@ewansomerville

We trawled through our archives and picked out the hottest news stories here on the University of Sheffield campus and in our wider city from 2018. Get ready, it was a big year.

20. ‘Drunk vegetarians’ were on Broomhill Friery’s mind

The iconic Broomhill Friery decided to change their repertoire “for the drunk vegetarians”. Owner Dan Bean, (yes, we know) nephew of Game of Thrones star Sean Bean, also dropped the bomb that half of food sales after 10pm are vegetarian anyhow. The go-to end of the night stop already fries all of its food in vegetable oil, but veggie nuggets will now feature on the menu. Another reason to go to Pop Tarts, if we needed it.

19. Pool tables too ‘masculine’ for The Edge Bar

The much-loved pool tables at The Edge Bar were no longer for this year’s Freshers, as management said it was “quite masculine” and “‘standard lager type’ led”. A big screen was also removed in new retro design, aiming to be more friendly to all. It features walls adorned with lyrics to Arctic Monkeys classic ‘Mardy Bum’ and ‘Common People’ by Pulp.

18. Do students ruin West Street? Locals, preach it…

A poll of 800 Sheffield locals found that almost 60 per cent wanted less student venues on West Street and Devonshire Green. Just over half of respondents said they would recommend the area to a friend before 5pm, but this plummeted to 22 per cent after 11pm. More boutiques, independent shops and high quality restaurants were all on the wish list for the area.

17. Tenth anniversary Tramlines was bigger than ever

Noel Gallagher and the Stereophonics headlined a “bigger than ever before” tenth-anniversary Tramlines this year. In a first, the classic Sheffield festival, traditionally scattered at venues across the city, united in the 40,000 capacity Hillsborough Park in the summer.

Our full coverage of Tramlines 2018:

Timm Cleasby unveils the new plaque for the late Sarah Nulty. Picture: Marc Barker

Tragically, the festival’s director for nearly a decade Sarah Nulty, passed away three weeks before the tenth anniversary, aged just 36. Touching tributes saw her hailed a “superstar” and the “life and soul” of Tramlines. She has since been honoured with a posthumous plaque and a prestigious award won by the likes of Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis.

16. Caroline Lucas laid into our former Vice Chancellor

Forge Online News Editor Ewan Somerville interviews Caroline Lucas

The iconic former Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas didn’t hold back in slamming our former Vice Chancellor’s £420,000 salary as “obscene”. Known for her calm but ruthless approach to TV election debates, she also told Forge Press, “I don’t think there is any justification for salaries of that kind”. Sir Keith Burnett, who was also criticised for claiming £50,000 in expenses in a single year to live a lavish five-star lifestyle on work trips abroad, retired at the end of the academic year. His successor Koen Lamberts earns £285,000.

15. I hereby announce that our first poet laureate is…

Otis Mensah wants to break down the image of poetry as ‘elitist’. Picture: Will Roberts, Vox Multimedia

The Steel City celebrated its first ever poet laureate, the hip-hop rapper Otis Mensah. Enshrining the honour, Lord Mayor Magid Magid said “Otis represents all that is great about Sheffield, he’s dynamic, skillful and radical”. Mensah has had a huge year, breaking new ground in his attempt to convey emotion through poetry, challenging “an elitist, whitewashed art form”.

14. Cerys O’Boyle, the Black and Gold legend

A shaken but proud Black and Gold community came together to remember Cerys O’Boyle, the late captain of the Women’s Football team. The “really special” Cerys, 21, had just begun studying a masters in Modern History but passed away following a short illness in October. As friends, team mates, family and Sport Sheffield Club Sport manager Greg Unwin led the tributes, Cerys was hailed “Black and Gold through and through” who “adored” Sheffield University and ROAR. As her father said, she will be remembered for her approach to life: “Live, Laugh, Love, Roar”.

13. History was made at Sheffield SU (no, really)

Determined to make history in gaining two new councillors to represent them on the influential Sheffield SU Council, Sports Committee and Societies Committee joined forces to rally the masses. A lively campaign saw them eventually reach the 1,000 student votes needed – the first time this has ever happened – making them a big step closer to their goal.

12. Do more to tackle racism, BME students told management

BME students takes to Firth Court to demand the University takes action on racism. Picture: Alex Peneva

Dozens of students gathered outside Firth Court calling for the University to do more to confront racist behaviour. It was after a Uni of Sheffield student was accused of throwing a rotten banana at a black Hallam student during the Varsity Ice Hockey match. Organised by BME committee, the alleged victim Tyrell Pearce said the University was “trying to sweep it under the carpet”. The University apologised and pledged to set up a Task Force with SU and students to improve inclusivity, as well as revising complaints procedures.

