VERSA | VERSA’s Guide to the student press: who to read and why

Aka VERSA’s nursery.  We were born from the crucible that is the propaganda wing of OUSU, with every Editor-in-Chief to date having served on OxStu’s staff at some point. Here’s hoping f̶u̶t̶u̶r̶e̶ ̶d̶e̶f̶e̶c̶t̶o̶r̶s̶ current Editors David Barker and Laura Whetherly can too free themselves from OUSU’s shackles. Nominally has a huge circulation, but is most often found yellowing unread in JCRs. Perhaps nobody cares about a 1st year PPEist’s insights on Israel/Palestine after all.

Why read? Because it is there. You will never be further than 25 metres from a copy of the OxStu.

Why write? If want something to send home to mum or want to write for VERSA in the future. Who knows, you might get in straight as a section editor. Oh and the name is still ‘respectable’ as far as the student press goes. CV fodder. If we’re being fair, you can actually learn some stuff too, if you really try.

Verdict: Good for using as something to shit on. In all fairness, a good/easy way into student journalism. Bankrolled by OUSU, which guarantees print and circulation numbers, you’ll deffo get published. Some of those copies are actually read too. Watch out for OUSU control though – it’s become tighter in the past year, for all the editors’ attempts.

OxStu’s ugly big sister. Collectively known as CherStu. Founded in 1920 – as they never forget to remind us – Cherwell flaunts itself as Oxford’s ‘independent’ paper.

Why read? It is blissfully short and comes out on a Friday when you will probably have nothing better to do.  John Evelyn is worth it for the gossip, and occasional libel. It is also fun to steal multiple copies from your JCR, to highlight Cherwell’s unhappily low circulation count.

Why write? You can learn some skills. Well – you have to do every role in the paper. VERSA presumes that at least three terms of slaving away in their ‘office building’ (read: an attic above a solicitors on Aldates) will teach you something.

Verdict: The reputation it tries to garner as the ‘cool’ and ‘indy’ paper of Oxford doesn’t hold water, and it tends to attract those who don’t want to commit to something bigger. Dodgy links to an OUSU campaign last year didn’t do it many favours.

Yep, it’s actually still a thing. Apparently OK at other Unis, in Oxford it’s the home of less-than-relevant ‘news’ about clubbing and articles shared from other towns. Don’t let ‘3,000,000 views a month fool you’, that’s the total of all 60+ Tab sites UK-wide.  

Why write? Regardless of quality, your work will get shared at random unis you barely knew existed. Dave in Newcastle and Kim at UCLan will provide an audience for the content. Someone has to, right?

Why read? You need an alternative to staring at a concrete wall. Or you actually care about club photos from Chester. Either way, not for the more discerning reader.

Verdict: A reputable paper at other unis. Central-control to put OUSU to shame, cross-sharing of irrelevant posts from other cities and some very dubious former staff make the Oxonian iteration a solid 2/10.  

Not the terrorist organisation. This termly publication boasts illustrious former editors and interviewees such as Boris Johnson and Lucian Freud. Has since been taken over by people who think that Cellar is a cool place to go clubbing and wear exclusively vintage clothing. #Edgy

Why read? Occasionally has some interesting articles and images, and will make you look cultured and hipster once a term.

Why write? Probably the only magazine that will think that your wanky poetry is decent. You’ll probably never write a feature for them; Isis have a notoriously pretentious system of rounds of editing.

Verdict: VERSA suspects that the editors of Isis were ignored at school for their ‘literary masterpieces’. Unless you can risk your life in a warzone for arty pictures of bins or have dinner with Julian Assange, don’t bother.

Cuntry Living/No HeterOx/Skin Deep

We’re not saying these three are all the same, but they serve roughly the same purpose and ‘zine format for feminism, LGBTQIA, and race issues respectively. We’ve taken a pop at their related Facebook discussion groups in the past, but we really rate the ‘zines for their interesting & terrifyingly well-informed discussion of liberation issues.

Why read? They’re the best place to learn about liberation issues for a novice, and for the more knowledgeable they give good coverage of important debates. Plus you get the kudos of seeming at the cutting edge of social politics.

