October 2007 – Campus mourns the death of Rob Davies
The body of York student Robert Davies was discovered in the River Ouse after an 8-day search for the missing 20-year-old third-year Chemistry student.
The body was discovered by a member of the public on October 1 near the A64 road bridge just outside York. Inspector Nigel Slater said: “We now believe that the body recovered from the River Ouse is that of the missing Yorkshire student Robert Davies.” A formal identification took place some days later.
Davies was reported missing after failing to return home after a night out. He was last spotted on a CCTV camera outside Ziggy’s nightclub on Mickelgate, having been refused entry on the grounds of intoxication. A large-scale search, including an RAF helicopter and searches of the River Foss and River Ouse, was launched.
Davies’s younger sister, Helen, said: “I would like to thank everyone for putting so much effort into helping find Rob. My big brother really was a great guy, and even though 20 isn’t a great age he lived his whole life to the full and no one can take that away from him.” The funeral, held on October 15, was attended by over 40 York students and staff.
October 2007 – Accomodation crisis
Two-Hundred and fifty students were forced into temporary accomodation as the University failed to prepare for incoming students for a third consecutive year.
While 200 Vanbrugh freshers were forced into shared accomodation in other colleges, 47 Langwith students spent their Freshers’ week in a York hotel, at a projected cost to the University of £30,000.
According to the Director of Estates Services, John Street, the delays were caused by “the arrival of the wet weather in June and July” which “caused considerable flooding problems throughout the partially completed buildings, most of which were not wind and water-tight.”
Vanbrugh JCRC Chair Ryan Bennett, said: “We’ve got a bit of a problem having our freshers spread all over the place, which is going to make it very difficult for our JCR.”
Affected students were informed with a phone call from the University. Press Officer David Garner said: “Unfortunately that is how it is, we’ve got to deal with the problem.”
October 2007 – YUSU labelled sexist
YUSU was accused of sexism by national groups, academic and administrative staff and students after appearing to distribute gender-oriented fresher welcome bags.
Blue bags, containing the men’s magazine FHM were distributed, while pink bags contained cellulite cream.
Dr. Sasha Rakoff, an advisor to Amnesty International UK said: “YUSU’s decision to promote pornographic and deeply contemptuous material to male students reflects very poorly on the University [and] is totally counter to any equality commitments.”
YUSU Services and Finance Officer Matt Burton, who sourced the bags, said: “Why do we need to baby people? It’s political correctness gone mad. There are a lot of people that would get a lot of pleasure out of these magazines.”
November 2007 – York votes to keep NUS affiliation
YUSU retained its affiliation to the National Union of Students (NUS) after 72% of voters backed the ‘Yes to NUS’ campaign. Voter turnout, at 1,389 students, was unexpectedly high, as was the 26% support that the disaffiliation campaign received.
Tom Langrish, who led the ‘Yes’ campaign, said: “We had two aims for this campaign, to stay affiliated and to educate people about the NUS. We’ve achieved both.”
Several high-profile speakers attended York during the voting week, including NUS President Gemma Tumelty and former NUS and YUSU President John Randall. “I am really over the moon,” Tumelty said, “every single time that students vote to stay in the NUS, it strengthens our democratic voice as the largest student organisation in the world.”
January 2008 – Askerov found guilty of examination fraud
Elnar Askerov, a former York student, was sentenced to 300 hours of community service after pleading guilty to charges of conspiring to defraud the University.
Askerov, 22, from Azerbaijan, admitted to persuading 34-year-old investment banker Jerome Drean to impersonate him in his final-year examination. Alexander Cameron QC, representing Askerov, stated that he was “under pressure to achieve” from his family, and had issued an “unqualified apology to the University.”
Judge Stephen Ashcroft, sentencing, described the case as “highly unusual” and “deeply offensive to thousands of dilligent students.” He also warned both men that any additional misconduct would result in a prison sentence. At the initial hearing, Ashcroft said he would consider “all sentences, including custody,” adding that it was “an unusual yet serious case of dishonesty.”
Drean was also forced to return illegally-obtained assets totalling £20,000.
January 2008 – Arms links criticised
A report criticised York for accepting almost £8million from arms companies. The report, by Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), analysed military funding at 26 UK universities between 2001 and 2006.
59 military projects, based primarily in the Computer Sciences and Electronics Departments, brought in over £7.7million. The majority of the money came from BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and QinetiQ. CAAT spokesperson Symon Hill, described the findings as “appalling”.