11. Controversial LGBT+ student flats went down a storm

The University’s controversial LGBT+ only student flats in Endcliffe – the first of their kind in the country – expanded before they had even opened. The 12 rooms envisaged for the scheme, brought about by the SU’s LGBT+ committee working with the Residence Life accommodation team, were met with over 30 applications. Some criticised the move as “creeping segregation”, but others praised the University for making the dreams of some gay and queer students come true.

Forge Press Opinion section – the debate:

10. ‘Wasteman’ Donald Trump was banished from Sheffield

Sheffield’s Lord Mayor Magid Magid made waves far beyond his city in July when his tweet calling US President Donald Trump “a wasteman” went viral. Magid declared him ‘banned’ from Sheffield ahead of his impending visit to the UK, but Sheffield City Council said he didn’t have the authority to do this. The man himself spoke to Forge Press in September, thanking students for “mak[ing] the lives of people in Sheffield amazing” and telling us about how he was breaking stereotypes in the city’s highest office. Around 4,000 people then took to Sheffield’s streets for what Magid Magid called ‘Mexico Solidarity Day’.

9. A tram with one big pricetag derailed on its first day

The scene of the ‘wrecked’ brand new tram. Picture: Ewan Somerville

It was almost three years late and ended up £60m over-budget – quite a tram, huh? A tram-train actually… designed to travel from Sheffield city centre to Rotherham using both the tram and railway networks. The government-funded project had already faced parliamentary criticism for being off track. One could surely only expect a pristine service on the first day. But no – it derailed, grinding the city to a halt. Luckily only four passengers gained minor injuries and the Rail Accident Investigation branch launched an investigation. But, bouncing 30 feet sideways off the tracks, staff were reported to be crying. “It’s a complete wreck,” one passenger said.

8. A rumbling scandal: Chris Williamson

This one is all a bit confusing but we’ll try to make sense if it for you. In a nutshell, Chris Williamson, a Labour MP who has called antisemitism claims within his party “proxy wars and bullsh*t”, was invited to campus by Sheffield Labour Students. It was for a panel event on the Yemen War, and the University screened him as not posing a danger to Jewish students and staff. But Jewish Society were outraged, calling it “a betrayal of Jewish students in Sheffield” and calling for SLS to respect the Jewish community. Forge Press screenshotted tweets which showed Mr Williamson supporting an expelled Labour member tweeting about Jewish businesses. SLS ploughed on regardless following a committee vote, seeing two members resign and the JSoc co-chair tear up his Labour membership card. After much pressure and amid a new police investigation into alleged hate crimes within the Labour Party, the event was “indefinitely postponed” and held elsewhere. *Deep breath*.

7. Spotlight on Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O’Mara

O’Mara opened up this week about three suicide attempts during his suspension (picture: Twitter)

When former Prime Minister Nick Clegg was booted out of the Sheffield Hallam seat by Labour’s Jared O’Mara in the 2017 election, that face kinda said it all. It was seen as a big win for Labour. But months later, comments made online by O’Mara when he was in his early 20s were unearthed – drawing accusations of homophobia, misogyny and racism. A chaotic week in July saw him reinstated to the party following a prolonged internal investigation, then he revealed he had made three suicide attempts, all before quitting from the party saying he was “made unfairly to feel like a criminal”. Now an independent MP, he hasn’t ruled out standing again in the next general election (whenever that will be…).

6. Sheffield SU vs. the national press

Sheffield SU went on the defence after coming under fire in several national newspapers for publishing “never inject alone” advice on how to take MDMA safely on its website. Accused of ‘normalising’ Class A drug use through the guidance, including to crush pills into small amounts and to “chill out and drink water”, SU Welfare Officer Katharine Swindells hit back. Writing in the Metro, she called the coverage in The Telegraph, Metro and Daily Mail ‘inaccurate and wrong’. One student said they were “ashamed that this policy is real and on their website”, but Ms Swindells argued that accepting drug use happens at university, and thus doing more than just saying ‘don’t use drugs’, is the responsible thing to do.

5. Joana Burns ‘tragedy’: Hallam friend jailed

The drug advice came about following the death of 22 year-old Hallam student Joana Burns. On a celebratory night out for completing her maths degree, she died after taking a second MDMA ‘bomb’ – where the drug is in pure form – at Sheffield SU’s Foundry. Joana’s friend and former student Katherine Lavin was jailed for six months for supplying the drug to Joana, and her dealer, bar worker Benjamin Williams, to two and a half years. Sentencing the pair, judge Jeremy Richardson QC described the case as “a tragedy in every dimension.”