Why write? Where to go with extended thinkpieces. Radical ideas are especially welcome. You’ll likely get in with the Oxford left too, though VERSA is less sure if that’s a pro or a con…

Verdict: Provides a platform to pieces that wouldn’t fit into the regular student media. All three do a great job discussing liberation issues. A shame about some of the goings-on in their related Facebook groups.

R.I.P INDUSTRY

The one place where if you were pretty enough you could get your photo printed nicely without it being in Best Dressed Clubbers or a news story. Sadly, due to no one in Oxford really caring about the latest fashion trends and living in stash or vintage clothing, Industry saw its demise in Hillary 2015. Its reincarnation in Cherwell as a double-page pull-out once a term just doesn’t cut it aesthetically as well as the glossy magazine format it once graced. There is probably a reason Vogue doesn’t print on low quality newspaper.

Oxford’s most wanted student journalism”. Either genius or “an atrocity” depending on whom you believe. What can’t be denied is we get people talking. We’ve broken stories on Union elections, DavCam in the Buller, and debauchery on the Varsity ski trip.

Why read? Want bold views, breaking news and experience pieces that will make you think ‘what the fuck?!’, all whilst rejecting CherStu’s faux-broadsheet style? Read VERSA. Don’t care about another ‘enlightened’ HisPol students’ views on Putin, but actually want to hear an opinion on Oxford-related issues? Read VERSA. Bored? Read VERSA.

Why write? We provide top quality training to help you write the stories Oxford students want to hear. We make friends with each other, our meetings end in the pub, and we throw twice-termly staff parties people have dodged finals revision to attend. We will platform any view that is legal to publish and well-reasoned, and we will help you break stories nobody else dares to.

Sound good? APPLY HERE, closes end of freshers’ Week (October 10th!)

Verdict: If we don’t say so ourselves, we’re at least a solid 8.5/10. Maybe a 9.5 when drunk. If a string of national stories, setting the Oxford agenda, and monthly hits over 100,000 within a year of opening isn’t success, we don’t know what it.

We do like to poke fun at our rivals (and those we’ve left trailing behind), but Oxford’s student journo scene is something well worth getting involved in. It’s just our well-informed opinion the best way to do that is with VERSA.

Edward II: fur lined coats, passionate kissing and a brutalist concrete throne VERSA

It may be that the emotions from seeing such an intense piece of drama are still fresh, but as I write this I cannot honestly say that I have ever seen such a formidable student production. 

The first thing that I would mention about this production is that the attention to detail was breathtaking. You notice something, like how Isabella has changed her hair after leaving Edward, and you nod appreciatively. Then, you notice that the light-screen forming the backdrop for the play, which was red while violence was onstage is slowly blending into blue while a child pleads for his aunt’s wife, and you are seriously blown away. It seemed to me that every single move, sound, light and stitch had its place within the show and had been considered before being placed there. Nothing felt incidental or arbitrary, which is to be expected from a production which was 9 months in the making.

The set comprised of a huge, brutalist throne, reflecting the 1980s setting, behind which was a screen which changed colour from scene to scene. The only other way they show scene change is through sound and ambience. While these methods are simple and minimalist, they were effective in supporting the drama which took place before them, giving us an understanding of the actors’ positions without over-powering their messages.

The costumes seemed to follow the 1980s style. Particularly well-presented was Rosa Garland, in the role of Isabella. Dressed in red and stiletto shoes, she conveyed an image of being both graceful and sexually repressed, as her desire for her cold husband was continually unfounded. The peers all wore coats with fur-lining, a simple and efficient way of showing that they were all part of an alliance. One image which remains in my mind is of Isabella confiding in Mortimer about repealing Gaveston, while the peers were visible upstage, lit up in a surreal and eerie way.

And now, the acting. The intimacy between Gaveston (Sam Liu) and Edward II (Calam Lynch) was believable and touching. Lynch’s characterisation of Edward was also powerful as we were able to pity him, and yet also revile him as pathetic and weak. In general, there was not a weak link among the cast, and if there was, it would only be because the standard was so high. The most captivating scene for me was when Edward had been captured by his enemies, was in the dungeons being tortured, and yet still all he could think about was Gaveston. The creative use of stage, levels and general physicality contributed to this and it felt genuinely emotional. Another moment which I found chilling was the final scene, when Prince Edward (Julia Pilkington) had just sent his own mother to her death. Her dealing with the child’s emotions, the pain but also betrayal was incredibly believable.

