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Snippets - 2/5/2003

May 02 2003 23:47
Oliver Pell
A totally harmless non-column: Pick out Union Hacks in a crowd; ICSM Phone Home; Tiger, tiger, burning bright; Coming to the bar?
Apparently Medics are learning to use the telephone. Soon there'll be no stopping them...

Union to issue ?hack cards?

Imperial College Union took an important step closer this week to isolating potentially dangerous Union Hacks from the remainder of the student population by voting to issue them with identity cards. The Union?s Exec voted overwhelmingly to create a system to be known as ?hack cards? for Union officers and other especially eligible individuals, ostensibly to allow them to access the Union offices. The ?hack card? will allow officers to pass through Ents barriers without needing to pay which has raised the spectre of potential abuse although the ?Union Officer Access to the Union Building? policy promises that such would be considered a ?serious disciplinary offence?.

Medics discover the telephone

A review from Imperial College and St George?s Hospital Medical School published in today?s British Medical Journal makes the slightly obvious point that ?more effective use of the telephone could improve the service given by health professionals to the public?. Imperial?s press release on the subject could be construed as suggesting that Medics don?t know how to use telephones, with Dr Josip Car from Charing Cross, co-author of the review, saying that the telephone?s ?role has remained highly controversial.? That said, the review does somewhat optimistically suggest that the wonder of modern communications could prove beneficial for patients ?who may prefer to have medical treatment over the telephone??

Guilds of the jungle

The infamous City & Guilds College Union Munkey may have spent the year Absent With-Out Leave, but C&G seems to have inherited some new fluffy friend, at least in the short term. The recent arrivals are a pair of enormous furry tigers, courtesy of ExxonMobil, parent company of Esso. The tigers were last seen patrolling close to the Regalia cabinet, as part of the new Guilds price-watch scheme.

Bar prices on the up

In the week that the Reynolds Bar reopened, ICU?s Trading Committee endorsed an average price increase of over 12% for bar prices next year. Apparently necessitated by substantial increases in staffing costs, students can take nevertheless take some heart from the knowledge that ICU bars are still practically the cheapest in London.

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Discussion about “Snippets - 2/5/2003”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. eddie   
May 03 2003 00:15

Have to smile about the Hack Cards

there are what? 40 or 50 "Union Officers" Any ideas on the time scale of the implementation of this?

I seem to remember something about email accounts for union officers too. Hmmm.... will be time to re allocate all of those soon....

All those who reckon that the IC machine will largly just rumble on anyway say "aye".... though obviously I look forward to annother bit of card in my wallet to prove that I really should have been doing something else!

May 04 2003 02:43

12% on Bar prices will stick you 12% up to the current NUS price in London.

I can't believe that feels very nive.

Roll in a london or southern services!

May 04 2003 13:36

I'm not at all convinced these Hack Cards are a good idea.

1. As Mr Pell mentioned in his column, they are open to abuse to gain access to ents events. Even if nobody ever actually does abuse the system in this way, the perception (from the random student populus) that they could is likely to irritate people.

2. Felix said that part of the reasoning behind them was to enable people get into the Union (e.g. on wed/fri evenings) to go to meetings. Does this mean it would be significantly more difficult for a random student to go to a meeting because they're not part of the "clique" of union officers and others who regularly attend meetings and have Hack Cards?

3. Even if points '1' and '2' don't cause problems, the introduction of these cards generally increases the image of cliquiness that the Union has. Is this desirable?


4. eddie   
May 04 2003 17:02

"obviously" its a stupid idea to implement

1) inevitably its going to be abused. "well, thats that sorted out then, lets go for a drink"

2) it will creep to include more and more people. Treasurers, people organising the events... stores officers... etc...

3) we have annother organisational thing to do (or forget to do)

4) Like nia says its going to look bad. there is nothing to cheer up people quing to get into the union, then people somehow jumping the que

5) Arrangements can be made so that should for some reason a meeting be held on a wednesday or friday people who *want* to go can. (including nia's point about openness of meetings)

6) one can see why some might think this is a good idea, but maybe we should just adapt to realising that we cannot just wander into the union whilst entrance is being charged.

Entrance is charged only after certain times on wednesday and friday nights. If you are there beofre then its free (except on certain special nights like end of term events)

Someone want to list all the reasons why "Hack Cards" are needed? In the interest of good debate....

May 04 2003 20:18

It was originally a list of names, rather than cards. But we felt that cards would be easier to implement.

