All posts by Craig Bateman

PERSPECTIVES: Generation Snowflake?

 

The first in the series of ‘Perspectives’ talks at St Chad’s College took place on Monday 16th October at 6:30pm. The ‘Perspectives’ series which brings together a wide range of academics from Durham University is St Chad’s College’s very own pioneering interdisciplinary college module. For this first event, a panel of students and researchers came together to discuss the incredibly topical issue of millennials, the ‘snowflake’ generation, notoriously (and perhaps unjustifiably) known for their wayward ideals and expectations. The evening was introduced by College Principal, Dr Margaret Masson and Vice Principal, Dr Eleanor Spencer-Regan, who both emphasised the importance of inter-disciplinary and even inter-generational learning and scholarship at Durham. Encouraging students to make the most out of the resources at both St Chad’s and the wider university, they also introduced the notion of the ‘snowflake generation’, which has been recently defined as millennials who are generally more prone to taking offence and less resilient to difference in attitudes and ideas than previous generations.

First up to speak about this issue was Durham Students’ Union’s very own President, Megan Croll. Megan gave a personal insight into the issues and challenges that she faces and helps people with in her role as a student leader. These included issues such as the rise of social media in connecting individuals, as well as the ability of our ‘digital age’ to give us far more choice over who we engage and interact with, citing dating apps such as Tinder as positive ways to identify shared interests. Megan also outlined the heightened level of pressure that students are now being put under to achieve more than previous generations, and claimed that this might be responsible for fuelling the ambitions of students to go further than their predecessors.

Second to speak was Dr Benedict Anderson who is an Assistant Professor in the Law School. Dr Anderson defined a snowflake as a ‘unique item that melts under pressure’, and argued that this can apply to a wide range of people when faced with challenging situations. He also outlined the sketchy area between intention and offence, citing how it might be possible to unconsciously cause offence due to differences in outlook and ideology.

Final to speak was Becca Dean, a youth worker and PhD researcher in the School of Applied Social Sciences. Becca introduced three broad ideas that attempt to explain the effects of the current generation’s excessive use of social media. Firstly, Becca introduced the concept of ‘Elkind’s Personal Fable’, which attempts to explain how self-curation is often imagined as a social act, where our appearance becomes a symbolic representation of who we are. Secondly, Becca unpacked Erikson’s Stages of Development, explaining how our sense of ‘self’ coordinates and changes the way in which we relate with others, creating communities that systematically include and exclude others. Finally, Becca used the research of Caitlin Moran to explain how the internet, still in its relative infancy, is like a teenager; a “new-founded liberal city that failed to install a sheriff” and was consequently a little wayward in its behaviour.

The first Perspectives event was standing room only or bring your own chair!

The audience were very receptive to these ideas, taking the opportunity after the introductory speeches to break into small clusters and explore the issues at stake. This was followed by a more informal networking opportunity to find out more about the experiences, insights and research of the speakers. The next talk in the series takes place on Monday, 30th October at 18.30, where the topic will be the very relevant issue of the future of meat and the ethical issues that surround its consumption.

Durham City MP vists St Chad’s College

Careers & Alumni officer Cormac Frazer last Monday, 13th February, facilitated a discussion amongst members of St Chad’s College with Durham City MP, Roberta Blackman-Woods.

The session saw Roberta sharing her experiences in Parliament with those in attendance, and was followed by a Question & Answer session. The event saw members of all three undergraduate years asking pertinent questions, ranging from public communications to homelessness and from community action to the role of civil society in shaping public policy.

Roberta tweeted afterwards:

Speaking with Press Comm, Cormac said: “it was an honour to host Roberta, and great to broaden our understanding MPs’ work – especially at a time of such political division.”

St Chad’s Governing Body Away Day

On Tuesday 31st January and Wednesday 1st February, members of St Chad’s Governing Body gathered together for an away day on its ten-year strategy, which built on consultative work that had taken place in the common rooms on the general themes and perspectives to be included in this plan.

The two days saw members of the Governing Body undertaking a variety of different tasks to orientate and collaborate thinking on the College’s strategy, including building the College out of Lego (pictured, see below for annotations)!

The strategy will shape how decisions will be made over the next decade in the College’s life, including issues such as environment, student life, and widening participation, which was identified as a key priority. Discussions also featured consideration of wider community, which includes College alumni. Alumni will also have a chance to make their views heard at events, in discussion with Dr Margaret Masson, our Principal.

Three students, Jack Angers (JCR Senior Man), Elizabeth Hoyt (MCR President), and Craig Bateman (JCR Governing Body Representative) were also in attendance to voice student opinions.