February 2008 – Fletcher-Hackwood loses confidence vote
YUSU Academic and Welfare Officer Grace Fletcher-Hackwood was forced to resign following a campus vote.
The motion of no-confidence, submitted to a UGM by second-year student Dan Taylor, saw an unprecedented 1,440 votes, with an overall majority of eight. Taylor, who called for her resignation after she assaulted him at a campus event, said afterwards: “I am delighted. Students have made the correct decision. Students have spoken.”
Her dismissal left YUSU without a trained welfare officer, with President Anne-Marie Canning taking on the responsibilities. “We are confident that we can make sure students don’t lose out – it’s just going to mean more pressure on Union Officers and staff,” said Canning.
Student Development and Charities Officer Joey Ellis had publicly condemned Hackwood at the UGM, saying that her colleagues actions were “unacceptable” and “intolerable”.
Claims that Hackwood would appeal proved false.
March 2008 – Mad Cap’n Scott elected President
Pirate candidate Tom Scott secured the YUSU Presidency for 2008/09 after securing over 40% of a record-breaking 2,986 votes.
Scott, who dressed and spoke like a pirate for his entire two-week campaign, claimed he had no intentions of winning. “I was trying to get a quick laugh. It were never about anything but comedy,” he said after the results.
While Scott was criticised during his campaign for stating: “this is, in the end, just student politics. It’s not important”, current President Anne-Marie Canning defended his victory, saying: “Tom’s going to do a great job. I think he’s going to be a great President”.
While Scott intially promised to continue his pirate persona throughout his one-year term, he has since confirmed that for official business he will revert to typical dress.
May 2008 – York wins Roses
York secured its 22nd Roses victory, retaining the James-Carter Trophy after a 124-122 victory in Lancaster.
The closest ever victory meant that York moved ahead of their rivals for the first time in the overall rankings.
AU President Jo Carter said: “I’m absolutely speechless, I feel so sick,” after running to the Men’s 1st Hockey Team, whose 3-3 draw secured the winning two points.
Clean sweeps in fencing, lacrosse, skiing, snooker, sailing and golf contributed to the York victory.
May 2008 – YUSU granted bar space in Langwith
YUSU were officially given permission to create a student union bar by the University in Langwith.
“It’s fantastic news for York students and the Students’ Union to be given the go-ahead,” said YUSU Services and Finance Officer Matt Burton, who intially unveiled plans in the spring term. Burton, who initially hoped for an October opening, is currently facing the prospect of a delayed completion date.
After the plans received official student backing in the March UGM, architectural designs were finalised in early May before the University support was granted.
Due to the necessary removal of asbestos in the building before any refurbishment, the bar is unlikely to be ready for the upcoming Freshers’ week. Keith Lilley, University Director of Facilities Management claimed that “pressure on the Directors of Facilities, Management and Estates to complete a large number of high priority projects this summer,” has delayed the asbestos removal from occurring over the summer to commencing in October, rescheduling the opening to January 2009.
In a effort to overturn this decision, an emergency UGM motion was submitted, to “actively campaign and lobby the University and Vice-Chancellor.”
May 2008 – Cocaine traces found across York campus
A Nouse Investigation finds traces of cocaine in 24 locations across campus, including Heslington Hall.
The tests, using specialised swabs, showed positive results in toilets in the Sports Centre, the departments of Music, Economics and Chemistry, the Information Centre, Grimston House and all four floors of the Library. Positive results were found in Derwent, Langwith, Vanbrugh, Wentworth, James, and Alcuin colleges.
The University stated it “obviously takes this issue very seriously, and we will look into the results of Nouse’s investigation as a matter of urgency”, but added it would be “premature to draw any firm conclusion from these results.”
A police spokesperson later stated that the York Criminal Investigation Department had begun an investigation into drug use at the University, and had met with Security Services Manager Ken Batten and YUSU President Anne-Marie Canning to discuss the situation.
May 2008 – Arson in Derwent
A fire that destroyed a refuse storage building in Derwent is thought to have been caused by arson.
The porter on duty claimed to have seen four males riding bicycles away from Derwent towards Langwith. The youths were caught briefly on CCTV near Langwith.
The fire, which destroyed a non-residential building adjacent to Derwent D block, burned for 30 minutes with flames twice the height of the building. D block residents were evacuated immediately and the fire brigade was called.
Fears of an asbestos outbreak were dismissed after testing.