As to why its a good idea, the principle is that the fact that the Union is also an entertainments venue should not interfere with the Union's representative and administrative functions. To Ed's points, I suppose:

(1) Well, maybe. But I doubt it - if you want to abuse your "power" there are far better ways to do it (?749.99 worth of embezzlement?). We have to trust these people - and there'll presumably be a record of card uses so abuse would be easy to spot.

2) I believe CSC Treasurers were part of the idea. A major area to access is the CSC Office...

3) Hmmm. Where's my job related e-mail account, I wonder?

4) See 1?

5) The cases that inspired this idea generally weren't meetings of that kind, I think. In any event, there is a difference between people who are welcome to attend a meeting and people who are expected to attend. Speaking personally, I've left a meeting in the main offices to go down to the basement and then found myself unable to get back in - that's the kind of problem this is supposed to address (I think).

Maybe it won't work. But we'll never know unless we try...

6. sam   
May 05 2003 00:53

Ummm, as far as i know, Dramsoc have cards to allow them free roam of Union Events while they are working...

are you saying Dramsoc are abusing these cards? or are you arguing that Union Officers are less trustworthy than Dramsoc techies?

May 05 2003 01:12


As you say, the cards are valid when DramSoc techies are doing something more useful than adding to the bar's takings. The cards just let the door staff easilly put faces to names.

So the continuation of this thought is that the door staff will still need to be told to expect the Hacks? I can see our debate on this subject is probably going to take more time than i percieve this system being useful. oh well....

"or are you arguing that Union Officers are less trustworthy than Dramsoc techies?"

Honestly sam, you should know me better by now than to ask such questions!


8. tom t   
May 05 2003 13:28

err, the reason why hack cards are needed is because 'reasoning' with door security is simply not possible. The Union is a resource, not just a club venue, and so some (committed) volunteers need access, even when amazing cheese nights are on with people queueing around the block.......

Until door staff are employed who can process rational thought arguments, cards seem to be the only way to allow access to those who need it. Of course the Union's open to all, but try telling that to a bouncer.

Anyway, Beit residents have a resident card on which they can also get guests in. Surely these cards have never been abused...

As regards beer prices - increases are expected London wide, due in part to increased staffing costs due to Gordson Brown's NI increases, and partly due to increasing beer prices. So ICU will reamin very competitive!

May 05 2003 13:36


I think you will find that the door staff will only let DramSoc through the door when they wearing their "crew" t-shirts, have their card and they know that they are helping Ents with an event. This makes it very difficult for someone to abuse the system, which of course I hasten to add they would not.

Back on to Mr Pell's point about getting to the CSC office, and attending meetings in Beit during times when Ents are running events. This is in fact no problem at all. If you don't pay, you don't get a stamp, just like the Beit residents. If you don't get a stamp then you can't get into the main building, however you can still get into the basements. Why can't you just hold meetings in the basements, in a dedicated meeting room? I suppose that would have involved too much thought at the meeting where you decided to implement these "Hack cards", and it might stop you getting into the bars/events for free, which if you are honest was the real aim of this card.

Anyway back to revision...

May 05 2003 13:54

Personally, I find the idea of the whole system being invented purely so the people at the meeting could get into ents free rather insulting. Especially since the people at the meeting were mainly a) sabbaticals (can get around anyway) b) medics (who spend their time at CX anyway) and c) people who are very unlikely to want to get into union ents (like me :-)).

I think Dram Soc are just sore because other people are getting some small squares of paper...

May 05 2003 14:00

Oliver i think you have hit the nail on the head there.

Many sports teams have clothing which allows them to stand out amongst the masses. Often it is personalised.

I think us hacks need some "Hack Shirts" mabe with witty (but relevant) names added along with some kind of logo?

We want to be like everyone else!

May 05 2003 15:17


This was my main concern. Perhaps if as Oliver suggests, it would not be for "meetings of that kind" then it's not such a big deal. Closer definition of "meetings of that kind" would probably help though.

It's all very well to say that students are welcome to attend meetings but if they find it that much more difficult to get to the meetings then it's a hollow statement.


In practice, its unlikley crew cards are / would be abused often. See Dan "The Director"'s first paragraph and also the fact that if anybody did abuse the system they'd really, really piss off the rest of crew (which is not generally something you want when one regularly entrusts one's life to these people!).