The only part which disappointed me was the actual murder scene. I felt that more could have been made of it, and that the full potential of its goriness was not explored. However, Edward II was all in all a masterpiece, and something one could easily picture on a National Theatre stage.

Huge congratulations to the cast and crew, and I would recommend that everyone snap up any remaining tickets there may be.

https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/whats-on/all-shows/edward-ii/3563

Versa | Students speak out about the horrors of rustication

Every year, many students rusticate for non-academic reasons. That can encompass physical illness of any kind, but also those who leave for (lacking a better term) ‘personal reasons’. Those can be dark and they can be difficult. Here we talk to two students, A and B, who went through that process – and, in doing so, aim to shed some light on Oxford’s attitude towards those who struggle.

So, tell me a bit about why you were both rusticated.

A: I was pretty ill last Hilary. I’d dropped a lot of weight and wasn’t sleeping. Things had happened in Michaelmas that made people worried. Unbeknownst to me, my friends contacted the college welfare team.

B: In first year, I started self-harming. I told a friend – who’d come over every day to check I was okay, but repeat everything I said to college welfare and his friends. Soon the entire college knew.

Now tell me how it happened.

A: I was called to a meeting, in which two members of the welfare team suggested that rustication was something I should consider. I didn’t understand: my work hadn’t slipped, and – whilst my friends were worried, of course – I wasn’t hurting anyone else.

Two days later, the welfare team came to my room. They told me, apropos de rien, that they had telephoned my parents and I was to be picked up that same afternoon. I was leaving; it was decided.

B: A girl invited me for tea in her room. The college nurse and decanal team promptly appeared at the door. The president of my college had engineered it all – my friend was to lure me there, then call them.

All they’d say was that the President wanted to speak to me urgently. On arrival at his office, he read me a letter.

“We are writing to you as a result of your behaviour this term and its effect on life in College. You have been self-harming . . . we believe it has been significantly disruptive.”

“Your parents are waiting downstairs,” he told me. “We will send your mother up to your room to collect some of your belongings. You are to leave immediately.”

Let’s discuss the process of leaving itself.

A: One small mercy was that I persuaded my parents to delay their arrival until the next morning. That way I could say goodbye. I invited everyone I loved to the pub for the evening, and they came. Two stayed over, to see that I was all right. I wasn’t, but it meant a lot.

The next morning, more people came to help me pack. Packing was hard: I was thin and exhausted.

Driving away from Oxford was leaving the only place I’d ever called home.

B: I asked if I could return to say goodbye to my friends. The President told me I couldn’t. I was to leave, shamefully, through the back gate.

I wasn’t allowed to get all my things – I spent two weeks in my mum’s clothes before my parents could collect mine.

My friends found out I’d left via rumour. That upset me: it meant I never got to tell my side of the story.

And, in all of this, how did your colleges behave?

A: I don’t think they meant any harm. But they were willing to countenance a lot of it to get me off the premises. Put bluntly, I think they were scared I’d die in College. How embarrassing.

The worst bit was the breaches of confidentiality. I know that, with a doctor’s assent, confidentiality may be breached to prevent harm. This wasn’t that. I’d asked for certain things to be kept from my parents – knowledge would only upset them, and would achieve nothing – and the welfare team had agreed…then told them anyway. The response to my distress was sort of an ‘oops, sorry’.

There were also their meetings with my friends. Information about my condition was freely exchanged, and I was told nothing – until one of my friends mentioned it casually. I felt powerless and alone.

B: Disgustingly. Period.

My crime had been a violation of two rules: the first stating we were not to disrupt the studies of others; the second saying forcible removal of a student was permitted in cases where that student had committed misconduct and posed a threat to others’ safety.

The President had instructed my parents not to contact me. My mother was led to believe I was in hospital, incapacitated.

My college, too, had meetings with my peers without my permission. After I left, the President called a meeting to explain what happened to me to thirteen other students. I only know about it because a friend forwarded me the email.

What about the year itself? Did it help?

A: I’m better now than I was. I take a lot more pills than I did. If I miss a dose, things get very bad very fast. Nothing else has changed. I’ve been under NHS care for going on a year, now, and all that’s happened is more pills. Every time something goes wrong – let’s up the dose. Every time I try to explain that I’m not getting any better – oh, try this new type. Nothing changes. But I know that’s not my college’s fault.

