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From the archives: Adele slated, lecturer assaulted & pro-life meeting picketed

Written by News

Grace Dean looks through the archives to trace this week in Newcastle’s campus history

2008 – t-shirt crawls banned

The same week that the Courier interviewed Jacqueline Wilson, it was also reported that the Student Council made the bold move to ban t-shirted pub crawls. The motion meant that the pub crawl companies which were abundant in Newcastle would no longer be able to advertise or sell t-shirts around the building. It was worried that this ban would cost the Union approximately £20,000 a year in missing bar revenue and marketing income, but fears over student safety overruled this. Such crawl companies were argued to contravene the Union’s Sensible Drinking Policy, with the tragic case of an 18-year-old Exeter student who passed away in 2006 during a pub crawl as part of a Golf Society initiation serving as an example of the dangers of such events. Initiations have since been completely banned by NUSU.

Adele’s debut 19 was slated by the Courier with the review giving it only a 3/10 rating. The writer argued that, although Adele “can really sing”, the problem is “when she starts to write songs. Overachingly sensitive to the point of insincerity, great gluttonous globs of sound flop from the album like mockney beached whales. It’s a terrible shame that the powers that be have selected Adele for stardom, but there you have it. As she herself might say, whateva.”

1991 – President assaults staff

Then President of the Students’ Union Karl Holweger was suspended by the University and faced criminal charges after allegedly assaulting Scandinavian Studies lecturer Glyn Jones in the car park of Newcastle Airport. The lecturer suffered from “a haemorrhage to his right eye, a bruised jaw, bruising around his right eye, cuts to his lips and hand and a bruised kneecap”. Because Holweger was employed by the Union rather than the University, he was unable to attend meetings with the University but could otherwise continue as President, and the other sabbatical officers showed their support by boycotting University meetings. Holweger admitted to police that his “hatred” for Jones had “very personal overtones”, but would not elaborate further. In April of that year, Jones failed to appear in court and all charges against Holweger were dropped. It was rumoured that the University was investigating Jones’ conduct under a “removal of academic staff” statute.

1990 – pro-life meeting picketed

Image: the Courier archives

During a pro-choice demonstration outside Newcastle City Hall, demonstrators clashed with police resulting in the detention of one Newcastle student. A public meeting held by the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) was picketed by over 100 students from Sunderland, Newcastle, Northumbria and Durham Universities alongside local women’s groups to protest again proposed amendments by Conservative MPs Anne Widdercome and Anne Winterton to restrict infertility treatment to married women and to reduce the time limit on abortion.

At the demonstration, which took place on a Monday evening, initial police presence was minimal, but intensified when four coaches of SPUC supporters arrived to attend the meeting, which had roughly 700 attendees. A police guard was formed to force demonstrators back and clear a bath for them into the Hall. The situation was intensified still when a SPUC supporter made a Nazi-style salute to the crowd. After the meeting started at 8pm, demonstrators attempted to enter the meeting but were forced back by a line of arm-linked police officers. It was estimated that in total nine police vans, five of which were unmarked, and three police cars were waiting in the Civic Centre Car Park, with approximately 60 policemen in attendance. A member of the University’s Socialist Worker Student Society was detained by police for obstruction.

1988 – rocky road for Geology

Image: the Courier archives

It was announced that the University’s Geology Department would face partial closure, with Single Honours Geology ceasing to be taught after 1989 and academic staff in the department being reduced from 13 to eight. It was declared that Geology undergraduates would be instead taught at Durham University, while the Geology remnants at Newcastle would have a “strong research role” instead. This was decided in a meeting of the University Grants Committee’s Earth Science Review, which intended to create a Northumbrian Earth Sciences faculty where the universities would “play to areas of strength”, with Geophysics at Durham corresponding being closed in favour of Newcastle’s course.

Last modified: 16th March 2020

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