Editorial September 15th 2014

Tom Kelly & Alasdair Begg
Editors in Chief

We would like to take this opportunity to welcome all new students to The University of Glasgow. You have made an excellent decision in choosing to study here, in a city that has more to offer than you could possibly take in straight away. For now, it’s best to relax into your first few weeks here and see where it takes you. You’ll settle in in no time. We wish you luck in your learning and in any new home you might have, and we hope you will be safe in Freshers’ Week and beyond.

We would also like to express our eternal gratitude to those who worked on the Glasgow Guardian last year, in particular last year’s Editor-in-Chief Louise Wilson, who was magnificent. We wish them all luck in the big and scary real world.

We hope you will not make this the last time you pick up this newspaper and we hope you might consider the following.

Today, I was leafing through the style guide of The Guardian and The Observer. Reaching the letter ‘S’, I slowed and found myself reading an entry on Scotland. The following is that entry published in its entirety.

“The following was written by a Scot who works for the Guardian and lives in London. Letters expressing similar sentiments come from across Britain (and, indeed, from around the world):

We don’t carry much coverage of events in Scotland and to be honest, even as an expat, that suits me fine. But I do care very much that we acknowledge that Scotland is a separate nation and in many ways a separate country. It has different laws, education system (primary, higher and further), local government, national government, sport, school terms, weather, property market and selling system, bank holidays, right to roam, banks and money, churches, etc.

If we really want to be a national newspaper then we need to consider whether our stories apply only to England (and Wales) or Britain, or Scotland only. When we write about teachers’ pay deals, we should point out that we mean teachers in England and Wales; Scottish teachers have separate pay and management structures and union. When we write about it being half-term, we should remember that it’s known as mid-term in Scotland. When we write about bank holiday sunshine/rain, we should remember that in Scotland the weather was probably different and it possibly wasn’t even a bank holiday. When we write about the English cricket team, we should be careful not to refer to it as “we” and “us”. When the Scottish Cup final is played, we should perhaps consider devoting more than a few paragraphs at the foot of a page to Rangers winning their 100th major trophy (if it had been Manchester United we’d have had pages and pages with Bobby Charlton’s all-time fantasy first XI and a dissertation on why English clubs are the best in Europe). Andy Murray is Scottish, as well as British, rather than Scottish when he loses and British when he wins.

These daily oversights come across to a Scot as arrogance. They also undermine confidence in what the paper is telling the reader”

This entry in many ways exposes issues that arise from being a singular sovereign state made up of a number of countries that are divided in many ways but remain under a large degree of control from one centralised government. The resulting effect on the national media can be hugely problematic. You might say that many sovereign states are very divided, and I might be persuaded that this can be a strength, but I think that in this case it is of huge detriment to the people of Scotland and I’ll seek to explain why.

Still today, 307 years into the union, a Scot cannot enjoy a British national paper without the ‘daily oversights’ referenced above intruding upon them. They feel the pride of a nation but remain second in a union that constantly reminds them of this. To me, these daily oversights are a betrayal of a carelessness with which London looks on Scotland.

As those oversights undermine confidence in a newspaper, I feel that the UK government is guilty of oversights that have undermined my confidence in them. I feel a Scot is better off with their own paper, with as many pages about Rangers (and Celtic and much else besides) as Scottish publishers feel is appropriate; a paper that doesn’t require these caveats and doesn’t make a word as common as ‘us’ a landmine. I feel that a Scot is better off with a fully autonomous government to represent their views and attend to their needs. I feel Scots should no longer need to be second.

Having said all that, and having made our own opinions very clear, this is one of the most important political events that you are likely to live through, and what matters most is that you make a decision. The referendum deserves the attention and the opinion of everyone in Scotland.

However you vote, it’s up to yo

Students denied registration for the next academic year with extreme consequences

remained skeptical about the approach the University was taking with students in this position, stating that,

“I understand the need for students to pay back money they owe. However there needs to be a fair approach and I find it absolutely incredible that the University refuses to change its practices despite the recent findings of the OFT investigation which concluded “the blanket use of academic sanctions in such instances, regardless of the circumstances, could breach consumer protection law. It is particularly concerning that some terms allow the university to impose sanctions on students even when they owe small amounts or a debt is disputed.” It’s sad that the University has chosen to completely disregard the ruling despite representatives from the SRC arguing in favour of the OFT ruling. We will continue to challenge the University on this where possible.”

Meanwhile, the Advice Centre has informed students in this position to refer to the University Complaints Procedure and has highlighted the option of contacting Trading Standards Commission. However, even if their case is successful, students refused enrolment at this time will still miss the start of the academic year.

When asked about the issue, a spokesman for the University stated, “Students always have the ability to look online in mycampus to check any outstanding balance of their debt – either student debt or non-academic debt. We do not treat non-academic and academic debt differently and students can come to us and we will work with them to agree payment plans. We treat each person individually and work on a case-by-case basis.”