B: For some rustication may be a solution. It wasn’t for me. There was no support for me at home, and no prospect of help. Furthermore, I’m an only child: the loneliness was severely detrimental.

I spent more of the year – and the time since – trying to recover from the trauma of rustication, rather than dealing with the reason I was rusticated in the first place.

And how did your colleges act towards you whilst you were away?

A: This is fairly grim. I live in Oxford, but can’t go into College at all – not to see friends, not to vote in JCR meetings (though I’m entitled to do so), not anything. I was told that “[my] suspension of status means that [I] do not participate in college student life, nor in the non-academic side of student life in the University”. I live in Oxford. With students. How on earth can I avoid participating in student life? And, more pressingly – how on earth is this supposed to help me get better and ready to return?

B: Similarly, I was banned from college – told if I returned I’d be expelled. It was odd that I was allowed into every other University building – simply not those owned by my college. I also lived in Oxford; preventing me from entering College made it harder for me to see my friends, made me feel isolated, and made it difficult to make friends in my new year group.

How do you feel about going/being back?

A: As you can probably guess, not thrilled. I can’t wait to resume studying, but I don’t want to go back to the place from which all this came. I tried very hard to move colleges, but my own was fairly obstructive and the new college eventually revealed that they don’t accept applications for migration. That was a blow.

I know that the welfare team will want updates and reports when I’m back, and will want to ‘check in’ with me. I’m, er, really not looking forward to that.

B: Relieved but not elated. I knew no-one in my new year group and no longer felt safe in College. When I asked my tutor if I could switch colleges, she said no.

Welfare demanded fortnightly meetings on pain of expulsion. The same applied to a “reoffence”. I was under constant pressure to hide my emotions, and it’s only this year I’ve started socialising again.

For the most part, it’s three years in the past. I’ve made new friends and I’m living back in College. Still, it’s difficult; seeing the President causes panic attacks, I still have a scar on my arm (and everyone knows why), and I’m conscious of being a year older than my peers.

And your final verdict?

A: Without putting too fine a point on it, it was shit. The way College dealt with it made everything worse. I was a problem, never a person.

Even my closest friends from College have drifted. I feel inappropriate, and inconvenient. More than that – I feel ashamed, as though I’ve done something wrong. I have to fight, all the time, to convince myself that I haven’t. I’m glad to be living out.

I’ve since discovered that I had the right to advocacy before I left, and the right to appeal afterwards. College didn’t mention that.

OUSU do great work in advancing the rights of rusticated students. It’s about damn time everyone else caught up.

B: I wouldn’t wish rustication on my worst enemy.

My doctor told me the President described me as a “freak”. A large percentage of those at Oxford suffer from mental health problems – yet, while they’re recognised as common, admitting to them is a social faux-pas. People self-harm but stigmatise others for it; self-harm is something people “need to open up about”, but it’s crass and impolitic to discuss.

Oxford needs to bring its attitude towards mental health into the 21st century.

Tags: mental health — Oxford — rustication — university

Imposter Syndrome Highest Amongst LMH Freshers, Survey Finds. VERSA

A survey conducted by VERSA’s campaign for student satisfaction found that record numbers of freshers at Lady Margaret Hall suffered from ‘Imposter Syndrome’. The survey revealed that most of the year group felt ‘inadequate’ in comparison to their peers, with the highest prevalence exhibited amongst PPE students.

In other news LMH JCR has announced that the month of November shall henceforth be known as ‘the Month of Malala’, in celebration of the college’s first Nobel Peace Laureate.

Tags: imposter syndrome — it happens here — lmh — PPE

VERSA | Dear Louis…Where’s my fucking monorail?

Recently, VERSA opened applications for new writers to join its (illustrious) team. Thinking it might be, well, jokes to throw a curveball in the mix, one of our final questions was as follows:

Needless to say, it yielded some pretty strong answers. But beyond the classic vote to marry Andy H “for the chemistry”, and the repeated murders of OMB on the grounds of his being weird/racist/having an excessively shiny face, one question prevailed. A new, urgent lament rang clear and true. The people spoke with one voice, and their question was simple. Louis: where’s my fucking monorail

Lies, damned lies, and LJT’s OUSU manifesto

So, we’ll cut him some slack: fifth week is probably on the way to the bin, the monolithic Guild effectively covers policy #2, and OUSU has, as promised, achieved world peace.