Having said that, there is always potential for abuse of DramSoc's crew cards/crew t-shirts/ bouncers knowing you're a member of crew as there is with any such system. And along with this, certainly I would say that DramSoc's public image suffers from the perception that crew cards could be abused. Some points of this discussion clearly being an example of it. Whilst the accusation that getting into the bar more easily is the real motivation for creating (hack or crew) cards is short sighted and unfair, it is one which you will face repeatedly. Whether this is worth suffering to ease legitimate access - there probably is no definate yes or no to this question.


Union openess - let's keep/improve it and not worsen it.

13. Dan L   
May 05 2003 15:25

Oliver I point you back to your point (2).

CSC office is not in the main building. You do not need a stamp/to pay.

Also what meetings happen after 9pm in the main union building? Also as Ed mentions if you are in before they start charging on a wed/fri then you don't have to pay.

May 05 2003 22:34

'students can take nevertheless take some..'

Should that not be 'students can nevertheless, take some..'

Nia help please?

15. Sam   
May 06 2003 00:34

'costs, students can take nevertheless take some heart from the knowledge that ICU bars...'

i make that:

costs, nevertheless students can take some heart from the knowledge that ICU bars ...

i don't think nevertheless is a very good word, but i was always taught to partition sentences with commas according to phrases. Every phrase within commas was supposed to make sense on it's own... i can't really explain it properly without sitting everyone down in front of loads of examples, but i think standards have slipped since i left school.

16. sporty   
May 06 2003 09:35

Yeah .. the other interpretation grates horribly. Makes me want to smother it in commas to make the sentence legible.

17. Nia   
May 06 2003 11:17

Mr/Ms Watch

Disclaimer 1: I'm not trying to claim I don't make similar (or worse) mistakes but Oliver-baiting might be fun and since you asked so nicely I'll oblige.

Exhibit A: "Apparently necessitated by substantial increases in staffing costs, students can take nevertheless take some heart from the knowledge that ICU bars are still practically the cheapest in London."

I don't think every phrase between commas needs to make sense on its own, there are several uses for commas and I don't think all of them fit this bill (I could be wrong though). Sentences, however do need to make sense on their own and Exhibit A does not.

Oliver has not told us what it is that is necessitated by staffing cost increases. Also in the second half of the sentence he goes on to tell us something new without joining it up 'seamlessly' to the first half of the sentence.

I *think* that "Apparently necessitated by substantial increases in staffing costs, students can nevertheless take some heart that despite these price increases, that ICU bars are still practically the cheapest in London." solves the problem. It is however quite an ambiguous and unclear sentence.

An easy way to make things clearer would be to split the sentence in two. "These cost increases are apparently necessitated by substantial increases in staffing costs. Students can nevertheless take some heart from the knowledge that ICU bars are still practically the cheapest in London." but this of course disrupts the flow of the paragraph making it feel disjointed.

How is "Students can nevertheless take heart that despite these cost increases, which are apparently necessitated by substantial increases in staffing costs, ICU bars are still practically the cheapest in London."?

I quite like having "nevertheless" in the middle not the start of the sentence because I like the way it encourages you to take a short pause after it, reflecting the change in pace/tone that occurs after this point. I'd probably use "nonetheless" or "however" insetad because they have fewer syllables.

One final note; I'm allergic to the phrase "practically the cheapest in London" because its a meaningless phrase but I think this is probably a matter of personal preference. Possibly, I've been writing too many technical papers and have developed a slight adversion to colloquialisms.

All of the above, is of course unecessary tripe since we all understood what Oliver was trying to say in the first place.

May 06 2003 12:39

Nia, et al.

The only meetings I can think of that would happen after 9pm on a Wednesday or Friday are:

1) Very long emergency Exec meetings.

2) BAG (aka Budget Allocation Meetings).

Meetings in category 1) would, if they had gone on that long, be fairly incomprehensible to anyone who hadn;t already attended the first 3 hours (or have become a closed meeting, in order for people to get *really* bitchy).

Category 2) - BAG meetings -are technically open meetings, but it's a rare soul who wants to actually spend their free time at BAG unless they're a CSC/FSA chair/treasurer/president.


May 06 2003 17:50

Etienne - you forgot Tuition Fees Working Group meetings!

May 06 2003 18:19

Yes, I left one of those at about 10pm (on a Wednesday night) On my way out of the Quad I had a friendly chat with the door people (explaining that I was just popping out and needed to get back in). They kindly let me back in 20 mins later (when I returned). What's the problem?

May 06 2003 18:55

The problem is people don't ask the doorstaff, they just walk out the gate without a care in the world. If people had the intelligence or courteousy to inform the doorstaff as they were leaving, they would be let in. If there was a huge queue, and an Officer needed to get in (but not get stamped) they would probably be allowed to jump in, IF they explained and asked nicely.

