RefuTales — Giving Refugees in Europe a Voice

After meeting the incredibly inspiring Syrian refugee Sajida Altaya at a conference in Berlin, I decided to found a new blog with her and another friend, Dorien Dierckx, to give refugees in Europe a voice.

We publish a mixture of in-depth interviews, opinion pieces and policy advice, all informed through the view of refugees themselves. With the help of volunteers from all around Europe, we’re already available in 5 languages, with more on the go.

RefuTales: Giving Refugees in Europe a Voice

Advertisements

Android App Failure of the Week: Radio France Podcast – Review

For anyone who wants to improve their French listening skills, Radio France is the place to go – it’s the French public radio with national and local channels such as France Info. If you have a favourite program or don’t want to drain your mobile data listening on the go, a Podcast App is the solution and it exists indeed (click here) – but it’s an exacerbating failure. This article outlines why. If anyone knows anyone in a position of power at RF please make them aware of the situation.

Continue reading

Google Maps Feature Suggestion: Notification when Bus/Train arrives at destination

Have you ever spent your public transport journey looking anxiously for signs when to get off or even worse miss a stop because you were asleep? A small tweak to Google Maps’ already amazing public transport directions would make this a thing of the past. Read on to help make this a reality, it’ll take less than 3 minutes of your time and possibly simplify the lives of millions of people.

Continue reading

Complete Guide to Beach Volleyball in Brussels

Up to date as of July 18 2016. This is a work in progress so if I’ve omitted something please let me know through comment or email.

This serves as a guide to any newcomers to Brussels who want to start playing Beach Volley as soon as possible but don’t know where and with whom. The good news are that there are plenty of courts around Brussels that are usually not too crowded. The bad news that it’s not entirely trivial to find people to play with – but with a bit of effort it should work out.

Continue reading

Trinity: Please abolish the prohibition of outside food in the Bar

Trinity’s Bar does not allow students to take in food that has not been purchased internally. Many students have voiced their opposition to this rule to me in private. I get that it’s not the biggest issue in College, but it’s one of a number of small things that make College feel less welcoming than it could (like outdoor seating). For these reasons, I’ve decided to devote a blog post to it.

Continue reading

NUS referendum may fail due to questionable quorum

CUSU’s elections committee, chaired by Coordinator Jemma Stewart, has single-handedly chosen to significantly disadvantage the NUS disaffiliation campaign with a challenging quorum. The disaffiliation campaign should challenge the decision to achieve a level playing field.

With the quorum in place, it’s in the remain campaign’s interest that the referendum is poorly publicised. An important question like NUS affiliation should not be determined through an arbitrary quorum.

Continue reading

Let’s face it: CUSU Council is broken

When sabbatical officers and student representatives sardonically applauded the passing of a motion that deprives dedicated student journalists with tears in their eyes of their passion, I was appalled. When a motion that’s critical of CUSU was silenced enthusiastically through a procedural motion before it was even debated, words failed me.

After all, these developments shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone. The decision to axe support for The Cambridge Student is just the last in a long line of questionable decisions taken by CUSU Council.

Continue reading

Why CUSU Council should not abolish the Coordinator position now

The CUSU Coordinator and President are proposing that the position of Coordinator not be filled in a by-election. I believe that this is wrong. CUSU is out of touch with students and lacks administrative competence. Getting rid of the Coordinator would make things worse.

The motion argues that the role of Coordinator is outdated and unnecessary. This is entirely a matter of perspective. Job names and descriptions don’t matter very much. Nothing stops the Coordinator from being an effective minister without portfolio, taking care of whatever needs attention. There’s plenty of things CUSU could do to improve students’ lives, one just has to look at the plethora of great ideas that successful and unsuccessful candidates at elections had together. The motion argues that the tasks could be shared among staff and sabbs but it’s clear that this is a dream. First, they are all busy already. Second, sabbs bring in fresh ideas in a way that staff doesn’t. Third, staff will never represent students towards the University, it takes elected student representatives to do that. Cutting the position would lead to a further bureaucratisation of CUSU.

Continue reading

How CUSU’s sabb contracts are part of the problem

CUSU has finally published the proposed contracts for sabbatical officers, to be ratified by CUSU Council on Monday. They make for sober reading.

Did you think that sabbatical officers were like MPs or members of the government, only accountable to the electorate? Well, you were wrong. The contracts contain a number of restrictive clauses that in my opinion are not in the best interest of the students represented by sabbatical officers and should thus be questioned.

The salient bits are screenshot for your convenience and accompanied by a comment of mine.

disrepute

Don’t you dare bring CUSU’s incompetence to light! If you become a sabbatical officer you better keep your mouth shut lest you bring CUSU into disrepute.

Continue reading

Why CUSU Council should reject the proposed budget

I’ve read CUSU’s proposed budget for 16/17 cover to cover. Here’s my recommendation to CUSU Council representatives: Don’t ratify it. There are lots of alternatives to what the budget claims is without alternative: Destroying TCS and doing without a Coordinator. There are more than 50k GBP of quick and painless savings opportunities that are untapped in the budget.

CUSU is a self-serving bureaucracy that’s resistant to change and making bad decisions. CUSU’s proposal to kill TCS’ print edition without a transition period is just the last straw that broke the Camel’s back. It’s time for a brave CUSU Council to break the vicious cycle and call for change.

The following contains a number of suggestions to bring CUSU’s budget back in line without killing TCS and the Coordinator position. Continue reading