But Louis, dear Louis, the question remains. Where – is – our – fucking – monorail? This is a catastrophe. A trainwreck.

Zuleyka Shahin pledged a new lift for the Oxford Union, should she be elected. This was deemed so thoroughly impractical by insiders that one suggestion put to VERSA was that the two projects could be merged, in the ultimate stairlift rollercoaster – thus finally surmounting decades of OUSU-Union enmity and rancour.

But Zuleyka didn’t get elected, did she, Louis? And so, and so, we still don’t have a fucking monorail. Perhaps Trup, the famously edgy DJ, has been concentrating on the wrong kind of tracks.

Politicians who break their election promises are, rightly, held to account by tedious and self-important undergrads. Obviously, I consider it my sacred duty to uphold that tradition.

Look, Louis: I like you. I think you’re good at your job, and I think you’ve done well at putting democracy first this year. I like your weird shirts and friendly demeanour. I think you have pretty cool hair.

But the people spoke. And the people asked for one thing. And you, “LJT”, self-styled vox populi and wavey garms aficionado…you have let us down. 

Because sometimes, Louis, chugging along isn’t good enough. Did you not have enough training? Was there a signal failure in OUSU? We were all aboard in 2013 – but it’s all gone so wrong. Maybe, what with OUSU’s tendency to focus on grandstanding and national politics, Trup got ideas above his station. VERSA would suggest trying to get to the route of the problem…but, in the end, he’s crossed a line.

Get back on track, Louis

Apology song or GTFO. 

VERSA | Oxford students show grime legend how to party

Cellar, the edgy venue infamous for its sweat-moistened walls and Red Stripe-drinking, flannel shirt-wearing clientele, played host at Deep Cover on Friday to one of the biggest names in UK grime: Big Narstie.

According to attendees, the gig itself passed in a haze of body odour, heavy bass, and the occasional puff of rather suspicious-looking roll-ups. It was even reported that Big Narstie handed out such a ‘cigarette’ to the audience, as if it were a candy cane and him some roadman’s Father Christmas.

Oxford

A video posted by Big Narstie (@bignarstie) on Jan 16, 2015 at 6:09pm PST

It was the afterparty which really took Oxford by storm.

Big Narstie had a nice walk round Oxford, heading into the Wadham grounds, as you do. Here he gives a shout out to his mum:

Oxford UNi

A video posted by Big Narstie (@bignarstie) on Jan 16, 2015 at 6:08pm PST

Here he’s “waved out of man’s faces” while “man’s walking on Oxford grass”:

Oxford

A video posted by Big Narstie (@bignarstie) on Jan 16, 2015 at 6:10pm PST

Here, having finally got into Wadham, he wears his mortarboard after graduation. What did he study? The “roadman course”. And yes, he did used to go to his “roadman lectures”. Some tough shit there.

I graduated lol

A video posted by Big Narstie (@bignarstie) on Jan 16, 2015 at 8:11pm PST

“WE’RE IN THE DORMS”:

Oxford

A video posted by Big Narstie (@bignarstie) on Jan 16, 2015 at 8:52pm PST

The Wadham afterparty is fully underway. It doesn’t look that sick, but everyone’s loving life. He’s smoking a ‘cigarette’. Good times:

A video posted by Big Narstie (@bignarstie) on Jan 16, 2015 at 8:52pm PST

There you have it. Wadham plays host to what might be the best afterparty of the year. We’ve proved that grime fans don’t just live in Brixton. And who knew it was actually Big Narstie BSc (in the ‘Roadman course’)?

We’re not going to pass judgement on the smoking this time but let’s not forget fire safety, people.

Welcome to the Base Defence League, Oxford. It’s like the Bullingdon but not shit.

Watch more videos on Big Narstie’s Instagram.