There's this huge perception that doorstaff are stupid, and I have to say that in the case of the company we use it is not true.

They are student friendly, able to exercise discretion. Some of them even are or have been students themselves.

The reason people have trouble getting in is arrogance and ignorance. If everyone exhibited the common courteousy that Mustafa did, there'd be none of this complaining.

May 06 2003 20:35

I would agree, the door staff are very considerate and nice people. If you explain that you need to go to a meeting or get into the basements there is no problem.

All it takes is to be polite to them - something some IC students can't seem to do.

May 07 2003 14:03

Yeah, I find the door staff are generally fine so long as you explain why you need to be let back in...I can't say I have ever had a problem with them.

As for a hack card, it would be just another thing to stuff in my wallet which is already bulging with random cards and bits of paper with scribbles on.

24. Mike W   
May 08 2003 12:29

Finally, some people who seem to appreciate the job Renegade do. I agree with the positive comments about them - having worked with them (either as Clubsec or Renegade) for four years. If you have a genuine reason for entry, are polite and treat them with respect, then the chances are they will let you in with no problems. If however, you cannot get off your high horse and think you are more important than you really are, then they won't budge. Simple.

Sorry about that, rant over. Back to the joys of sorting orrible acoustic beaming....ho hum..

25. tom t   
May 08 2003 14:44

So it boils down to: if you know the doorstaff and have worked with them in the past, then they'll give you no hassle. If, on the other hand, they don't know who you are, despite your pleas for clemency and understanding, they'll treat you like the dog s**t on their boots. I'm sorry not to concur, but maybe my junior hackishness just doesn't pass the Renegade test. Anyhow, hasn't anyone considered the name - I mean how good does 'Rebel' or 'outlaw' security sound? Doesn't fill you with thoughts of accountability and lawfulness...

May 08 2003 15:21

No, Tom, it boils down to being polite to them and asking not demanding to be allowed in. I never had a problem gaining entry to use the jazz and rock room for the last four and a half years on a wednesday/friday night, including when I was a fresher and not a familiar face to them. I was at least polite and waited if i had to.

May 08 2003 15:55

if worried about hacks abusing the cards why not make it so that the card has to be accompanied by a t-shirt with HACK on the back and icu logo on the front, then the bar will have no trouble refusing to serve them on a Wed or Fri night, as it would be seen as staff uniform.

Now the question is what colour??

As for Renegade, i've always found them quite helpful, and i'm sure if more people waited patiently to be asked what they wanted instead of shouting at them i'm sure they would find the door staff alot more accomodating.

May 08 2003 17:08

Tom, I certainly did not know the Renegade security staff (and they almost certainly did not know me - I think that was the first time I'd ever been in Beit on an ICU ents night...). I just asked nicely and they let me back in.

May 08 2003 19:29

I totally agree with this hack-card idea. I also think we should have a special lane on the walk-way, you know how crowded it gets. A dedicated member of staff to serve us at the bar after our crucial meetings would benefit the student body as a whole.

By the way, I agree with Tom T. The current bouncers don't have a single brain cell between them

30. Seb   
May 09 2003 01:08

Actually, the hacks seems to be fairly free of petty embezlement/nepotistic ideas.

The "donuts for meetings" paper got rejected for example.

To tell you the truth though, it's always annoyed me that you have to pay for entry to use the bar when they have cheese nights. I hate most forms of disco, I just want a quiet, cheap pint of proper bitter. What will happen when they close southside?

31. Drink   
May 09 2003 01:25


there is a simple solution. Find yourself in the bar prior to needing to pay for the door. admittedly you probably wont save any money (due to passing money accross the bar) but at least you wont feel you had to pay to get in....

32. Seb   
May 09 2003 13:43

It's the part where you have to go out to get more money that usually does it for me. And getting sufficient money together before hand and then making sure I meet a deadline beore the bouncers turn up turns a quiet drink into some sort of logistical nightmare.

Well, maybee I'm exadgerating a bit...

May 09 2003 14:25

Well I disagree with this whole hack card thing. It's too subtle. Surely union officers would be elevated above the riff-raff more effectively by issuing them with off-white T-shirts with the regulation number of bodily fluid stains on? We could even invest in a special perfume to encourage normal life-forms to keep their distance.

Closed This discussion is closed.

Please contact the Live! Editor if you would like this discussion topic re-opened.


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