for a second year, has been very active in making sure that students help clean up the area in which they live. Surprisingly, it is not the Union’s only job to provide us with free condoms and cheap beer. Please tell me why these young people – attracted to Swansea largely for its location – would actively try to destroy this ugly, lovely city? It beggars belief that people think that this is our aim in life. There are some other organisations that exist that organise clean-ups of the beach, and whilst I cannot name them all, I’m sure they will come forward soon enough. Looks like they have!

Yes, some students are careless. People in general are careless. Not just students. For every group in society, there are a few who act like idiots and ruin things for everyone else. I suppose I should thank you for at least not going to the lengths of thinking we’re all racists, just because one bloke really didn’t like that Muamba bloke. You still seem to worry that we’re going to turn the campus into Chernobyl, though, and it confounds me. You say that litter is strewn about campus and is ‘ankle-deep’ at the lawn. Provide photos and actual figures for the costs to clean it up and we’ll talk. I’ll bet it doesn’t amount to what it would have taken to clean up after any of the Six Nations showings near Swansea Castle.

This reminds me of another article posted online here. A response was posted here. Do you think we purposefully try to attract wildlife? Christ. We’re not trying to summon Swansea’s population of seagulls to your doorstep. Most of the time, it’s an effect, not a cause.

Perhaps I am overreacting, but I am focusing on your letter because it is endemic of a society that thinks us students do bugger all. I’ve spent my time wisely at university. If I’m shelling out for my degree (something  previous generations had the luxury of not paying), I’m not going to throw it away. Contrary to popular opinion, I’ve managed to work without being perpetually drunk or stoned.

I am bored of the look I get when I say I am a student. Why should society berate us with arrogant finger-wagging when it is no better itself? Whenever I watch a session of Prime Minister’s Questions, it makes me weep. These ‘politicians’, these paragons of democracy, act like kids fighting over a bunch of toys. How about all the chin-wagging about tax evasion? These are the people you should be concerned about, rather than yawing on about students like an agitated Daily Mail reader. Leave us be. We are only trying to educate ourselves, so stop flinging mud at us. Try the pasty tax. That’s a hot topic (haha, I crack myself up).

Of course, I realise that not everyone thinks like this. This letter goes out to the minority who would agree with you in addition to your good self, Mr. Stroud.

I am going to leave the comments section open to anyone on this blog, and I invite you to post your response here.

Yours sincerely,

A Student


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