Tags: Big Narstie — Cellar — Grime — P Money — Roadman — Wadham

CV is God VERSA

It’s Hilary term and alongside occasional snow and the return of Ahmed’s, all the E&M kids have managed to bag themselves a ten week corporate internship. KPMG, EY, P&G, PwC  – if you know the lingo, then you know the lingo. If not, the names of all these companies seem to resemble a line from that terrible Tinie Tempah song, which finishes ‘see what’s hiding in my CK briefs.’ In reality, it is pretty terrifying for those of us who once thought we might be able to scrape through Oxford dividing our week evenly between half-complete essays and the queue outside Bridge.

I am trying though, and aside from desperately leafing through the JCR’s 2011 copy of The Times Top 100 undergraduate employers, I created a CV.

I did this until late last night and had a revelation. The CV is God. Hear me out… The CV is God and a God who does not rank compassion particularly highly on his list of virtues.

No longer do the pious trek to Church on a Sunday, repeat the Lord’s prayer and put a few coins in the confession box. Nowadays, the devout must show their reverence to a different Almighty: the curriculum vitae and bane of my life. A new type of devotion is required for this new deity. The holy must volunteer for JCR Committee positions, do work experience and cultivate a lame interest like mountain-climbing or journalism. Today, charity work is completed not in an attempt to do good in service of a Christian God. Instead, that ten week scheme in Zambia, you signed up for, is exclusively to fill the blanks of one’s CV.

If the CV is a looming, omnipotent God, forcing his subjects to perform inane tasks, then JCR Treasurers are His most devoted monks. Surely, no-one in their right mind signs up to be an unpaid accountant for the college? I would prefer to bite my own arms off. Maybe, there is some power kick to be had in controlling several hundred thousand pounds (I’m not talking about St Hugh’s Treasurer). Or maybe it is the promise of being able to perfect your Microsoft Excel skills. No, I don’t think so. I can only explain the JCR Treasurer phenomenon as a monastic dedication to the CV. I am picturing them now, congregated in black robes with shaved heads, chanting Latin psalms, swinging incense and doing quick maths. They are a monastic order solely dedicated to the CV. Celibacy, it seems, is one of their founding principles.

If religion is the opium of the masses, E&M students are so eyeball deep they would put Pete Doherty to shame. They are the strictest disciples of the CV. Yet, judging by Saturday’s Bully night, Stingray, a more appropriate metaphor for the religious trance they are under would be coke. With lectures on how to really lick ass at Goldman, or how to pulverise someone with a handshake, their zeal and devotion to their CV is enough to make one reach for the sick bucket.

Well then, you may well ask, if the CV is a God what does hell look like? Hell came last night, in the form of trying to fill two pages of Microsoft Word, using double space, bold font and a description of what exactly LAMDA Grade seven entails. I have seen Tinder Bios that stand a better chance of getting work experience. But, at the moment I am fine with my atheism; I have not got a twelve week internship at Preston’s Aldi and don’t feel the need to sign up for a JCR committee position. I have resisted conversion and the sticky reach of the Internship Office with its never ending emails. God forbid the day that they start their own text-a-toastie.

VERSA | The best and worst places for a first date in Oxford

The Turf Tavern (or another Oxford pub of your choice):

Shit chat? At least there’s good beer…

Pros:

A reliable and casual first-date location – doesn’t scream ‘I’m in love with you’, more ‘I’m a chiller who wants to get to know you’.

Alcohol available– helps alleviate awkwardness, and will lift your spirits if the date is dreadful.

Cons:

Some might say reliable, some might say boring.

There is the possible concern that opting for an alcohol-focused date option could send off ‘I wanna get you crunk’ vibes . Having said that, receiving a ‘Fancy a drink at the Turf?’ text from a possible suitor doesn’t automatically fill me with fear of his ulterior motives, or see me lunging for my pepper spray.

A solid 8/10.

Raoul’s/Freud/Angels (Basically, any cocktail-serving establishment, as long as it’s swish, atmospherically lit, and serves pretty drinks):

Pros:

A swankier, sexier version of the above.

Alcohol available.

Cons:

£££ – is s/he worth the dolla at such an early stage?

My cheapskate status leads fancy cocktails to slip slightly behind The Turf, with a nonetheless respectable 7.5/10.

The Ashmolean:

If he doesn’t know his Bernini from his Banksy, is he worth round 2?

Pros:

Gives the impression of being a cultured chap/chica.

Opportunity to impress your date with your intellectual or artistic knowledge.