4. ‘Terror’ descended on the ‘Reclaim the Night’ march

The all-women Sheffield SU officer team pictured at the march. Credit: @SheffieldSU on Twitter

The annual march through Sheffield for self-identifying women to stand against sexual harassment and gendered violence was a bit different this year. The proceedings were the same, and the all-women Sheffield SU officer team were out in force for the occasion. But shortly after, Education Officer Anna Crump-Raiswell took to Facebook to voice her “terror” at “being harassed” and “spat” at from balconies as the group walked through Sheffield city centre. Ms Crump-Raiswell also claimed that men “told [us] with such joy in their voices to ‘get out fannies out’ and to ‘get your tits out love’”. Despite this, the turnout was quite something and among the defiant placards was one that read ‘God is a Woman’, referencing Ariana Grande’s hit.

3. Eat My Disco bar crawl condemned, DYSO clamp down

Offensive t-shirts were in abundance at EatMyDisco’s ‘North vs. Midlands vs. South’ freshers bar crawl 2018.

The controversial ‘North vs. Midlands vs. South’ bar crawl returned for the 2018 freshers, with organisers Eat My Disco claiming 3,000 tickets were sold. Last year the white t-shirt night out, finishing at CODE club, made national news after people were spotted with ‘consent is a myth’ and ‘rape is not a crime’ written on their t-shirts. So, this year Forge Press decided to investigate whether much had changed. Alas, not really. We identified a sexually-charged culture, with homophobic and sexist messages in abundance. One male student was spotted outside Tigerworks bar with the words ‘Mr I f*ck kids’ scrawled on his back. Other t-shirts read ‘predator’, ‘tonight’s a buffet of pussy’ and ‘pls shag me’. EMD and Tigerworks didn’t respond to our request for a comment. In response to our story, Sheffield SU clamped down on inappropriate behaviour at their ‘Dance Your Socs Off’ equivalent of the white t-shirt event.

2. UCU strike grinds lectures to a halt

Local business owners were out on the pavements cheering the group on as it marched down Division Street (picture: Ewan Somerville)

The impassioned USS strike saw many lecturers who are part of the UCU union walk out at around 60 universities nationwide over changes to their pensions, causing unprecedented disruption to students across campus. In Sheffield, things got heated as hundreds of students, most prominently former SU Education Officer Stuart Macmillan, rallied behind the lecturers with daily picket lines and vocal marches through the city centre – even in the freezing snow. But many were left unhappy at the amount of lectures and seminars that were disrupted, with no refund. Some lecturers refused students entry to remaining seminars. The tumultuous two weeks of strike action over the course of a month saw the University accused of tearing down posters, and the Arts Tower was barricaded, occupied and shut down by protestors. The group presented Vice-Chancellor Keith Burnett and Universities UK, the body representing British universities, with a list of demands. With little support among students for the stunt, the occupiers capitulated and University Security regained control over the iconic building.

Students and SU officers were heard chanting for Keith Burnett to speak out (picture: Ewan Somerville)

1. FemSoc takes down Randy’s Hardcore Burgers

Randy’s Hardcore Burgers added a ‘Weinstein Burger’ to its menu, sparking outrage worldwide on social media and calls for it to be shut down. Then onto the scene, came the University’s Feminist Society. The Sheffield restaurant was greeted with a strongly-worded open letter from FemSoc damning ‘the Weinstein’ burger, named after shamed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein – a man accused of more than 70 counts of sexual misconduct – as “shocking and intolerable”. Going down a storm across campus, the letter added that the menu was a “mocking of rape and sexual assault”. FemSoc also damned the burger joint’s “nothing more than bad taste” public apology as trivial.

Credit: Ewan Somerville

But things didn’t stop there. Forge Press exclusively accompanied FemSoc president Emily Doyland and vice-president Rosie Apperley as they took to the Sheffield City Council chamber to urge pressure for the wider menu to undergo a “rethink”. After a prominent cabinet member sent the council’s licensing team to investigate and wrote a letter to the restaurant threatening formal action, our reporter then broke the news that Randy’s had gone for good. Reduced to a building shrouded in darkness, with a rent arrears notice on the door, it transpired that the short-lived burger joint bit off more than it could chew.

Here’s to 2019.

@ewansomerville

 

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