Stephanie Skarbek

Stephanie Skarbek

I'm in my second year studying English Literature and Language at Leeds. In my spare time, which I never seem to have a lot of, I like to draw, play the drums and watch Korean films. I also write short stories, and spend my time investing in comic books and cheap clothing on ebay!

Although the official Apartheid Week took place last week it seems that Scarlett Johansson will stand strongly next to her decision to remain the face of Sodastream Drinks Maker. But although Johansson ended her official ambassadorship with Oxfam in order to support ties between Palestinian and Israeli industries, how far has the episode merely perpetuated the vacuous starlet stereotype?  

Earlier this year, UKIP councillor David Silvester made headlines with his comment on a local radio station that recent floods in the UK were the result of God’s wrath at the passing of the same sex marriage bill. Whilst the general response to this outburst has been one of bewilderment, with journalists labelling his outburst as ‘bizarre’, it is nonetheless disturbing that this comment was made by an elected official at all. 

It’s perplexing to hear people say, in defence of drone warfare, that drones are ‘state of the art’, precise and effective. This is a bit like saying, ‘alright, fine, a drone is a murder weapon, but it’s the latest in murder weapons, the most en vogue.’ The controversial dimension to this issue arises less from the mechanical efficiency of drones and more from the inevitable question raised by their use: what gives us the right to commit murder?

After a year of trials, Ian Watkins - the frontman of Welsh band Lostprophets - pleaded guilty to eleven child sex-abuse charges; the most harrowing of which included the attempted rape of a one year-old baby. In light of this appalling case, we must ask ourselves: is there more that can be done to prevent celebrities like Watkins from abusing their high-profile status' for evil?

 

In light of the recent protests against BAE at Leeds University, the question of morally censoring careers fairs has become an issue throughout the UK. Such censorship, however, seems to be an issue of ethical evaluation rather than of any sort of restriction. The protests last month highlighted the need for universities to become aware of the fact that they are wrongly presenting the true implications of supporting those involved in arms trade. Surely, at least, our universities are aware too of the legality of business that these companies require, or at least their morality. Graduates desperately seeking to find a well paid career are being seriously mislead as to the true implications of participating in such an unscrupulous profession.

It is a dangerous thing, 'us vs them' politics. The present government has been particularly reliant on this tactic in the face of widespread anxiety that support is being lost in favour of parties such as UKIP. The first debate to stem from this was the issue of those on welfare benefits. That argument is settled with the unfairness of the 'bedroom tax' acknowledged and the claim that £53 a week is more than enough. The debate has now turned to the new 'them', immigrants and in particular foreign students. Whilst in terms of welfare, Labour was quick to take a stand to support them, the tragic fact is that no major party is standing up for the rights of those who come to our country, leaving most of the population oblivious to the tragic effects of the harsh new policies being enacted.

 

Last month, the Leeds Student newspaper published a shocking article exposing an event called ‘Freshers Violation’. They managed to get hold of an uncut audio of the original video clip advertising the student club night Tequila. The clip featured a man asking party-goers how they were going to ‘violate a fresher’, encouraging responses from male students such as, ‘I’m going to fist her so hard she won’t know what’s happening’ and claims that a girl was going to ‘get raped’. Unsurprisingly, the video was quickly removed from Tequila UK’s YouTube account after outrage was expressed on social media websites, with the clip being described as ‘disgusting’ and evidence of ‘the abhorrent state of rape culture in the student world’. 

 

Over the last few years, the Greek population has been plunged into a climate of fear. Following a dubious political agenda, cuts in pensions and wages and Europe’s charitable bailouts, the country has been left in a state of chaos. Since 2010, Athens has witnessed continual protests, culminating in the 2012 street riots. The Greek capital is all too familiar with the sight of citizens running in fear, surrounded by tear gas and flames.

Increasing numbers of students are taking 'smart drugs' such as Ritalin and Modafinil to help them with their concentration and studying, with busier schedules and pressure being blamed. 

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