Awkward silences can be masked by a thoughtful gaze at a Claude Lorrain landscape, or a querying look at the Floor Plan.

Cons:

Has the potential to be tedious for both parties.

Conversely to Pro #2 there is a chance that your expertise will be foiled (not everyone has a Ross to tutor them before a museum/gallery date).

More interesting than a drink at The Turf, but not to everyone’s taste. A decent 7/10.

Punting:

Pros:

Romantic Venice vibes.

If the date is a failure, at least you got a pretty Instagram out of it.

Cons:

Very weather dependent.

Not as easy as it looks, and thus potentially embarrassing (but, then again, being terrible is a good ice-breaker).

A significant leap in setting, from boozing in Bridge to being aboard a punt on the Isis – perhaps too big a leap to risk on a first date.

A little bit tragic.

Cute idea, but too much for a first date – 4/10.

College bar:

St John’s Bar – 2/10 would not bang.

Highly dependent on your college: for a St John’s student this is clearly not an option (see our analysis for more); for a Queen’s or Worcester student, the likelihood of a successful first date is far greater.

N.B. If you both go to the same college this is not the best choice for you.

Ultimately, for all you Oxford dating folk, I’d say it’s probably better to attend a bar outside your college premises – 6/10.

Arzoo:

An awful first date location. You may question why such a place even crossed my mind as a possible setting to woo a potential lover. Indeed, the only reason that it did is having personally witnessed, to my disbelief, a couple make awkward chat at said curry house.

Pro (singular):

I quite like their samosas.

Cons:

Surrounded by inebriated, crew-dating, penny-throwing individuals.

Potential to be the victims of a ‘currently on the worst date ever’ sconce from a neighbouring table.

One of, if not the, worst date locations – 1/10.

A walk in Christ Church meadow:

They’re still walking…

Pros:

Opportunity to show your ‘at one with nature’ side.

A chance to play Cathy and Heathcliff on the moors (albeit in a more refined, less dangerous location).

Cheap as chips. Actually considerably cheaper.

Cons:

Undeniably slightly lame.

Significant pressure to have good chat – aside from walking, conversation is the only activity (no beverage to sip at in awkward silence as available at the Turf or Raoul’s).

With regret, the fundamentals of the date, walking and talking, are exceedingly difficult to juggle simultaneously when in the company of a new acquaintance.

The big question is, when will the date end? Who’ll bring an end to the aimless walking?

Not the best, not the worst – 5/10.

Formal hall/Guest dinner:

Pros: Yes, it’s nice food…

Cons: … but this is a very intense first date for the guest, being surrounded by numerous members of their date’s college.

Highly embarrassing for both parties when asked by fellow diners how they know each other: ‘Um… erm… this is our first date’.

Leave it for later in the blossoming relationship – 2/10.

A study date at the library:

This is not a thing, and never should be.

Netflix in your room:

A.k.a. Let’s have sex.

Don’t be this guy.

This one doesn’t even merit a pros and cons list. It’s a categorical no as a first-date option.

Score – n/a

So the winner is the trusty Turf, with racy Raoul’s coming in at second, and at third, if you trust yourself to cope without the safety-net of alcohol, why not be cultured and take your date to the Ashmolean, the dark horse of the Oxford dating scene?

Ticket Touts Kneecapped Under New Bullingdon Regime VERSA

Last night, three Bullingdon ticket touts were subject to a brutal attack, kneecapped with a Black and Decker power tool. This is the latest developments in Bullingdon’s recent crack down on ticket touts, coordinated by Paul ‘smash yer face in’ Williams.

Fred Stripe was found in tears on the doorstep of his Cowley house. His knee-capping has permanently put an end to his ability to dance to DJ Stringray. His only crime was attempting to sell his GunFingers ticket on for profit.

Last week Paul Williams, an ex-KGB member, was flown in from Russia by the Bullingdon. This is the latest in a long sequence of events for the trendy Cowley club following a regime change reminiscent of the former Soviet Union. On Friday, the profiteering enterprise of organisations such as Fixr and Oxtickets was stamped down upon as all tickets were nationalised under the Bullingdon.

The People’s Manifesto

The news broke after Thursday’s announcement that the regime would no longer be endorsing the resale of tickets for shameless profit. Instead tickets would be allocated on the basis of to each according to his need, from each according to his ability.

