From the archives: bombs, Parliament and the Agric-Dental shitstorm

In 1976 the Agric and Dental societies hosted a debate in which “mud, excrement, water, genitals and other ammunition were freely throw around”.

Grace Dean
19th November 2019

Grace Dean looks through the Courier archives to trace the more memorable moments of Newcastle’s history.  

10 years ago - tuition fee protests descend upon Parliament

Students began protesting outside Parliament against the launch of the independent review of higher education and student finance. The review considered whether tuition fees should rise from the then £3225 to £7000 per year for students at higher education institutions in England and Wales. National Union of Students President Wes Streeting believed that politicians would be “hit where it hurts – at the ballot box” and that “MPs should be terrified of the student vote in the next election”.

14 years ago - 50 uses for a Courier

The Courier reported on “50 uses for a Courier”. The newspaper is shown to be incredibly versatile, and some of the highlights are listed below:

  • Stuffing your bra – cosmetic surgery is for wimps
  • Stuffing your crotch – essential for those less-endowed individuals. Be sure to change stuffing in time with the release of each new issue to maintain hygiene levels.
  • Wallpaper your house – sod B&Q and the rest – go for stylish and informative interior decoration
  • Saving your modesty – introduce modesty to drunken streaking before the law gets you
  • Back scratcher – the Courier reaches all the places other papers can’t
  • Replacing hall food – sustain a balanced diet by replacing nasty halls food with Couriers. It works! Note – statement may not be true
  • Paper cuts – be a hard man by dishing out devastating paper cuts to all and sundry
  • Flyer people – give those bloody flyer people outside Campus Coffee a taste of their own medicine by blanket-flyering them with Couriers
  • Cover your folder – and prove you really are too cool for school
  • Massive paper plane – your lecturer will think it’s a 747 heading towards him
  • Stage lightsabre fights – Darth Vader my arse. The Courier makes Jedi status accessible to all
  • Use it as loo roll – recreate that “I’ve just used the loo in a halls of residence” feeling by rubbing your arse raw with Couriers

43 years ago - Agric-Dental shitstorm

The Courier reported on inter-society scandal as it was revealed that the traditional Agric-Dental Debate left massive cleaning bills. In a letter for the Students’ Union President, the two society presidents argued that “the throwing of excrement is now out of hand and the whole function of the debate, that is the debating, is ignored”. All of the Union Society Executive Committee refused to be in any way associated with the debate which was held in the Debating Chamber. While allegedly debating whether “in the field of life it is better to suture than to sow”, the attendees started the event in a supposedly traditional manner, “with mud, excrement, water, genitals and other ammunition being freely throw around the recently decorated chamber”, though the article did not detail exactly who, or what, these genitals and excrement belonged to. After the battle, the room was “twice as bad” as the President of the Union expected it to be and left a “stench”, and, despite the carpet having been rolled up prior to the debate, it was still left “very heavily stained” and had to be professionally cleaned at a cost of approximately £100 (equivalent to about £830 now).  The ceiling additionally had to be repainted at a cost of £17.

Attendee Caroline wrote in to the letters page of the Courier, where she expressed her disdain. After arriving in the Union expecting to be “greeted with the usual friendly atmosphere associated with a quiet evening out”, Caroline was flummoxed to discover a wave of students “impervious to pigs’ genitalia, lungs, viscera, rotten eggs and vegetables, and other miscellaneous crap”.

44 years ago - bomb hoax in Union

A meeting of the International Socialists in the Northumbria University Students’ Union was the subject of a bomb hoax one lunchtime. The bomb hoaxer rang the Evening Chronicle and told them that there was a bomb in the same room as International Socialist speaker Tony Cliff. The newspaper rang the police, who arrived at the Union and evacuated the building, but a thoroughly search of the Union yielded no suspicious items.

That week, an American Black Rat Snake was discovered in a kitchen in Jesmond wrapped around a jar of flour. After the Faculty Assistant who discovered it rang the Environmental Health Department, it was revealed that the snake had actually been bought from a pet shop in Newcastle three months previously and has been “mislaid by its owner”.

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AUTHOR: Grace Dean
Editor-in-Chief of the Courier 2019/20, News Editor 2018/19, writer since 2016 and German & Business graduate. I've written for all of our sections, but particularly enjoy writing breaking news and data-based investigative pieces. Best known in the office for making tea and blasting out James Blunt. Twitter: @graceldean

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