St Chad’s hosts termly Question Time

St Chad’s College hosted its termly ‘Question Time’ evening on Thursday, 24th November.

Styled on the BBC’s Question Time programme, Conor Fegan took over David Dimbleby’s role as chairperson. Conor introduced each panellist, a cross-representation of the common rooms. These included the SCR’s Baroness Maeve Sherlock, and the JCR’s Michael Aspin, Dom Birch, Jess Frieze, and Josh Barker.

Throughout the evening, panellists were quizzed on a range of issues. The provision of port and cream-crackers got the audience’s creative juices flowing!

On a second EU referendum, the panel argued in favour of popular sovereignty, although there was also an acknowledgement that it’s going to take more than two years to negotiate Brexit.

Addressing whether the election of Donald Trump in America signals that we are living in a post-factual age, Josh urged the audience to “debate” views which seemed to be different from theirs. Baroness Sherlock argued that we must have “mechanism to distinguish” between fact and fiction, whilst Michael defended pluralism and democracy. Dom spoke about the emotions involved in politics and Jess said it’s wrong to simply shout back.

On the issue of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the panel agreed that a healthy democracy requires an effective opposition.

The evening provided a thoughtful, intellectual, and dynamic dialogue. We wait to see what next term’s event holds in store.

Green Door hosts fresher’s showcase

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St. Chad’s College Green Door Theatre company held its debut fresher’s showcase on Sunday, 9th October.

The event introduced fresher’s to the theatre group, and displayed the range of musical, poetic, artistic, and comical talent the JCR has to offer. The successful evening was reflected in its high attendance – a cheerful number for its first show of the year.14691901_655508014612404_2048378808342599027_o

The evening began with a melody by the college’s Chazz Band, which finished with their iconic rendition of ‘County Roads’, a college classic! The audience were serenaded by Wales’ pride, Dewi. Jess, Hilaire, and Craig recited poetry. Griff and Harry performed sensationally on the piano, and Cormac acted out a Spike Milligan classic. David, Alex, and Fergus performed compelling monologues. Izzie and Milly respectively gave phenomenal performances on the pole and violin.

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Green Door’s President, Christie Clark hosted the evening, introduced each act, and mentioned a little about their college presence.  They had a successful fresher’s fair uptake, but are always continuously looking for new members. You can view their page at www.facebook.com/GreenDoorTC.

Green Door will next bring to the stage Tim Firth’s ‘Flint Street Nativity’. Interviews open 17th October.

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Junior Common Room Elect New Committees

One of the events which dominated St. Chad’s during Epiphany Term was the Junior Common Room (JCR) Elections.

The election season began on 15th February with the hustings for Senior Man and Bar President, and concluded on 13th March, with the hustings for the Officer’s Committee, which includes the Careers and Alumni Officer, the Sponsorship Office, the Outreach Officer, and Governing Body Representative.

With compulsory jokes, and impersonations of the outgoing office-holder in each of the hustings, the month of democracy was accompanied by the occasional opportunity for much-welcomed light-hearted humour.

The month of elections also saw the opportunity for members of the Junior Common Room to engage with the democratic process, whether standing for positions themselves, proposing others for positions, or seconding nominations.

PressComm has exclusively spoken with new Senior Man, Jack Angers, to gauge his views on the process, which he described as both “incredibly rewarding and quite exhausting”. Speaking about his election, he told us that he thought that it was “an honour” and that he “cannot wait to start the job”. In elaboration, Jack told us that: “standing in front of your peers to demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the role is a great experience but certainly a long one.” He also claimed how it is a “pleasure to see so many first year’s going for positions.” He concluded, saying that; “Chad’s is lucky to have a group wanting to get so involved in college life.”

The new JCR Treasurer, DAN Bateson, and Senior Man, Jack Angers
The new JCR Treasurer, Dan Bateson, and Senior Man, Jack Angers

The elections also gave Chadsians the opportunity to propose, and second, fellow Chadsians.

First year psychologist, Charlotte Hall, who also took part in the elections by seconding one of the candidates, has also spoken with PressComm. Charlotte told us; “as a fresher I think it’s easy to forget that the JCR is made up of elected representatives, so I think it was really important that so many of us got involved with the elections, whether that was by standing, seconding someone, or just turning up to husts”.

Cormac Frazer, who is a languages student and stood for Careers and Alumni Officer in the elections, told us that the role is “an important but potentially overlooked one”. Cormac said that he looks forward to continuing the work that has been done over the last year.

As of Monday, the newly-elected Executive Committee, and JCR Officers, have taken office.