Discontent raged amongst die-hard capitalists, with many dumping their stock in GunFingers tickets during the course of  ‘Black Thursday’. The World Bank described the bubble burst as worse than the 2008 mortgage crisis and the 1929 Wall Street Crash put together. However, the People’s Republic of Bullingdon insist that this upheaval is necessary in order to forge the new world order that Marx envisioned.

The end of capitalism?

Thus far communication with the elusive state has been minimal, though the new regime has assured visitors that its relationship with the West will remain civil and has denied rumours of a pingers famine. Border restrictions, meanwhile, have been toughened and citizens are required to bring correct identification papers to Checkpoint Charlie, where sniffers are in place.

VERSA | Sparkling NUS makes brave stand against Zionism in our soft-drinks

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Union of Students has today made its boldest statement yet: as part of its ongoing battle against the sins of Israel, Zionism, and the Tories, the NEC has tabled a motion to boycott Coca-Cola.

Motion 11, found here, demands that the NEC “cut all ties” with the company – which currently sponsors the NUS Awards. This comes as a result of Coca-Cola’s membership of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign’s target list. The BDS movement aims to promote Palestinian interests by boycotting Israeli products, academics, scholarship, and soft drinks. Coca-Cola is based in Atlanta, Georgia – but the NEC must not let such trivialities dampen their fiery hearts.

The saccharine face of fascism

Student Unions, ignorant of their own false consciousness, have reacted strongly to the NUS’ tireless work. 150 sabbatical officers have signed a petition demanding that the NEC reconsider. But the NEC, in its righteous crusade for Israel’s abolition and world peace, shall not be stopped.

If the NUS is to commit fully to this movement, it must also boycott all brands owned by Coca-Cola. These include the following:

  • Appletiser
  • Capri Sun
  • Nestea
  • Oasis
  • Relentless
  • Lilt
  • Monster
  • Sprite
  • Fanta
  • Schweppes
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Aquapure
  • Powerade
  • Minute Maid
  • Evian
  • Some Bacardi products
  • Innocent

No more smoothies for the NEC. One must also assume that the NEC intend to boycott any malicious, profiteering corporations complicit in the distribution of Israeli propaganda, such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and my local corner shop.

Benjamin Netenyahu, it is reported, spat out his Powerade upon being told the news, previously unaware of Coca Cola’s complicity in Zionism. The NUS’s spritely activity is on course to turn the West Bank into an oasis of peace, and innocent Palestinians will once again be liberated from the monster that is Israeli foreign policy.

In fact, this is not the first time Coca-Cola has been boycotted by a world power: in 1941, Germany also banned the importing of Coke’s ingredients. The resulting creation was Sparkling Orange Nazi Juice, or “Fanta”. Consequently, the NEC manages to undermine both Israeli terrorism and Adolf Hitler in one fell swoop. Excuse me whilst I swoon.

Reactions on Twitter have been mixed.

The @nusuk are trying to boycott coke – come on guys, let’s get #SaveCokeOnCampus trending

— Jan Nedvidek (@janedvidek) July 20, 2015

But the important question is what is David Cameron’s opinion on Coca Cola? #NUSNEC

— Rachel Megan Barker (@rachellybee) July 20, 2015

Double standards. NUS will freely condemn CAGE & not ask for clarity on stance but not condemn Coke despite bad human rights abuse. #NUSNEC

— Areeb Ullah (@are_eb) July 20, 2015

I wonder who on NEC decides who counts as a normal student and what normal students care about? #nusnec

— Tom Phipps (@thomas_phipps) July 20, 2015

MASS EXODUS FROM #NUS OVER BOYCOTTING OF COCA COLA MAKE IT HAPPEN THIS IS NOT A DRILL #NUSNEC

— Adam Barr (@adam3e8ti) July 20, 2015

The BDS campaign’s website contains a list of all prohibited products, which include varieties of hummus, wine, electronics, carpets, and diamonds. The struggle to boycott my weekly procurement of the latter will be difficult, but doubtless worthwhile. A more comprehensive list, which includes Simon & Garfunkel, mathematics, and New Zealand, is available here.

The Coca Cola Company were unavailable for comment.

VERSA wishes the NUS all the best in its continued goals to support students, and represent their most important problems to the Government.